Editor’s Notebook: Identify Army Photo/ Donald Morrison Archive/ Miscellany/ SPBA 1938/ MacCrimmon’s Curse

I found this smart photograph in the PP archive the other day. Can anyone properly identify the pipers, their rank, their regiment and the occasion on which the photo was taken? Obviously somewhere in the tropics. Hong Kong maybe?

Donald’s Archive

Seona MacDonald has written re the latest articles from her father Donald Morrison’s archive: ‘Thank you so much for providing additional information on dad’s archive material.

‘Your most recent post (Seton Gordon to Col. John McEwing) unearthered a distant memory! Dad  was invited in 1975 (I think) to Coeur d’Alene Summer School. I’m sure he and Andrew Wright were offered to attend in future years. I initially didn’t link the name on the Seton Gordon document until you jogged the memory of dad’s visit(s) to Idaho! 

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‘My sister Donna has also been able to clarify that Hugh MacCallum did pipe at dad’s funeral. Dad had written to Hugh and asked him to play. Leaving Lochboisdale was the slow march to the grave and we are sure the End of the Great Bridge was played at the graveside. These tunes were chosen by dad.

‘In my trawl of dad’s books I have come across a signed copy of one of your books stored safely with signed copies of Donald MacLeod’s.’


Due to the covid problems in Australia the Queensland Highland Pipers Society‘s ‘Scots PGC’ contest has been postponed until October 17.

Peter Weidig, Managing Director: ‘Kintail Bagpipe Makers are now back in business with the well known brands of Kintail, David Glen and J & R Glen.’

Jane Kennedy of Aberfeldy Games writes: ‘I am trying to track down the winner of the MacDougall trophy from the piping competition at Aberfeldy show in 2019. As there has been no show since, we have decided to collect them all in to check their condition etc.

‘We have no copy of the piping results and the trophy was not signed for so I have no  contact details of the winner. I believe it could have been Jason Craig from Australia. Do you know how I can contact him if he has taken the trophy home?’

Jason is now domiciled in Scotland Jane. I am sure he will be in touch if he has the trophy.

SPBA Annual Report February, 1938

Forres Pipe Band in 1938

‘Your Association has now reachd the end of its seventh year….The membership remains close on 90 bands…The Grade 1 Chanmpionship held at Renfrew was a very satisfactory contest and [produced] a nice balance for the Treasurer…The piping and drumming judges were under cover….Voting on a new panel of judges will take place shortly and will be in operation throughout 1938….During the year [1937] twenty contests were held and Grade 2 and 3 bands were catered for on eleven occasions…The Quartette Piping and Solo Drumming Contest was held in Glasgow in December of last year. The events aroused considerable enthusiasm and are worthy of repeating each year. The Cowal Committee kindly granted a donation of £10 and our judges gave their services free…..The work of the Association has proceeded in a smooth and orderly manner throughout the year and the business of the executive committee, under the distinguished leadership of our president Mr MacDiarmid, has been at all times harmonious and pleasant.’ Thomas Park, Secretary.

MacCrimmon’s Curse

We’ll soon have more on focal dystonia or ‘Piper’s Palsy’ as it is known. For now, a reader has forwarded this on another piper’s affliction, the the so-called ‘MacCrimmon’s Curse’:

‘MacCrimmons curse is an affliction that affected the piper clan MacCrimmon in 16th century Scotland. It is said the clan was cursed by a widow whose son was taken away by the press gangs.

‘It is also noted that one of the MacCrimmons women had several fingers removed for giving away piping secrets to a lover from the MacPherson clan. Wherever the curse came from, it had an impact on the MacCrimmon men whose fingers started to bend in towards the centre of their hands. This prevented them from playing and took away their ability to be the official pipers for the MacLeods of Dunvegan.

‘The MacCrimmon’s Curse is actually Dupuytren’s Contracture, also known as Vikings Disease. It is a condition that starts as a small lump in the palm that then starts to affect the fingers, causing them to contract and bend. It dates back to Nordic descent people, hence the name Vikings Disease. The Vikings settled in large numbers in Scotland.

‘What actually causes Vikings disease is unknown. It is believed to be related to a chemical imbalance in the body. What we do know is that the disease is hereditary and is passed down through the generations. The condition is more likely to affect men in their fifties and older. People who suffer from alcoholism and are heavy smokers are more likely to suffer from it. The condition is not painful in most cases but will impact the ability to perform daily tasks, like cooking and writing.

‘It needs to be treated as it will not correct itself. A doctor will prescribe steroid injections and an operation in many cases.’

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2 thoughts on “Editor’s Notebook: Identify Army Photo/ Donald Morrison Archive/ Miscellany/ SPBA 1938/ MacCrimmon’s Curse

  1. Hi Rab,

    Hope you are well.

    I have sent an email to Jane Kennedy regarding the overall trophy from the 2019 Aberfeldy Games. No overall trophy was presented, unfortunately. My only suggestion is that the last person to sign for it (2018 winner?) is still in possession of it, of which hopefully the games committee has a record. Such a shame when these records of poping history are not returned.

    Kind Regards

    Jason Craig

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