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History, Tradition, Heritage As related to the subjects of piping, drumming and pipe bands.

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Old 05-01-2014, 08:55 PM   #21
pancelticpiper
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

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Originally Posted by erracht View Post
I wonder what that fine-looking silver and ivory pipe P/M MacRae is playing was. IIRC, such tall, heavy projecting mounts were made by Wm. Sinclair?
It's probably the full silver set owned by the regiment



When I met PM MacRae in the early 80s he had recently retired from the Army and found himself without a set to play, having played the ornate Pipe Major's regimental set for several decades. He ordered a new set, from Hardie as I recall, with a special narrow-bore bass bottom section to "boost the sound into the room" as he said it. That new set was probably what he won his Gold Medal on.
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Old 05-02-2014, 04:15 AM   #22
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

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Originally Posted by pancelticpiper View Post

Adam this portrait is fascinating on several levels



For one, I believe that the pipers of the 93rd might have been the first to wear doublets, a thing usually credited to the pipers of the 79th. (All British infantry wore scarlet coatees at that time.)

Secondly, look at all those variously coloured ribbons! I wonder if they each had a separate Battle Honour on them.

It's a window to the time when each regiment dressed its pipers in distinctive unique dress, recalling the days when pipers were dressed in livery.
It's a cracker, isn't it? It's a portrait of Pipe Major James Wilson of the 93rd by David Cunliffe. Apart from the points you mention, the garters are also huge compared to later dress.

Cunliffe was based in Portsmouth, and was a prolific military painter. Here is a Cunliffe portrait of a piper of the 79th done in the same year, or possibly a year later, 1853. The dress looks more familiar to our eyes.


Actual uniforms for army pipers were not regulated until 1855, when I think the "archer green" doublets became official. It's believed that the doublets of the 79th were deemed better looking and therefore suitable for all regiments. (In itself this is quite ironic, because the reason that the 79th wore archer green was that their LtCol, the Right Hon Lauderdale Maule, was engaged in a campaign to have the 79th redesignated the Highland Rifles, and all rifle units wore the archer green. Maule's campaign was unsuccessful, but the archer green remained.
Until then, it appears that a piper's uniform was often the whim of the commanding officer. Cunliffe's 1853 painting, "The Sword Dance", features a piper and some soldiers of the 93rd at Chobham barracks. The piper has been a topic of some discussion as he appears to be wearing a mixture of 42nd, 92nd and 93rd kit. This was entirely due to Capt J.R. Ewart of the 93rd, who simply collected the best looking soldiers and bits of kit from any Highland Regiment present at Chobham, and dressed his models up for the artist.
More info can be found in Stuart Reid's book, Queen Victoria's Highlanders.
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Old 05-02-2014, 05:53 AM   #23
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

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More info can be found in Stuart Reid's book, Queen Victoria's Highlanders.
But beware of the illustrations! (The colour plates.) My overview of the quality of the illustrations in the various Osprey publications contains the following about the book in question:

Queen Victoria's Highlanders (illustrated by Gerry Embleton) : These illustrations are somewhat crude and aren't clear and contain various inaccuracies. Like Chappell he doesn't understand how diced hose-tops are made and worn. Also he sometimes shows dicing on headdress incorrectly. He consistently shows spats being far too tall.

Taking one plate (F) in detail, the cuffs on the BW officer's doublet are completely wrong, with the positions of the piping and lace reversed, and the sporran is wrong regarding both the cantle and tassels. The piper's sporran is wrong and he's shown wearing a Royal Stewart plaid with a Black Watch kilt! The hardware on the waistbelt and crossbelt are both incorrect. On plate G the Seaforth Highlanders' sporran is wrong, the tassels having brass cones (!) and the cantle missing its badge.

(Here is my full overview of the Osprey kilt-related colour plates)
http://www.xmarksthescot.com/forum/f...-errors-79267/
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Old 05-02-2014, 06:07 AM   #24
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

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Actual uniforms for army pipers were not regulated until 1855, when I think the "archer green" doublets became official. It's believed that the doublets of the 79th were deemed better looking and therefore suitable for all regiments. (In itself this is quite ironic, because the reason that the 79th wore archer green was that their LtCol, the Right Hon Lauderdale Maule, was engaged in a campaign to have the 79th redesignated the Highland Rifles, and all rifle units wore the archer green. Maule's campaign was unsuccessful, but the archer green remained.
I hadn't heard the "Highland Rifles" story.

