Pipers in Captivity

| March 28, 2011

Accompanied by a French Division, the 51st Highland Division was sent to fight a rearguard action ensuring the safe retreat of the British and French forces at Dunkirk. The 51st Highlanders found themselves face to face with Rommel’s 7th Panzer Division. Their retreat was cut off, and they were forced to the coastal town of St. Valery-en-Caux where they hoped they would be rescued just like the troops at Dunkirk. The rescue never came. Greatly outnumbered and relentlessly bombarded by Rommel’s artillery and tanks, the 51st Highland Division surrendered on June 12, 1940. At least 8,000 members of the Division were kept in German prison camps for five years until the end of the war.

The Heroism of Piper A. McDonald

| March 20, 2011

During and immediately after the Great War there were many popular publications designed to keep the home front informed. In retrospect many might not consider them fair and balanced in their reporting, and that would be true. The purpose of these publication was to boost national morale and highlight the valour of it men on the front lines. Often artist were commissioned to illustrate an action for which no photographs could be found. In an age where combat photography was in its infancy artists were steadily employed. In this image, John F. Campbell captures the gallant action of two pipers leading their company into the fray. Piper McDonald was awarded the D.C.M. for “conspicuous gallantry” for leading the men across two lines of enemy trenches. At the third line his companion piper was shot and killed. That moment depicted by the artist captures the life and death actions of warrior pipers in battle. These images have a worth beyond that of a still archival photograph. They capture the glory and emotion in a way that a stark black and white grainy image from that era never could.