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Flett
09-22-2006, 03:39 PM
Does anyone know the history of this tune? I assume it is Flotta, Orkney and probably no relation but I've always wondered about my namesake tune.

Cheers
David

Don Robertson
09-22-2006, 04:11 PM
I think it's about Flett, who was from Flotta.
Hope this helps.
:hatoff:

But seriously;
The story behind this tune is to be found in The Piping Times Vol. 50 No. 5,
February 1998. William A. Flett was a piper in the Seaforths with Donald
MacLeod. Mr. Flett was born at Garson, Flotta in the Orkney Islands.
William Flett (Jock) died at the beginning of 1998 in New South Wales, his
home since 1967. Born in Garston, Flotta, he joined the Seaforths and served
for 22 years, playing alongside Donald MacLeod for much of this time.

:hatoff:

Flett
09-22-2006, 04:24 PM
William Flett (Jock) <-- You would not believe how common a name and nickname combination this is. I'll have to look up Mr WA Flett as a piper though cheers.

As for the origin of the tune however, I have been told before that it went under the name of another tune for a while. Who was the original composer?

Ian Lawther
09-22-2006, 04:47 PM
If you can get hold of a copy of "51st Highland Division at War" by Roderick Grant (Ian Allan, 1977) you will find a picture of Piper Flett holding his pipes while leaning against a Bren carrier and chatting to its crew. The picture was taken in North Africa. If I could find my copy I'd scan the photie but you might be quicker requesting it through your local library.

Ian

Don Robertson
09-22-2006, 07:26 PM
Originally posted by Flett:
William Flett (Jock) <-- You would not believe how common a name and nickname combination this is. I'll have to look up Mr WA Flett as a piper though cheers.

As for the origin of the tune however, I have been told before that it went under the name of another tune for a while. Who was the original composer? I think you'd find a closer relationship to the tune if you could get a listing of the pipers of the old Seaforth Regiment.
:hatoff:
Also, as I understand it, the tune is attributed to Donald MacLeod of The Seaforths.

Robert McDonald
09-26-2006, 06:43 AM
The story (told to my father by Wee Donald himself) was that the regimental silver was on it's way down to London for a big 'do' and Donald and another soldier were guarding the silver in the guards van (appropriately enough ...).

They took their chanters to while away the time practicing and presently Donald said that they should make a tune to pass the time and when the tune was finished they were looking for a name for it and he asked the big soldier what his name was and where he was from and the rest is (as they say) history.

Robert
EKPB

John MacDonald
09-26-2006, 11:34 AM
Robert

If the Flett family Genes are true to form I can confirm that the Fletts would be BIG men.

My last year in the British Army was spent unaccompanied in Detmould attached to a REME Aircraft workshop.

I had been asked to do a RSM's Dinner Night early one evening as the serving R.S.M had originally been in the Black Watch. I did the job, received the dram and the E.D PAY (EXTRA DUTY) and then was hauled off by a few of the Sergeants whom had been my contemporaries to spend my ill gotten gains down the town.

We then duly went into one of the nearest(and chepest) soldiers bars which was Heaving. As soon as I got in the door my pipes were taken out of my hands by a bear of a man and initially my hackles were up as he was obviously a REME recovery mechanic from the adjoining Armoured workshop, and "Fu " to boot.

Anyhow he duly played the pipes quite acceptably so my need to be hospitalised was averted. This turned out to be Flett's Grandson- small world indeed!!!!!!

Robbo
10-03-2006, 07:03 AM
Originally posted by Robert McDonald:
The story (told to my father by Wee Donald himself) was that the regimental silver was on it's way down to London for a big 'do' and Donald and another soldier were guarding the silver in the guards van (appropriately enough ...).

They took their chanters to while away the time practicing and presently Donald said that they should make a tune to pass the time and when the tune was finished they were looking for a name for it and he asked the big soldier what his name was and where he was from and the rest is (as they say) history.

Robert
EKPB

Robbo
10-03-2006, 07:27 AM
Originally posted by Robert McDonald:
The story (told to my father by Wee Donald himself) was that the regimental silver was on it's way down to London for a big 'do' and Donald and another soldier were guarding the silver in the guards van (appropriately enough ...).

They took their chanters to while away the time practicing and presently Donald said that they should make a tune to pass the time and when the tune was finished they were looking for a name for it and he asked the big soldier what his name was and where he was from and the rest is (as they say) history.

