Allan Harper was up next and in his selection he played the little heard Heroes of Oosterbreek. This is a 2 parted ¾ retreat march written by Angus Lawrie who was pipe major of the Strathclyde police band. In 1978 he visited Arnhem where, in 1944, the parachute brigade had tried to capture the bridge crossing and had suffered heavy losses. He decided to compose the tune when he found the grave of a young soldier called McCullough who was from his hometown, Oban.
Note: Operation Market Garden (17–25 September 1944) was an unsuccessful Allied military operation, fought in the Netherlands and Germany in the Second World War. It was the largest airborne operation up to that time.
Field Marshal Montgomery’s goal was to force an entry into Germany and over the Rhine. He wanted to circumvent the northern end of the Siegfried Line and this required the operation to seize the bridges across the Maas (Meuse River) and two arms of the Rhine (the Waal and the Lower Rhine) as well as several smaller canals and tributaries. Crossing the Lower Rhine would allow the Allies to encircle Germany’s industrial heartland in the Ruhr from the north. It made large-scale use of airborne forces, whose tactical objectives were to secure the bridges and allow a rapid advance by armored units into Northern Germany.
Initially, the operation was marginally successful, and several bridges between Eindhoven and Nijmegen were captured. However, Gen. Horrocks’ ground force’s advance was delayed by the demolition of a bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, an extremely overstretched supply line, at Son and failure to capture the main road bridge over the river Waal before 20 September. At Arnhem, the British 1st Airborne Division encountered far stronger resistance than anticipated. In the ensuing battle, only a small force managed to hold one end of the Arnhem road bridge and after the ground forces failed to relieve them, they were overrun on 21 September. The rest of the division, trapped in a small pocket west of the bridge, had to be evacuated on 25 September. The Allies had failed to cross the Rhine in sufficient force and the river remained a barrier to their advance until the offensives at Remagen, Oppenheim, Rees and Wesel in March 1945. The failure of Market Garden ended Allied expectations of finishing the war by Christmas 1944.
Craig Martin was next for shaving and warned up with Old Adam followed by the 10th HLI Crossing the Rhine.
Note Donald Shaw Ramsay was born in 1919 in Torphichen, Scotland. When he was eight, his first teacher was Sandy Forrest, who was then Pipe-Major of the Torphichen & Bathgate Pipe Band, which exists today, led by Pipe-Major Gordon Stafford and promoted to Grade 1 in October 2008. Ramsay enjoyed early success in solo competition, doing well in the junior categories at, among other events, the Northern Meeting. At 19, he became pipe-major of another local band, and the next year joined the 10th Battalion Highland Light Infantry, recruited by the colonel of the battalion to establish a band who pulled strings to ensure that Ramsay was part of his group. At the time, however, the minimum age for a British Army pipe-major was 21, but corners were cut and Ramsay became the latest “youngest pipe-major ever,” a title that seems to have been given to numerous people over the years. It was with the 10th HLI during the Second World War that Ramsay saw action, and wrote one of his first great compositions, the 6/8 march, “The 10th Battalion H.L.I. Crossing the Rhine.”
Craig finished off with a double MSR Donald MacLellan of Rothsey, Duncan McColl, Maggie Cameron, Sandy MacPherson, Broadford Bay and Dr. McPhail’s Reel.
Note: Operation Overlord was the code name for the Battle of Normandy, the operation that launched the invasion of German-occupied western Europe during World War II by Allied forces. The operation commenced on 6 June 1944 with the Normandy landings (Operation Neptune, commonly known as D-Day). A 12,000-plane airborne assault preceded an amphibious assault involving almost 7,000 vessels. Nearly 160,000 troops crossed the English Channel on 6 June; more than three million allied troops were in France by the end of August.
Fresh from a recital in Troon, Colin continued with a double MSR before finishing off with some musical hornpipes and jigs.
The PPP was Lachie Dick and once a wee adjustment was made to the F he was off and running into John MacDonald of Glencoe, Struan Robertson and The Smith of Chilliechassie. (Killiechassie is just outside Aberfeldy). Lachie finished off with some small reels before handing over to Roddy Weir who was on piobaireachd duties.
Roddy settled the pipe and played a lovely MacDougall’s Gathering. This is a very bold tune and at one time may have gone under the banner of a Salute. It certainly has that robust proud makeup that requires the piper to step up to the plate with a bold approach. Roddy did exactly that and it was a fitting end to the evening.
A fine warm up for a visit to the Royal Scottish Piper’s Society on Friday 15th November. More of that later!