The more obvious explanation of why the Cameron Highlanders put their pipers into green doublets in the 1840s is that the Cameron Highlanders had always had green facings on their scarlet jackets, and it was a longstanding tradition to put musicians in jackets of 'reversed colours'. Their musicians would have been dressed in green jackets from the very raising of the regiment.

So one would see musicians in yellow jackets in regiments having yellow facings etc. for example the pipers of the 92nd



In the USA this meant, for some units, having the musicians in scarlet jackets (the very colour of the enemy, in the Revolution) which survives to this day in the US military.



It's interesting that some of the Highland regiments put their musicians in the same scarlet as the rest of the regiment, while some put them in reversed colours like the other musicians, and others put them in tartan jackets.

BTW some regimental peculiarities survived the 1855 reforms, for example the pipers of the Gordons continued to wear Balmoral bonnets after the other regimental pipers switched to Glengarries. I believe by the time the 1881 reforms came around that nearly all the pipers were in a more or less standardized kit.
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Old 09-09-2017, 08:53 AM   #25
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

Back to the iconography of Evan MacRae/Mcrae, he's on the cover of Illustrated Magazine in 1952:



Interesting to see that the Cameron Highlanders, which they switched from Cameron Of Erracht kilts & plaids to Royal Stewart, switched their bag-covers from the traditional selfcoloured green to Cameron Of Erracht tartan. Also that MacRae is wearing a version of the Cameron Highlanders dirk with knife & fork.

Here's a bit of the featurette inside. I see that even in 1952 Edinburgh Castle was crawling with tourists.

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Old 09-09-2017, 11:32 PM   #26
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

That bag cover in Erracht tartan is a very rare occurrence, even during the time the Camerons wore the Royal Stuart tartan. Most photos show a plain bag cover (green), but there are an odd few that show the Cameron of Erracht tartan bag cover. I suppose this could have been the sort of trial things one sees in the Scottish regiments of those times (the immediate post-war generation), a lot of experimentation that didn't generally stick around very long (more balmoral bonnets instead of glengarries, those strange white leather sporrans, Highland and Lowland Brigade cap badges, and so on).

I remember that Cameron Highlanders pipes and drums LP! Had a copy myself in the 70s. I recall it being distinctly low-fidelity, not a good recording at all, but it had some fascinating regimental tunes, including the four-part Brown-Haired Maiden that you almost never hear anymore.

I diligently collect military history and uniform books and I do not see British army pipers in contemporary illustrations wearing anything but the standard infantry red coat until the 1840s and 1850s. Pipers were not on the rolls as "musicians" and so would not have been issued coats in the reversed colors -- they wore standard uniform plus a few distinguishing features such as broadswords, maybe full plaids, etc., according to regimental whim or tradition. Serving pipers were usually performing regular soldier's duties when not needed for music. And they went into the field with the battalion even at times and places when the military band remained behind.

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Old 09-10-2017, 08:54 AM   #27
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

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I remember that Cameron Highlanders pipes and drums LP! Had a copy myself in the 70s. I recall it being distinctly low-fidelity, not a good recording at all, but it had some fascinating regimental tunes, including the four-part Brown-Haired Maiden that you almost never hear anymore.
This is actually one of my favorite old piping LPs. I converted all my LPs to CDs; I still have the CD. My favorite set is "Echo Bank/The Inverness Gathering". Of the regimental tunes, some of the really good ones they play are "We Will Take the Good Old Way" (referred to as "Loch Lomond" on the sleeve; it's a 4-part, better version of "The High Road to Gairloch"), and the "Long Reveille" ("Point of War", "Johnnie Cope" and and "Up in the Morning Early" referred to as "Up in the Morning's No For Me" on the sleeve). Also of interest are "The Sands of Loch Bee" and "The Road to Gerinish", rare but rousing 2-part marches.
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Old 09-10-2017, 09:38 AM   #28
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

This one?

http://r.ebay.com/KXjK6u


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Old 09-10-2017, 11:21 AM   #29
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

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... I was under the impression that beards weren't allowed in the British Army - or are there certain positions that allow beards. Eg in the Australian Army, only the sergeants in the Assault Pioneers are allowed beards, in fact it's mandatory. I think it goes back to the days when beards were allowed and the beards were used to wipe the traces of gunpowder off their hands.

