February 2019
« Jan    

Essex Scottish Pipe Major

Posted By on January 29, 2019

Pipe Major Jock Copland, Essex Scottish Regiment. Created a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1946.

Pipe Major Jock Copland, Essex Scottish Regiment.
(Image from The War Illustrated, August 16, 1940)

“Jock” Copland – Always Ready

A return to the stacks at the University of Victoria Library provided a hidden gem amongst familiar pages that, this day, I turn a little slower finding clues within the pictorial offerings. This one image here – records the familiar collar badges of a Canadian regiment – The Essex Scottish Regiment, and a name Jock Copeland [sic].

Apart from the collar insignia the bass drum provides a clue with its painted image of the unit’s cap insignia. The image detail is slight but there is enough to affirm a day in the life of this Scottish regiment from Canada. So what was this day and who was Jock Copland (correct spelling) that brought Canada to the front cover of The War Illustrated in 1940?

John “Jock” Copland was born in Shettleston, Lanarkshire, Scotland 27 January 1880 and previously served for seven years as a piper with a unit of the Royal Engineers (Territorials). In 1911 Copland immigrated arriving in Galt, Ontario and worked as a mechanic. In his spare hours Copland founded a pipe band that became the pipe band of another Canadian Regiment, the Highland Light Infantry.

During the Great War Copland joined the 241st Battalion CEF (The Canadian Scottish Borderers). With the 241st Battalion CEF, based at Windsor, Ontario, Copland was asked to form a pipe band and went overseas with them but was unable to join them on the Western Front being found medically unfit for service.

Returning to Canada, Copland and later returning pipers of the 241st formed the Border Cities Pipe Band which, in 1927, formed the nucleus of the Essex Scottish Pipe Band. Copland taught several aspiring pipers to play and his son James later became Pipe Sergeant of the regiment, and a second son, Robert, their Drum Major.

During the Second World War Jock Copland, aged 60, lied about his age and proceeded overseas with the Essex Scottish. Upon the regiment’s arrival in Aldershot, England, 3 August 1940 the British newspapers, having learned of the arrival of the Second Canadian Infantry Division, appeared in the historic military town. It is on this day that The War Illustrated image of Pipe Major Jock Copland was taken.

Like his regiment’s motto Semper Paratus (Always Ready) Jock was always ready to serve. However, though on a very active British home front during the Battle of Britain, once again Jock’s chance to serve in a theatre of war on continental Europe would be denied. Being 15 years over the age for active service, Jock was returned to Canada, whereupon he became Pipe Major for the 2nd Battalion Essex Scottish of the Canadian Reserve.

With over twenty-five years service in the Essex Scottish Regiment (1929 – 1958) Copland’s devotion was recognized in 1946 when he was created a Member of the Order of the British Empire (Civil Division).

Jock Copland of the Essex Scottish Regiment passed away 29 April 1966.

And Danced the Skies

Posted By on December 29, 2018

High Flight poem by John Gillespie Magee Jr.

Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth.
The sky above Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
(P. Ferguson image, July 2006)

High Flight

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds, –and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of –Wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air…
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Poem by John Gillespie Magee Jr.


Such words these are – of sun-split clouds and tumbling mirth, laughter-silvered wings – the shouting wind along.

But this day, as rain pelts down and into my being I seek a horizon blue with its drifting clouds of design white…reshaping across this globe before my eyes. I have lingered skyward towards these halls of air from Kamloops to Malta to Hawaii too…and the sky places in between. As water tramples my ground, I find my time… to reach skyward towards the mosaic, push clouds aside and find the blue amongst God’s heaven. Always finding – always thinking with silent lifting mind.

That Rich Earth a Richer Dust

Posted By on December 28, 2018

Valley Cemetery, France.

In that rich earth a richer dust concealed.
On the way to Valley Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.
(P. Ferguson image, September 2010)

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

Poem by Rupert Brooke


Time and time again I return to these words…In that rich earth….a richer dust concealed…and time and time again these few, these lone few words remain with me a day or more. Is it for Richards or Stevens, Smith or Talbot, Hoskins or Thompson…its for them all. Either England…or Scotland, Ireland or Wales. Australia, New Zealand, India, Canada and others. French, Belgian, American, Austrian, German. Across the fields we see them all, across the towns…names and sorrow here within the ground…a tide of humanity reaching ever skyward under an Earthen heaven.

This Tide and Every Tide

Posted By on December 26, 2018

A distant sun, cold water...Because he was the son you bore, And gave to that wind blowing and that tide! (P. Ferguson image, December 2018)

A distant sun, cold water…Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!
(P. Ferguson image, December 2018)

My Boy Jack

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

Poem by Rudyard Kipling.


This evening I look to the words of another. A walk along the shoreline brings with each surge the crash of low falling waves. A gentle thunder – its repeated motion lashing at the sand taking some for itself until it returns its tumult, grain upon grain. The tide…the tide…deep blue with its tumult of souls within the sliding sands of time. With gentle motion I turn towards home. There are words for this day, a mixture of one with another, water and earth.

A Little Bit of Peace From Home

Posted By on December 25, 2018

Christmas at the Front - Unpacking the Parcels from Home.

Christmas at the Front – Unpacking the Parcels from Home by Fortunino Matania.
(Illustration from The Sphere, 5 January 1919)

Christmas Parcels

The joy delivered to soldiers at the front…a little bit of peace from home. Gathered together they made the most of their day. A little welcome celebration…pooling their newly delivered resources…Tommy, Billy, Robert, James, Jeremy and others…Merry Christmas to all.