Robert
EKPB Sorry, I'll try that again...

To add to your tale, Robert: My teacher in Aberdeen knew Donald Macleod as well and apparently the tune was written after observing the peculiar gait of the Flett in question. The rythm is supposed to reflect his awkward walking style. Helps with the phrasing of the tune if you think of it like that too!

Cheers
Rob

Flett
10-21-2006, 06:04 PM
I really need to look at these forums more often. I love these "stories" that accompany tunes, espescially the old, common as muck ones like Flett.
Rob, who was your tutor in Aberdeen? Know any more about Mr WA Flett? He's likely no relation o mine, since he's a) from orkney and b) according to john above, a big lad. no big fletts i know of!
Anyhoo, cheers for the info guys! Now i have another question (for another thread).

windy75
05-27-2007, 05:41 PM
I know that it has been a while since this thread was alive but I just came across this while doing some research into my family.

Flett from Flotta was indeed composed during a train journey to London guarding the regimental silver. My great uncle Arnot Flett is the "William Jock Flett" referred to earlier. Donald MacLeod composed the song as a tribute to him as they travelled together on that train journey. He was born in a croft called Garson, on the island of Flotta in Orkney. My grandfather Malcolm Flett was also born there as were most of my family. That croft was demolished in about 1976 when they built an oil terminal on the island. I stayed there as a young boy and have fond memories of those holidays. On this map you can see a curvey bay at the bottom right of the square. That is where Garson was located.

http://www.wikimapia.org/#y=58839422&x=-3117628&z=14&l=0&m=a&v=2

We all knew him as Arnot which is the "A" in W A Flett. He was a giant man and fought with the seaforth highlanders. He fought in North Africa during WW11. Of the 20 pipers he fought along side, only 5 came back. (The germans must have seen him and fled in panic) I remember him from when I was a boy. He would come back from Australia with his wife Joyce. He was a very quietly spoken man but very very tall. The pipes he had played for most of his piping life and went to war with, are still in the family, having been sent back from Australia after his death. His namesake Arnot Flett now has them. He had them reconditioned and plays them regularly at functions and special occassions. He is my fathers brother and is the former pipe major of the Kirwall pipe band. He now teaches the pipes from his home in Orkney. At my wedding we walked into the reception to the sound of "Flett from Flotta" being played on those very pipes. To have Flett from Flotta played on the pipes which once belonged to the man it was written for is quite an emotional experience. This is a picture of uncle Arnot (jnr) playing those very pipes. (its a back view, but the only picture I could find)

http://www.orcadian.co.uk/features/articles/p&ofeature/farewell.htm


The "Bear of a man" referred to earlier is my cousin Trevor Flett who has recently retired from the army. He is gigantic and takes size 15 boots. He is now a driving instructor in Aberdeen. He looks like Hagred from the Harry Potter films. He has a younger brother who is also gigantic. So I guess there are some quite large Fletts out there.

I have loads of family tales about Uncle Arnot and his exploits and would love to share the history of the great man to which "Flett from Flotta" is a lasting memory.

windy75
06-01-2007, 03:52 AM
Here is a bit of an update.

I've had a chat with my Dad to try and get more info. He has a recording on cassette tape of Donald MaCLeod talking on radio Scotland many years ago, where he recounts the tale of how the tune was composed.

It seems that he and Arnot (Flett) composed the tune together while sitting on the crates containing the regimental silver on that train journey to London.

I also learned that the tune "The Seagull" (Donald MaCleod) was composed as a tribute to Great Uncle Arnot and his pet seagull. While staying at their barracks in Fort George (I think) Arnot took care of a seagull with a broken wing and nursed it back to health. Trouble was though, it wouldnt leave and became his companion, even following him onto the parade ground, much to everyones amusement. Donald MaCleod wrote the tune as a result.

I have been talking to Uncle Arnot today to get some more info. He has a copy of that book with the picture of "Jock" at the bren carrier. He also has other pictures of the great man. He has pictures of his old homestead "Garson". He is going to e-mail to me so when I receive them I will post them here.

As there as so many versions of the story going around and with each year passing detail is being lost he has decided to compile a life story with a view to publishing it. He is confident it will be ready by the end of the year.

If anyone has any history, or have relations who knew the man and perhaps fought along side him, we would be grateful. You could either add them here or e-mail them to me via my profile.

dfagan
06-13-2007, 01:05 PM
I would love to read that book once its published. Please keep us informed..

