25 September 2005

At a low-key ceremony held at the Loos Museum, Belgium, and on the 90th Anniversary of Daniel Laidlaw's VC action, his grandson Victor Laidlaw donated his grandfather's Victoria Cross and other campaign medals to Scotland's National War Museum based in Edinburgh Castle.

( select to enlarge )
Medal entitlement of Sergeant Piper Daniel Laidlaw,
7th Bn, King's Own Scottish Borderers

  • Victoria Cross
  • 1914-15 Star
  • British War Medal ( 1914-20 )
  • Victory Medal ( 1914-19 ) + MiD Oakleaf
  • Defence Medal ( 1939-45 )
  • King George VI Coronation Medal ( 1937 )
  • Croix de Guerre ( France )

Speaking ahead of the ceremony, Victor Laidlaw said "My late father, also a piper, represented my grandfather for many years at official functions, like the Centenary celebrations of the award of the Victoria Cross in 1956." Laidlaw said his father was adamant the VC should eventually go on display and not be kept in a bank vault. Unfortunately, Daniel Laidlaw's old regiment, the King's Own Scottish Borderers, could not accept and display the VC owing to insurance and security problems. Instead, an arrangement has been made to donate the VC group - one of only eleven VCs gifted to the nation - to the National War Museum in Edinburgh.

Born in 1875 in Little Swinton, Berwickshire, Daniel Laidlaw joined the 2nd Battalion, Durham Light Infantry on 11 April 1896 where he was immediately posted to India where he stayed for two years until June 1898. Whilst there he was employed on plague duty in Bombay from March to May 1898. After returning to Britain he was claimed out of the DLI by his eldest brother and served in the King's Own Scottish Borderers as a piper until April 1912, when he was placed on the reserve.

Upon the outbreak of war in Europe, Daniel Laidlaw re-enlisted in the KOSB on 1 September 1914 and went to France with the regiment the following June. In his own words he describes his action that resulted in him being awarded the Victoria Cross.

On Saturday morning we got orders to raid the German trenches. At 6.30 the bugles sounded the advance and I got over the parapet with Lieutenant Young. I at once got the pipes going and the laddies gave a cheer as they started off for the enemy's lines. As soon as they showed themselves over the trench top they began to fall fast, but they never wavered, but dashed straight on as I played the old air they all knew 'Blue Bonnets over the Border'.

I ran forward with them piping for all I knew, and just as we were getting near the German lines I was wounded by shrapnel in the left ankle and leg. I was too excited to feel the pain just then, but scrambled along as best I could. I changed my tune to 'The Standard on the Braes o'Mar', a grand tune for charging on.

I kept on piping and piping and hobbling after the laddies until I could go no farther, and then seeing that the boys had won the position I began to get back as best I could to our own trenches.

[ London Gazette, 18 November 1915 ], Loos, France, 25 September 1915, No. 15851 Piper Daniel Laidlaw, 7th Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers.

"For most conspicuous bravery prior to an assault on German trenches near Loos and Hill 70 on 25 September 1915. During the worst of the bombardment, Piper Laidlaw, seeing that his company was badly shaken from the effects of gas, with absolute coolness and disregard of danger, mounted the parapet, marched up and down and played company out of the trench. The effect of his splendid example was immediate and the company dashed out to the assault. Piper Laidlaw continued playing his pipes until he was wounded."

Daniel Laidlaw was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 3rd February 1916.

Daniel Laidlaw was promoted sergeant-piper on 12 October 1917, and was eventually demobilised on 3 April 1919; total service 20 years, 6 months. He died peacefully in 1950, aged 74, in Shoresedean, near Norham, Northumberland, and was buried in an unmarked grave in St. Cuthbert's Churchyrd. There is a memorial plaque within the church.

A ceremony took place at St. Cuthbert's Churchyard, Norham, Northumberland, on 2nd June 2002 to place a headstone over the grave of Piper Daniel Laidlaw VC - "The Piper of Loos". The project was organised by the King's Own Scottish Borderer's Museum in Berwick-on-Tweed and by members of the Laidlaw family.


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Iain Stewart, 25 September 2005