Piper, Daniel Laidlaw VC (1875 - 1950)
The Musicians' Company Archive Project

Sergeant-Piper Daniel Logan Laidlaw, VC, The King's Own Scottish Borderers, was born near Berwick-upon-Tweed on 26 July 1875. He was the son of Robert and Margaret Laidlaw. His siblings were William, Isabella, Alice, Mary, James, George and Margaret. He was educated at Berwick-upon-Tweed and Lesbury, Northumberland, where he was employed as a Miller's Apprentice. On 11 April 1906 he married Georgina Mary Harvie and had three sons (Andrew, John, and Victor) and three daughters (Margaret, Georgina, and May).

He joined the Army in 1896, served with the Durham Light Infantry in India. In 1898 he transferred as a Piper to the 7th Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers. After a period in the Reserves, he re-enlisted and went to France in June 1915 He was 40 years old when the following deed took place - for which he was awarded the VC.

The citation read:

"On 25 September 1915 during the Battle of Loos at Hill 70, prior to an assault on enemy trenches and during the worst of the bombardment, Piper Laidlaw, seeing that his company was shaken with the effects of gas, with complete disregard for danger, mounted the parapet and, marching up and down, played his company out of the trench. The effect of his splendid example was immediate and the company dashed to the assault. Piper Laidlaw continued playing his pipes even after he was wounded and until the position was won." 

The Musicians' Company Archive Project
The Musicians' Company Archive Project

At 6.30 am, on the first morning of the Battle of Loos, his battalion was stalled in the trenches after heavy artillery fire from the German guns. As gas wafted back from British cylinders, Lieutenant Young cried out ‘For God's sake, Laidlaw, pipe them together!’ Laidlaw scaled the parapets and marched up and down, playing the regimental march, ‘Blue Bonnets over the Border’. Suitably inspired, the battalion dashed out of the trenches and Laidlaw followed. Wounded by shrapnel in the left ankle and leg, he hobbled onwards and was promoted Corporal for this distinguished service in the field.

George V decorated Laidlaw with the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace on 3rd February 1916. Shortly afterwards, on 28th February, he received the Musicians' Company's Gold Watch, presented to him by the Lord Mayor at Mansion House (see below). Promoted Sergeant Piper on 12th October 1917, he was demobilized on 3 April 1919.

The rear of Laidlaw's actual VC with his name and date of action, is shown in the photo (right); grateful thanks to great grandson, Mr Kevin Laidlaw for providing this picture.

The Musicians' Company Archive Project

Click above, to see an extraordinary piece of video footage as Piper, Daniel Laidlaw VC, discusses his action and then plays the pipes as he did on the day of 25th September 1915 during the Battle of Loos, which earned Laidlaw the now famous title of "The Piper of Loos". The film is taken from the 1934 production "Forgotten Men", the interviewer is Sir John Hammerton.

The Musicians' Company Archive Project

Image Left - From the Glasgow Daily Record of 1st March 1916. Caption reads:

 

At the London Mansion House the Musicians’ Company gave an entertainment to wounded soldiers. During the entertainment a Gold Watch was presented by the Lord Mayor on behalf of the Company to Piper Daniel Laidlaw VC (Kings Own Scottish Borderers).

 

The Master Musician at the time was Charles Lukey Collard and he is on the left of the picture. The Lord Mayor (Sir Charles Wakefield) does appear to be holding something that could in fact be Laidlaw's Gold Watch.

Click on the image for a closer view.

The Press Cuttings presented below are reporting the same event. They are taken from a Scrapbook of Cuttings (held by The Company in the Guildhall Library) mostly concerning the use of Military Bands during the First War and their role in Recruitment. Click Here for more information.

The Musicians' Company Archive Project
The Musicians' Company Archive Project
The Musicians' Company Archive Project
The Musicians' Company Archive Project
The Musicians' Company Archive Project
The Musicians' Company Archive Project

The Victoria Cross and Campaign Medals (shown below) awarded to Daniel Laidlaw VC of the 7th Bn King's Own Scottish Borderers and worn by him in the photo left, have since been donated to the National War Museum in Edinburgh Castle. Click on the medal image for much more information.

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Laidlaw died in 1950, aged 74, in Shoresedean, near Norham, Northumberland, and was buried in an unmarked grave in St. Cuthbert's Churchyard, Norham, Northumberland. There is a memorial plaque within the church.

A ceremony took place on 2nd June 2002 to place a headstone over the grave. The project was organised by the King's Own Scottish Borderer's Museum in Berwick-on-Tweed and by members of the Laidlaw family.

The Musicians' Company Archive Project

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