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“But Mons as a pin­na­cle time in world his­tory, be­ing the end of the First World War and the of­fi­cial sign­ing of the armistice on 11th of No­vem­ber, 1918, makes our par­tic­i­pa­tion in it even more im­por­tant,” Kerr said. “And the fact that the 42nd Bat­tal­ion is march­ing into Mons, pipe band lead­ing, is go­ing to be ex­tremely sig­nif­i­cant for the par­tic­i­pants. I was very hon­oured to be asked to lead that pipe band. I’ll have many bud­dies from over the years in the band. I’ll have chaps that I’ve never met be­fore in the band that have all vol­un­teered and paid their own way to go to Mons to do this.”

Black Watch

“The Black Watch has al­ways been a fam­ily reg­i­ment. It started in 1862 in Mon­treal, a cos­mopoli­tan, multi- na­tional, mul­ti­lan­guage city,” said Kerr, “and the reg­i­ment al­ways re­flected that pro­file of the city. All lan­guages. All re­li­gions. Even as a Scot­tish reg­i­ment in a French-speak­ing city it re­flected Mon­treal.”

He said mem­bers were from all walks of life from the work­ing dis­tricts of the city.

“Their broth­ers, their un­cles, were all mem­bers and that’s the way it re­mained since the be­gin­ning. We all had rel­a­tives in the Black Watch,” said Kerr. “In my case, ev­ery male rel­a­tive on both sides of the fam­ily, ex­cept for my fa­ther, who de­cided to be a mil­i­tary po­lice­man and a civil­ian po­lice­man. My kid brother, my brother-in-law, my kids as cadets – same reg­i­ment. It’s just be­cause it’s a fam­ily. We call it the Black Watch Fam­ily.”

He said that fam­ily dy­namic was ex­tremely im­por­tant.

“That makes you co­he­sive as a reg­i­ment, makes you co­he­sive as troops, and you’d do any­thing for the reg­i­ment,” he said. “In wartime, that made that reg­i­ment – and oth­ers that fol­low sim­i­lar tra­di­tions – very suc­cess­ful, be­cause you were fight­ing for your coun­try, of course, but also for your buddy, and your un­cle, and your cousin down the street. Be­cause they were all there at the same time, and that’s how it stayed strong and how it re­mains strong to this day.”


“In the first war, the Ger­mans nick­named the Black Watch the Ladies from Hell be­cause they wore kilts -- came at them play­ing bag­pipes and wear­ing kilts,” Kerr said. “They didn’t know what was com­ing. They nick­named us at that point the Ladies from Hell. And that stuck.”

The 42nd Bat­tal­ion Pipes & Drums will also be par­tic­i­pat­ing in the Menin Gate cer­e­mony in Ypres, Bel­gium as well as at­tend­ing the Vimy Ridge Memo­rial in France, but Kerr said the crown­ing glory will be re-en­ter­ing Mons as it did 100 years ago, as the first group into the pub­lic square af­ter the sign­ing of the Armistice in 1918.

“We’re field­ing vol­un­teer pipers and drum­mers from across the coun­try, as well as one from Ore- gon and one from Eng­land, who also have ties to the orig­i­nal World War One play­ers,” Kerr said.

Kerr is also mak­ing the Black Watch tour mean­ing­ful to some Cana­dian school chil­dren.

“I’ll be tak­ing over mas­cots from both An­napo­lis East El­e­men­tary School and Bridgetown Re­gional Com­mu­nity School and will give them both photo cov­er­age as we move around the re­gion,” he said.


The ma­jor­ity of the pipe band leaves from Mon­treal on Nov. 6.

Mem­bers of the serv­ing modern day Reg­i­men­tal Pipe Band of The Black Watch (Royal High­land Reg­i­ment) of Canada will also be par­tic­i­pat­ing in events in Eu­rope as part of the Cana­dian Forces Pipe Band, which will take part in ‘The Pa­rade of Lib­er­a­tion’ on Nov. 11.

In ad­di­tion to the 42nd Bat- tal­ion Pipes & Drums, a Black Watch Bat­tle­field Tour is also be­ing con­ducted, which has many for­mer mem­bers of the reg­i­ment at­tend­ing as well as rel­a­tives of mem­bers who fought and died in the First World War.

They are keep­ing a run­ning blog of the ex­pe­di­tion at this web site and en­cour­age peo­ple to fol­low:



Andy Kerr of Hamp­ton works on his pipes be­fore he heads to Eu­rope to take part in the cen­te­nary ser­vices mark­ing the end of the First World War. Kerr will por­tray real-life Pipe Ma­jor Thomas John­ston who led the 42nd Bat­tal­ion Royal High­landers of Canada Pipes and Drums through the streets of Mons, Bel­gium on Nov. 11, 1918. Kerr, a 30-year mem­ber of the Black Watch, will lead a modern day ver­sion of the pipes and drums through Mons ex­actly 100 years later.

The First World War 42nd Bat­tal­ion Royal High­landers of Canada Pipes and Drums marched into Mons, Bel­gium as the first group af­ter the Armistice was signed on Nov. 11, 1918. The pipe band has been res­ur­rected with modern day Black Watch mem­bers por­tray­ing their war-era com­rades.

Andy Kerr will lead a res­ur­rected ver­sion of the First World War 42nd Bat­tal­ion Royal High­landers of Canada Pipes and Drums through the streets of Mons, Bel­gium Nov. 11. That orig­i­nal pipe band was the first group into the pub­lic square af­ter the sign­ing of the Armistice in 1918.

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