Bill Gority
06-14-2007, 06:37 AM
.........As there as so many versions of the story going around and with each year passing detail is being lost he has decided to compile a life story with a view to publishing it. He is confident it will be ready by the end of the year.........

Put me down for this when published. I'd love to purchase a copy.

windy75
07-06-2007, 12:34 PM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: windy75</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
.........As there as so many versions of the story going around and with each year passing detail is being lost he has decided to compile a life story with a view to publishing it. He is confident it will be ready by the end of the year.........

Put me down for this when published. I'd love to purchase a copy. </div></div>

Thanks for the message. I will have to speak again to Uncle Arnot to see how he is getting. He was going to send me pictures of Garson and pictures of Gt Uncle Arnot but said something about having to rescue his scanner from under a file of music scores. Watch this space.

windy75
08-17-2007, 03:53 PM
Sorry about the delay in posting the pictures but Uncle Arnot has been having e-mail problems. I have managed to find a picture of Great Uncle Arnot. This was taken by his wife Joy when they over from Australia in 1979.
He is the chap on the left standing with my mum, dad and sister.(Rodney, Joan and Julia Flett)

So at last you can put a face to Flett (from Flotta)

Click the thumbnail for a bigger picture

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_Uncle-Arnot.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/Uncle-Arnot.jpg)

Andrew L. Hagen
08-17-2007, 04:46 PM
Oh,

Please put me down for a copy of any forthcoming book! That would be wonderful!

- Andrew

windy75
09-09-2007, 08:01 AM
I have been talking to Uncle Arnot again. It seems I may have started a bit of a mini war up in Orkney. Arnot was a founding Stromness Royal British Legion Pipe band, of which he eventually became Pipe Major. (Not the Kirkwall pipe band) When he read this he sent me a message asking.."Are you trying to start another bloody War?"

Just one more; My Cousin Trevor started a driving School in INVERNESS not ABERDEEN....So my apologies for those people in Aberdeen who have been looking for Hagred driving around.

Uncle Arnot has managed to locate a picture of Garson (the homestead of Flett from Flotta) but he is still trying to persuade the computer to talk to the scanner.

I am hoping to go up to Orkney myself later this year. Some people have asked whether it is wise to go up there in October, but from what I understand, Orkney has 9 months of winter, followed by 3 months of bad weather!. All going well, I will be visiting Flotta while I am there. I have been told there is secret cave where a particular breed of bagpipes flourish. I might try to capture myself a breeding pair.

windy75
09-16-2007, 02:57 PM
I spent many hours today with my Dad, going through old photos.

I have found some old photos of "Garson", and some pictures of Arnot (Jock) in his later years.

I also have a photo of 4 generations. Jock's brother,(my Grandfather), Jock's father (my Great Grandfather), Jock's Grandfather, (My Great Great Grandfather) and Jock's nephew, (My uncle. The picture was taken at Garson on Flotta. They are all called Malcolm Flett. (A tradition in the Flett family is that the eldest son of the eldest son is always called Malcolm)

These may be of interest to any Fletts out there looking at their family history.

Once I have scanned them I will post them here.

windy75
10-06-2007, 05:21 AM
Well, it's taken some time to sort out, but here are the pictures. They won't perhaps be of much interest to most people, but any Fletts on here looking for some family history will find it interesting.

Click on the pictures for a larger version



This is a newspaper cutting of "Flett from Flotta" planning to come back from Australia.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_Artonjoynewspaper.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/Artonjoynewspaper.jpg)


This is William and his wife Joy (Extreme right)with other member of the family. (His older brother in the chair) This was probably the last time he came back to Orkney before his homestead on Flotta was demolished. (Sadly the croft was demolished in 1976 to make way for the oil terminal)

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_ArnotandJoy.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/ArnotandJoy.jpg)


This is the croft on Flotta which was the home to many generations of Flett, including William. It was located in Pan Bay which is now the site of the main oil terminal. It was a beautiful place, surrounded by lovely sweet smelling heather and fantastic views across the bay. It is a fairly flat island and life there very hard. You had to be tough to survive an Orkney winter. (9 months long, followed by 3 months of bad weather)

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_garsoncolour.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/garsoncolour.jpg)


Another one of Garson.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_garson2.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/garson2.jpg)


Garson again.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_garson.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/garson.jpg)


