The Royal Scots Cap Badge

Tom McCurdy

by Tom McCurdy
(Port Angeles,WA U.S.A.)

Dear Pipe Major Robertson,


I don't know of anyone else so genuinely qualified who offers such an extraordinary service to pipers as do you. It is exceptionaly and all of us wish you the very best.

I was asked to pipe at two nearby veteran's hospitals as part of their ' 12 days of Christmas '. One of the days has ' pipers piping ' so I was at least one piper piping. In preparation a friend of mine, a military historian, sent me his dvd copy of Tunes of Glory. Your comments are timely.

It may be a typo in that the movie was not a comedy. It was a tradgedy and it certainly, for those of us ignorant, played glorious runs of piping and marching to say nothing of the splendid uniforms on display. The tune ' the Black Bear ' was prominant.

Supposedly when the Director, Ronald Neame, sought a location he was turned down by the colonel of the Argyls because the paperback book, Tunes of Glory , then popular had a seamy picture on the cover to promote the sales. I suspect the Colonel regretted his decision as the movie was splendid.

Duncan Macrae was the actor playing Pipe Major Duncan MacLean. I don't know if all real Pipe Majors look like this but this Duncan bears an uncanny resemblence to Pipe Major Bill Richardson!

The other source I referenced was the movie from the sixties The Longest Day. In this movie Peter Lawford portrays Lord Lovat directing his personal piper to play the pipes as the commandos landed at Sword Beach. The piper then played over a difficult bridge crossing. In both cases he playe ' The Black Bear ' although in real life Billy Millin, now deceased, played Hielan Laddie and Blue Bonnets Over the Border among several others.

In any case The Black Bear is prominant and thank you for your masterful presentation. I will learn it!

Best and Happy New Year,

Tom McCurdy
Beginning Piper

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Jan 04, 2012
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That memoir
by: Tom McCurdy

PM Richardson thanks again. I am paying more attention now to the terms used in the pipe bands.

I think Greg should help with this memoir? You have the story and he has the technical ability.

Cheers, and thanks again,
Tom McCurdy

Jan 03, 2012
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Tom McCurdy
by: Bill Robertson

Further to our exchanges, Tom, the Adjutant is usually a captain who helps the Bn. CO in the administration of the Battalion. It is customary for the Adjutant to be the Pipe President to be who the P/M is reposible to in matters concerning the oragnised training of the pipers and the band, parades, engagements and the like etc. Any concerns of the P/M would start with the Pipe President, although at times on to the CO. You will fand that when P&D make recording or appearnces etc., that it is always by kind permission of the CO.
A good dictionary explains well the term Adjutant.
That would be a some work you suggest on my story. Perhaps if am still able and willing in a few years time when I pass on my work to another, I might have more time to do what you suggest.
Regards,
Bill

Jan 03, 2012
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About the experiences of PM Bill Robertson
by: Tom McCurdy

Thanks again for taking time to explain some more about the roll of the piper in the British Army. I appreciatey your explanation of the Pipe Major and some of the other things like an ' adjutant '. I didn't know what the term implied.

I suspect there are many wannabe pipers like myself who love the music but who also love the tradition that exist within the Scottish Regiments. Many of us likely have our passports from othr countries but for some reason we value what the Scottish piper has done for our common history.

PM Robertson you really should write about your experiences. It would be an amazing story to hear. You have successfully created a whole new entity of piping and piping instruction by the internet . . . could you carry this momentum forward to create a momoir or a book? With pictures of course and some appropriate music scores in the right places.

Just a thought. My check will be in the mail for advance copies :-)

Cheers,
Tom McCurdy

Jan 02, 2012
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Tom McCurdy
by: Bill Robertson

Back again afer reading your reply, thank you Tom.
Duncan MacRae I would say did not represent the P/M figure, but rather in a underhand/soft comical way - - perhaps because we were used to him acting his way. He had a part in Whisky Galore film.
You are mostly correct in that good P/M's earn the respect of their pipers, and their commanding officers. I think from the COs and the adjutant (pipe president) like to have their pipes and drums, esp. the pipers as they are unique within the regiments and Army and provide that extra "colour" espcially when VIPs are guests on special Officers' Mess eveneings when the pipers play (not too much) for the guests at the end of the meal. The P/M is often called in to meet the dignatries (show off if you like).
I know if some ex P/Ms who did not behave weel at times, yet escape any drastic punishment due to their position and worth - of course within reason as some did not last if silly etc.. Regards,
Bill

Jan 02, 2012
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Duncan McRae
by: Tom McCurdy

PM Richardson thanks for the note on the history and for taking the time to reply. The film industry usually has so much stuff wrong yet we give them so much credibility ? Go figure.

I didn't realize Duncan McRae was a well known commedian. He certainly was a good actor in that movie. He played the part well to earn the nick name ' Pipey ' from the rank and file. It was obvious that they respected him . . . so did the officers.

Cheers,Tom McCurdy

Jan 02, 2012
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Tom McCurdy
by: Bill Robertson

Thank you Tom for your appreciation of what I do to try and help pipers, prehaps like yourself.
What you relate I recall well. Duncan MacRae was a well know comedian who tended to play comical parts in movies.
Film producers tend to take liberties in making movies of historical events especially when it comes to piping as you noticed. I had one instance when my Pipes and Drums made some recordings for the film about the American Revolution on Britain and featuring Laffiette (spelling?). The scene depicted a Scottish regiment with either defending or attacking a position with back ground of Pipes and Drums which I think was supposed to be around 1812. We did the sound track with earphones and clicking rhyhtm of the troops steps. Afterwards, I spoke to the produces or director about authenticity in that pipes and drums were not officialy reckognised in the British Army (Highland Regiments) until 1854. A solo piper would have been more in keeping that P&D. He was not interested in the least.
Again thank you, and all the best for a Happy New Year.
Bill

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