Across British Columbia news of parcels and soldiers made their way into the columns across the province.

The Hedley Gazette
Hedley, B.C.
2 December 1915, p. 1

Packing Parcels for
Soldiers at the Front

The public is urged to exercise every care in packing parcels for the troops, as careful packing is absolutely essential to ensure delivery of the parcels in good order.

Parcels sent abroad require a higher standard of packing than is necessary in the Canadian Parcel Post, and this applies with even greater force to parcels for the troops. Those which are immediately packed run great risk of damage or loss of contents.

Thin cardboard boxes, such as shoe boxes and thin wooden boxes, should not be used: nor does a single sheet of ordinary brown paper afford sufficient protection. The following forms of packing are recommended.

(1) Strong double cardboard boxes, preferably those made of corrugated cardboard, and having  lids which completely enclose the sides of the boxes.

(2) Strong wooden boxes.

(3) Several folds of stout packing paper.

(4) Additional security is afforded by an outer covering of linen, calico or canvas, which should be securely sewn up.

The address of parcels should be written in ink on the cover preferably in two places.

The address of the sender of the parcel should also be stated in order that it may be returned if undeliverable. The contents of the parcel should be stated in writing on the cover.


The Prospector
Lillooet, B.C.
24 December 1915, p. 1

The Postmaster General of Canada has been successful, as a result of negotiations entered into with the Imperial Postal Authorities in effecting an arrangement with the British Government whereby parcels from Canada for Canadian soldiers in France and Flanders will be carried at the same rate of postage as applies to parcels from the United Kingdom for the Expeditionary Forces on the Continent.

The public are reminded, however, in accordance with the circular issued by the Department recently, that until further notice, no parcel can be sent weighing over seven pounds.


The Omineca Miner
Hazelton, B.C.
25 November 1916, p. 1

People of Hazelton Send Xmas
Cheer to the Boys in
the Trenches

Christmas parcels to the number of 112 have been sent to Hazelton’s boys in khaki by the Soldier’s Aid, and so far as known, no soldier from the town or vicinity has been overlooked. The committee’s campaign for the Christmas fund is proving successful…

On behalf of our soldiers, the committee extends hearty thanks to the ladies and gentlemen who assisted in the preparation and mailing of parcels, as well as to contributors to the Christmas fund.


The Enderby Press
Enderby, B.C.
25 January 1917, p. 1

How Trench Comforts Contributed
to Happiness of Boys at Front

The ladies of the Enderby Trench Comfort Club are in receipt of the following letters from the boys at the front.

Pte. Victor E. Bogert…”I received your parcel on the 16th December and found everything to be useful, especially the socks and sleeping helmet, and the shoe lace was the very thing I wanted as I had broken one that very day; and the Oxo* was very handy for a cold I have got…I found it appetizing as a beverage and socks were certainly warm, and the handkerchief certainly was a good friend to my nose, and the cigarettes and sweets were very useful as they are scarce in France, and the cakes were a good evening’s enjoyment among the boys of my own billet…”

Lce. Corp. S.H. Allcorn: “Allow me to thank you and the many good friends and contributors for parcel received on the 26th December, which came as a very pleasant surprise and was very much appreciated…It reminded me of good old Enderby…”

Pte. T.M. Dunwoodie: “I am writing to thank you all for the parcel which I received last night. It certainly was a fine one and the cigarettes, tobacco and socks were especially welcome as I just out of the first and home-knit socks are always welcome. The cake and candy and other good things were too good to last long. The other boys in the hut all send their thanks to you and the others who helped to make it up…”

*Oxo was a beef stock cube originally produced in cube form in 1910. During the Great War more than 100,000,000 Oxo cubes were provided to the military.


Bella Coola Courier
Bella Coola, B.C.
10 March 1917, p. 1

Christmas at the Front

The slight sacrifices made by the ladies [W.C.T.U.**] of the valley in sending Christmas parcels to the front has met with such a chorus of thanks from our boys that we know our readers will enjoy the reading of the extracts from their letters…

Only a few lines to let you know that I received the welcome parcel of cake and chocolate on Christmas night. I had given up hope of getting anything that evening when along comes the boys through the trench asking for Sam Grant…I handed it around to some of the boys – Arthur Gothard, Pete Marren, Randolph Saugstad and those that I saw the next day. (Sam Grant)

**Woman’s Christian Temperance Union


 The Islander
Cumberland, B.C.
20 October 1917, p. 1

All those who are sending parcels to soldiers in France should send them immediately if they wish them to arrive by Christmas. Parcels for soldiers in England can be posted up till about 10th of November for delivery by Christmas.


Cranbrook Herald
Cranbrook, B.C.
10 January 1918, p. 3


Pte. W.H. Lewis, No. 931443
“D” Coy., 14th Platoon,
2nd C.M.R.

To Mrs. J.W. Burton, President W.I.***

Dear Madam: – I beg to acknowledge with deepest gratitude the Christmas parcel received by me from our friends in Cranbrook.

You cannot imagine what happiness it creates to have handed to us letters and parcels from those at home. Some poor fellows seem to be overlooked entirely, but I am pleased to say is not my luck.

Again thanking you and your society.

I beg to remain, Madam,
Yours gratefully,
W.H. Lewis

***Women’s Institute