Here the Pipes Will Lay Beside Me

Piper John MacLeod. Great War veteran with the 67th Battalion (Western Scots) and 102nd (North British Columbians). (P. Ferguson image, May 2018)

Piper John MacLeod.
Great War veteran with the 67th Battalion (Western Scots) and 102nd (North British Columbians).
(P. Ferguson image, May 2018)

Someday Here We Will Meet Again

…a while ago

I have stood here many times, brought others to you and wondered who you are…and yet for all the time that has passed – today you have spoken. Who are you Piper John MacLeod?

…this day

I have walked this place of memory since the late 1970s, read and re-read markers, family messages lettered upon the stones that rise here or lay upon the surface. I have watched the deer, squirrels, families and passers-by visit Ross Bay where the friends and family of old Victoria and not so old Victoria rest. Some names are better known while others wait for some wanderer to find interest. Amongst the war graves 103327 Piper John MacLeod – your memory will be ever green in Ballalan, Lewis.

Allan’s village – Ballalan is to be found on the east coast of the Outer Hebrides, Isle of Lewis, Scotland situated at the head of Loch Erisort. A near famous neighbour and near to the opposite coast, Camas Uig is about 49 minutes away – a distance of 34 miles. It is here, in the Bay, that the 12th-Century Lewis chess pieces were found in 1821.


The King Edward Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia was established in 1901 on Yates Street. At that time Victoria was becoming a popular tourist destination and the 98-room hotel, 48 with attached baths, was frequented by travelling businessmen. Of special note was a 78-seat dining room where John MacLeod worked as a cook, waiter and steward. Other King Edward Hotel staff who served in the Great War were Second Boer War veteran Sergeant Harry Hardy (16th Battalion CEF), door-keeper and commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, (Ypres), Belgium and night clerk James C. Hanna (7th Battalion CEF).

King Edward Hotel

The former King Edward Hotel where John MacLeod worked. Yates Street, Victoria, B.C.
(P. Ferguson image June 2018)


Prior to the Great War John MacLeod served with the 7th Scottish and with the 50th Regiment (Gordon Highlanders). Joining the 67th Battalion John served with the unit in France and Flanders, organized as a pioneer battalion trained in infantry tactics, engineering and construction as part of the Fourth Canadian Infantry Division. John’s 67th service, on the Western Front, commenced 13 August 1916 but in May 1917, his unit was absorbed by other units in the Canadian Corps and John became one of 260 other ranks from the 67th drafted to the 102nd Battalion CEF (North British Columbians). The 102nd’s commanding officer, John Weightman Warden DSO, was especially keen to have a  regimental pipe band and led by Pipe Major “Billy” Wishart, the 67th Pipe Band, albeit for a short while, became the pipe band of Warden’s 102nd.


In late December at Lens, France, John MacLeod became ill with Albuminuria, first diagnosed at #42 Casualty Clearing Station and he was subsequently sent to Etaples, France, and the King’s Canadian Red Cross Hospital at Bushey Park, Hampton Hill, Middlesex, England. At Bushey Park John was further diagnosed with acute Nephritis and he subsequently returned to British Columbia where he was cared for at the Victoria Military Hospital, Esquimalt and probably at the Resthaven Hospital, Sidney. On 28 August 1918 John MacLeod was discharged from the Canadian Expeditionary Force as medically unfit for further service. Though mentioned in some early wartime medical reports, John MacLeod also suffered from arteriosclerosis reported as having originated prior to enlistment in a 20 April 1918 medical report.

Victoria's War Memorial and the Empress Hotel with its Canadian flag at half-mast. (P. Ferguson image November 11, 2015)

Victoria’s War Memorial and the Empress Hotel with its Canadian flag at half-mast.
(P. Ferguson image November 11, 2015)

 N.18E T.

On 8 February 1919 John MacLeod, aged 40 years, left us.

John had previously returned to work at the Empress Hotel located on the inner harbour, Victoria, where each 11 November morning the hotel’s Canadian flag, one of several in the city, flies at half-mast. After John’s prolonged illness, due to exposure and hardship attributed to the fighting at Passchendaele, John MacLeod was laid to rest at the Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, British Columbia. John’s draped casket was carried to the cemetery upon a gun carriage with Privates Stead Trickett (67th Battalion), C. Haggerty, Hugh McColl Henderson (67th Battalion), J. Robinson, J. Grant, Henry Clear (29th Battalion) as pallbearers. Pipe Major Billy Wishart, of the 67th (Western Scots) and the 102nd (North British Columbians) formed a pipe band to play at John MacLeod’s service. At the graveside three volleys were fired and a bugler played the last post…someday we will meet again, I’ll return to leave you never, Be a piper to the end.

Piper John MacLeod. From Loyal Lewis Roll of Honour (1914 and After). Stornoway, 1920.

Piper John MacLeod.
From Loyal Lewis Roll of Honour (1914 and After). Stornoway, 1920. The publication has included an incorrect date of death.
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About The Author

Paul has worked with the Paradigm Motion Picture Company since 2009 as producer, historian and research specialist. Paul first met Casey and Ian WIlliams of Paradigm in April 2007 at Ieper (Ypres), Belgium when ceremonies were being held for the re-dedication of the Vimy Memorial, France. Paul's sensitivity to film was developed at an early age seeing his first films at RCAF Zweibrucken, Germany and in Sardinia. Paul returned to Canada in 1967 and was further amazed by David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Bridge on the River Kwai". Film captivated Paul and with time he became increasingly interested in storytelling, content development, character, direction, cinematography and soundtracks. At the University of Victoria, Paul studied and compared Japanese and Australian film and became interested in Australian film maker Peter Weir and his film "Gallipoli" (1981). Paul was entranced when he learned Weir had visited the beaches, ridges and ravines of the peninsula. The film "Gallipoli" alone led Paul on many journeys to sites of conflict in England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Malta, Hawaii, Gallipoli and Salonika. It was, however, when Paul watched documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, "The Civil War", that Paul understood how his own experience and insight could be effective and perhaps influential in film-making. Combining his knowledge of Museums and Archives, exhibitions and idea strategies with his film interests would be a natural progression. Paul thinks like a film-maker. His passion for history and storytelling brings to Paradigm an eye (and ear) to the keen and sensitive interests of; content development, the understanding of successful and relational use of collections, imagery and voice. Like Paul's favorite actor, Peter O'Toole, he believes in the adage “To deepen not broaden.” While on this path Paul always remembers his grandmother whose father did not return from the Great War and how his loss shaped her life and how her experience continues to guide him.


One Response to “Here the Pipes Will Lay Beside Me”

  1. pferguson pferguson says:

    For all Pipers

    John MacLeod’s parents are recorded with the Commonwealth War Graves as Marion MacLeod and the late Donald MacLeod.

    Title, sub-heading and final quote from the lyrics of Mark Knopfler’s Piper to the End. The words were penned by Mr. Knopfler in tribute to his Uncle Freddie Laidler, a piper with the 1st Battalion Tyneside Scottish, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders). Lance Corporal Freddie Laidler was killed at Ficheux, France 20 May 1940.

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