David Forsyth, Principle Curator at the National Museum of Scotland tells the story of Piper James (Jimmy) Cleland Richardson VC. James Richardson and was born in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire in 1895 where he joined the Boy Scouts and learned to play the bagpipes. He was known as “Jimmy” and in 1913, aged 17 he immigrated to Canada with his family. As a 20-year-old Piper with the 16th (Canadian) Scottish Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was awarded the Victoria Cross, the British Commonwealth's highest military honour for rallying his troops with his pipes on October 8th, 1916, at Regina Trench, during the latter stages of the Battle of the Somme. "Piper Richardson strode up and down outside the wire, playing his pipes with the greatest coolness. The effect was instantaneous. Inspired by his splendid example, the company rushed the wire, the obstacle was overcome and the position captured." Later that same day, Richardson put down his pipes to carry a wounded soldier back to the trenches. When Richardson went back to get the pipes, he was never seen again alive. Piper Richardson was awarded the Victoria Cross posthumously. The pipes were found by a military chaplain who took them back to Scotland, where they went on display at a private school in Perthshire where they remained for until they were identified based on their tartan. In 2006, the pipes were repatriated to Canada and have been on permanent display in the British Columbia legislature building. Richardson’s pipes are currently on loan and on public display in Edinburgh at the National Museum of Scotland and feature as part of an exhibition Common Cause: Commonwealth Scots and the Great War 11th of July - 12th of October 2014.
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