Can any fellow forum followers help out with this one?

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I do not believe the assertion that beards were ever used as hand-towels.

In the days when Infantry battalions marched rather than drove, the Pioneers marched at the front of the column, ostensibly to clear the way with the axes, shovels and picks that they still carry on some full-dress parades.

At one point ALL members of an Infantry Pioneer Platoon were required to be bearded. This - according to Colonel David Murray - was to make them appear more fierce-looking.

This custom is still observed by the French Foreign Legion.

Regarding the fashions of facial hair in the armies of the British Empire: military fashion used to react (by our standards) relatively quickly to changes in influence - and in this case the influence was the unexpected victory of the Prussians over the French in the Franco-Prussian War.

The French Army pre-1871 was the standard by which all other European armies were measured, and this perception strongly influenced military fashion - as evidenced in the 'kepi', loosely-tailored frock coats (comfortable, but looked untidy as all hell) and beards worn by several armies of that era - including the US Army.

Within a very few years after the Prussian victory over the French we see the disappearance of the French fashion: the kepi (which was replaced by a national variant of the Prussian pickelhaube - including the British Home Service helmet, the horse-hair plumed steel helmets worn by Dragoon and Horse-Guards and even the British "Bobby" helmet worn by police) , the loose frock is replaced by a more-tightly tailored and shorter jacket and facial hair is reduced to a (sometimes compulsory) moustache - all originally 'Prussian' in style.
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Old 09-10-2017, 11:58 AM   #30
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Default Re: The iconography of PM Evan MacRae

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There was a time when bearded pipers were keenly sought after and pipers with beards were paid extra in order to encourage facial hair growth. Alexander "Ned" Campbell of the 5th Camerons was ordered to grow a beard by his C.O. Gordon Asher of the 5th Seaforths was famously bearded. Both of these men played at the Battle of El Alamein. Ian King of the London Scottish had a full beard. When I first saw Gavin Stoddart compete in uniform, he was bearded, if I mind right.

I think it might just go back to tradition. If you look at old pics of, say, the 71st, 72nd, 78th, 79th regimental pipers they all have the huge beards that were popular in Victorian times, when many of our traditions were born.
Much depended on the Colonel's whims....

Our own 'Pipey' WO1 Ed Esson MBE received permission/was ordered to grow a beard sometime shortly after our 1st Bn was warned for overseas service in 1939.

It looked well, but he found it uncomfortable in the dust and heat of Sicily and southern Italy, and I'm told that by the end of the Sicilian campaign he was applying for permission to shave at every Commanding Officer's "O - group"!

But, again, it 'looked well' and each request was refused until the closing moments of the War in NW Europe when (perhaps distracted) the new CO signed the chitty.

Colonel Clark changed his mind once the Adjutant gave him the history of the case, but it was too late.

Mr Esson had the thing off within 5 minutes and, reasoning that the beard was grown and maintained under King's Regulations and Orders, put the beard in a brown-paper bag and turned it in to the Regimental Quartermaster Stores as "Military Equipment Withdrawn From Service".

Pipe-Major Esson`s beard, still in its brown-paper bag, occupied a position of honour within RQMS until one of my predecessors threw it away in a fit of squeamishness. (I know who you are, old chummy , and you're not forgiven yet!)

The new custom of the Pipe-Major 1 SHC being bearded was reintroduced by PM CWO Bain, and as of this writing, his successor Pipe-Major Vern Kennedy is growing a beard with the intent of shaving it and presenting it to RQM Stores to replace the missing beard of Ed Esson MBE.

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