PIPES AT PARKHURST

Posted by Admin on Monday, 25th July 2011, 11:32

I was reminded of such appropriate conditions obtained in the Twenties by the sight of the postage stamps commemorating Robert Burns, which triggered the memory of when the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders were stationed at Albany barracks (they came to the Isle of Wight in 1923) and of a fine Saturday afternoon when I was cycling from Northwood to Newport.

Attracted by the sound of bagpipes, I went to investigate and found a sports meeting in progress. Having time on my hands, I decided to go and watch. The passage of eighty-odd years has blurred my recollection of most of the events, but it has not erased the memory of the Highland dancing. Earlier that decade I had seen on Southsea Common the wild and exciting performances of Russian Cossacks, but Scottish dancing with its precisely placed and pointed toes, its balletic arm positions, and the fluid movement of kilts was new to me.

On another occasion I was leaving Newport when a part of the Regiment, led by the band with the drummers in their leopard-skin aprons, came marching in. During the 1914-1918 War, my home being near Newport Road, I had seen a number of battalions en-route to the Cowes to Southampton ferry, but never before had I witnessed such a magnificent and, for a teenager, rather awe-inspiring spectacle as that presented by those picturesque Scotsmen.

With the above glimpses of the past I recalled, also, a case of medals hanging beneath a photograph of a cousin’s brother-in-law – the portrait of Regimental Sergeant Major Archie McDine (one of the sons of a former landlord of the Woodman’s Arms, situated in Station Road, Wootton) who, during Hitler’s war, went with the Black Watch to fight in the Far East and never returned.

Even more recently a friend who at the time lived near the Albany Barracks told me the regiment’s bandmaster was the man whose name was often mentioned on the radio when he became Lieutenant-Colonel Ricketts of the Royal Marines – the man famous for the marches he composed (including Colonel Bogey and The Thin Red Line) under the pseudonym Kenneth Alford.

T. C. Hudson

© T. C. Hudson.
This article may not be reproduced without prior permission of the author.

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