This is an old photo of Garson with Williams Dad on the roof, and his nephew bellow.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_tommyggdadgarsonroof.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/tommyggdadgarsonroof.jpg)


These are maps of Orkney and Flotta. Pan Bay was locates in the centre of the "C", a lovely sheltered bay.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_orkney.gif (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney.gif)

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_Flotta_WW.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/Flotta_WW.jpg)


This is the Flett crest as it appears in a stained glass window in Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall Orkney. (second from the bottom)

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_flettcrestmagnuscathedral.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/flettcrestmagnuscathedral.jpg)



As it was tradition that the eldest son was named Malcolm, this is 4 generations of Flett, all called Malcolm. The photo was taken at Pan Bay on Flotta, in front of Garson. The boy is Williams nephew, top left is his brother, top right is his Dad, and his Grandad is the one in the middle.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_4generations.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/4generations.jpg)


I hope these photos have been of interest.

classicbagpipes
10-07-2007, 07:39 AM
Ok I have question for Windy 75. I have a piping student here in Atlanta. She was at a computer class taking a class on programming.
The instructor was a Scottish fellow by the name of Flett. Her curiosity got the better of her and she talked with him about the tune and he said that yes his grandfather did play pipes and he was from FLotta. Though he himself didn't play pipes at all. Could this be another member of the family here in the states???

windy75
10-07-2007, 05:47 PM
Ok I have question for Windy 75. I have a piping student here in Atlanta. She was at a computer class taking a class on programming.
The instructor was a Scottish fellow by the name of Flett. Her curiosity got the better of her and she talked with him about the tune and he said that yes his grandfather did play pipes and he was from FLotta. Though he himself didn't play pipes at all. Could this be another member of the family here in the states???

I think that this is very likely. A recent genetic study of the name Flett showed a link to the island of Flotta. There was a Viking link, but also Pictish gene. The Pics were an early race which occupied the Orkney islands many millennia ago. I would suspect that the majority of Fletts in the world would be able to find a link to Flotta, which is a surprise, as you will see from the maps above, that the island is only very small. It does give me a feeling of "belonging" but also a lot of bitterness that the family croft was taken from us. We were paid 15,000 as a compensation when they imposed a compulsory purchase order. They have since collected many millions in rent and rates from the oil company which makes it even harder to swallow.

windy75
10-24-2007, 01:29 PM
I have just returned from a week in Orkney. I visited Flotta and had an interesting experience. The ticket guy at the Ferry terminal asked me, upon learning me name, "Not another Flett from Flotta" How close he was huh?.

I have been given some old pictures which I need to scan. 1 is of William A Flett at about the time he was ready for war, full outfit with pipes. The other is a photo of the Seathforths band taken in 1942.

I also have some photos I took myself which I will post when the photobucket server is up and running.

windy75
10-24-2007, 02:30 PM
Photobucket is now working.

This is a picture of Annie, Kittie and Dolly, who are the 3 sisters of William A Flett.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney/th_AnnieKittyFlettOther.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney/AnnieKittyFlettOther.jpg)

This is Pan Bay Flotta with the oil terminal in the background. Garson, the home of Flett from Flotta was sited just to the left of the terminal across the water. The wreck of the old boat has been there as long as anyone can remember.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney/th_Old-Boat-Pan-Bay-Flotta.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney/Old-Boat-Pan-Bay-Flotta.jpg)

This is a picture of the sun rising over Flotta with Scapa flow in the foreground.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney/th_Autumn-Sunrise-Scapa-Flow.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney/Autumn-Sunrise-Scapa-Flow.jpg)

This is the Gospel Hall on Pan Bay. Williams Father was the preacher at the Gospel Hall which still stand today complete with pews and wood panels

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney/th_Gospel-Hall-Pan-Bay.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/orkney/Gospel-Hall-Pan-Bay.jpg)

I hope you agree that it looks like a magical place to live.

Azat
10-24-2007, 11:37 PM
Thank you,windy75. Fantastic photos !:thumb:
Flett from Flotta - my favourite march :)

windy75
12-11-2007, 08:42 AM
Well, at last I have managed to get some pictures scanned that I brought back from Orkney.

Click on the photos for a larger version.

This is the band of the Seaforth Highlanders, taken in 1942. William A Flett is on the extreme left, holding his pipes.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_Band42SeaforthHighlanders1942.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/Band42SeaforthHighlanders1942.jpg)



And this a a picture of the man himself, taken around the same time.

