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The E-Sylum:  Volume 8, Number 41, September 25, 2005, Article 2

PIPER OF LOOS VICTORIA CROSS GIVEN TO MUSEUM

Today (Sunday, September 25, 2005), Scotsman.com published
a story about a rare and important medal being given to the
National Museums of Scotland:

"A Victoria Cross, awarded for one of the most famous acts of
gallantry of the First World War, will be gifted to the nation today.

Scottish piper Daniel Laidlaw defied poison gas and his own fear
to climb from his trench, play 'Blue Bonnets over the Border' and
inspire troops to advance on the enemy during the Battle of Loos.

He was awarded the ultimate battlefield honour and went down in
the history books as the Piper of Loos.

Today, on the 90th anniversary of the battle, the piper's grandson,
Victor Laidlaw, will donate his Victoria Cross - worth 100,000 -
to the National Museums of Scotland.

The medal, one of only 74 awarded to Scots during the conflict,
and arguably the most famous, will be handed over at a low-key
ceremony at the Loos Museum, Belgium."

"Laidlaw said his father was adamant the medal should eventually
go on display, but that the piper's regiment, the Kings Own Scottish
Borderers, could not accept it.

He said: "My father was quite adamant that these things should
not be hidden in vaults. The regiment had great difficulty with this
because of insurance problems."

"Daniel Laidlaw was born in 1875 in Little Swinton, Berwickshire.
He joined the 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry (DLI) on April
11, 1896, and was immediately posted to India, where he served
for two years until June 1898.

After returning to Britain he transferred to the KOSB as a piper
and 17 years later found himself in the middle of one of the most
savage battles of the First World War.

But it wasn't until an assault near Loos and Hill 70 on the morning
of September 25, 1915, that he made his way into the history books.
During the worst stages of a bombardment on German trenches,
Piper Laidlaw saw that his men were shaken by the effects of gas.

With complete disregard for his own safety, he mounted the
parapet, marched up and down and played 'Blue Bonnets Over the
Border' on his pipes, inspiring the regiment, the 7th Battalion King's
Own Scottish Borderers to advance."

"Allan Carswell, principal curator of military history at the
National Museums of Scotland, said: "Victoria Crosses are
extremely rare in comparative terms. They are the highest form of
award for gallantry awarded by the British Crown. There have
only ever been about 1,300 awarded. In military museum terms
they really are the things the vast majority of our public will
recognise and respond to.

"What makes it additionally interesting is that it is a very archetypical
Scottish story. It is awarded to a piper doing exactly what pipers
in Scottish regiments are best known for which is encouraging the
men into an attack."

"I have a very vivid picture of him standing there playing the pipes
walking along unscathed but nevertheless under heavy fire encouraging
other people. You can't get more of an exemplar of grace, coolness
under fire, than the Piper of Loos."

Full Story

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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