What was the bagpipe’s role in battle?

| John Anderson | War

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Throughout history, Scotsmen have gone to war led by a Pipe Major playing his Great Bagpipe. His job was to help his unit mates to understand, in the chaos of the battlefield, where they were supposed to be and stay together.

Sometimes the pipe major was used to deceive and confuse the enemy regarding the unit’s whereabouts, and occasionally he would just play out loud to annoy the enemy.

Bonus fact 1: Bagpipes have been used in battle since the 13th century until World War I when the casualty rate of Pipe Majors soared.

Bonus fact 2: Despite the abovementioned, the Pipe Major was reintroduced in WW2 in the Battle of El Alamein (1943.) Losses among the pipers were high, so the Bagpipe was decommissioned for good…. almost. 

On D-day, 1944, the personal piper of Lord Lovat, request to paly in battle was approved. He marched up and down the beach playing his pipes under fire for the 1st Special Service Brigade. 

The final use of the pipes in combat was in 1967 when Her Majesty’s forces stormed a rebel-held Crater during the Aden Emergency.

Bonus Fact 3: Though the bagpipe is associated with Celtic culture, it appears to have originated in the middle east. It is even mentioned in the Jewish Talmud text as an instrument played in the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

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