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_WillamAFlett.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/WillamAFlett.jpg)

dfagan
12-11-2007, 01:04 PM
Thank you for all the photos and info. Any update on the status of that book ???

windy75
12-12-2007, 01:09 AM
Thank you for all the photos and info. Any update on the status of that book ???

It is in its very early stages. He hasn't progressed beyond boyhood but it is coming along in fits and starts. I don't think it will be a "book", more of an epitaph to his life which will serve to dispel some of the myths and misinformation which has started to circulate. Arnot is trying to gather information from relatives of some of his fellow band members so if anyone knows anyone with information it would be appreciated.

windy75
12-25-2007, 02:19 AM
Some more pictures.

These are Flett from Flotta's medals.


http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_Arnots-medals.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/Arnots-medals.jpg)


And this is a closer picture of the Flett crest

http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/th_Flett-crest.jpg (http://i114.photobucket.com/albums/n249/densil75/Flett-crest.jpg)

John MacDonald
12-25-2007, 05:14 AM
Windy

What does the coat of arms supposed to depict?

Trevor will probably set me straight of our paths cross again - but there appear to be x3 reproductive shamrocks here and the centrepiece is a total mystery.

Is Roithman another Scandanavian/Orcadian name?

windy75
12-26-2007, 11:35 AM
Windy

What does the coat of arms supposed to depict?

Trevor will probably set me straight of our paths cross again - but there appear to be x3 reproductive shamrocks here and the centrepiece is a total mystery.

Is Roithman another Scandanavian/Orcadian name?

The centre piece is a horn (like the Vikings had on their hats)

The trefoils are either supposed to represent "perpetuity" (past, present, future)or "fertility and abundance." (not sure which in this case, but the fertility and abundance works for me!!)


Roithman is a term for a Council-man, or one of the 'best landed men' obliged to attend head courts. (Not my words, this quote comes from a geneology website.) The reference appears to be unique to Orkney.

So, in summary. A Flett could be described as a horny Viking who has managed to get a job on the council.

windy75
12-26-2007, 11:41 AM
John,

Your description of Fletts being rather large men is not too far off the mark.

This is a picture I had taken in Orkney sitting with my Uncle Arnot and Aunty Mina. I am the guy in the middle. (Not too large just yet)

You can see from the picture why Trevor turned out to be "A bear of a man"

http://www.orkneycommunities.co.uk/imagelibrary/picture/number7042.asp

Piper Power
12-26-2007, 04:33 PM
Just love reading anothers history fellars. I often wonder about tunes and their background history. Most people don't think their personal history is of interest to another. You would be supprised with the answer if you asked. Flett From Flotta is one of our bands tunes and is one of my favouries.

Any one else have the history on other tunes/bands/people???????

John MacDonald
01-20-2008, 05:25 PM
Wwindy

Here is a photo I ran across totally by accident


http://www.cabarfeidhpipes.com/gallery/gallery.asp?cat=6&amp;item=468&amp;show=190806-Arnie$Flett.jpg

windy75
01-28-2008, 10:03 AM
Hey, thanks for the link. I'd had the picture e-mailed after I returned from Orkney. I knocked my laptop off the armchair and it went "sparks" I lost loads of photos, but thankfully had most of them saved on disc...apart from that one which was in my e-mail folder. Good to see it again. Thanks

windy75
05-23-2011, 03:46 PM
Hi folks. A bit of an update. Sadly my uncle Arnot died this week. There has been a big family get together in Orkney, and we shall be visiting Flotta this weekend. Everyone in Orkney knew Arnie as "the piper" and he will be a sad loss to the piping community, not to mention the Orkney community as a whole. St Magnus Cathedral was filled, with standing room only. I was brought to tears when Steven Flett, (Flett from Flotta's grand nephew) filled the vast space of the cathedral with Flett from Flotta played perfectly. Earlier in this threat there is a reference to the Fletts being big men. The "Bear of a man" mentioned earlier is Trevor Flett. He has come home to Orkney and I've had a bit of a blether. He remembers the conversation in Germany very clearly and had a bit of a chuckle. I managed to get a wide angled camera and took a couple of photos. He really is a bear of a man. I'll post the photo when I can get it downloaded.

Bill M
05-23-2011, 04:45 PM
Sorry to hear about your uncle & thanks for the updates!