100 years later
Hampton man to lead Black Watch pipe band re-enactment in Belgium
At the end of the ‘war to end all wars’ Pipe Major Thomas Johnston led the 42nd Battalion Royal Highlanders of Canada Pipes and Drums through the streets of Mons, Belgium.
It was Nov. 11, 1918. The swirl of those Black Watch kilts and the skirl of those highland pipes are now synonymous with liberation even a century later. In Mons, the Canadian heroes are not forgotten.
The man who will portray Pipe Major Johnston in a re-enactment of that parade into Mons exactly 100 years later said the honour of being asked is indescribable.
Andy Kerr of Hampton, who will lead the resurrected Pipes and Drum of the 42nd at Mons, said the modern day members playing the roles of the real-life soldiers of 1918 are coming from six provinces and three countries with the common goal of honouring those who fought and played bagpipes and drums in The Great War.
Each volunteer member will be wearing an identity disk representing one of the original 42nd Battalion Pipe Band members and will be dressed in period uniform from 1918.
Kerr, a member of the Montreal-based Black Watch for 30 years, sees the Mons liberation as a significant moment among many for the Black Watch in a war that took more than 2,000 of its members but saw a lengthy list of battle honours.
“We often call Vimy Ridge one of our finest moments, as being the only allied regiment with three battalions on Vimy Ridge,” Kerr said, but noted that would be putting aside other very important battles to which the Black Watch lost many men.