United Pipers for Peace: 400 Pipers and Drummers converge on the Northern French city of Amiens in the name of Peace
In 2018, after the huge success of the 2016’s first edition of United Pipers for Peace, commemorating the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the decision was taken to stage an even bigger, bolder event to mark the centenary of the end of the War to end all Wars. On the 7th and 8th of July 2018, some twenty pipe bands from a variety of European countries paraded through the streets of Amiens for “1918-2018 United Pipers for Peace”, a veritable musical and commemorative gathering, in remembrance of the pipers who steeled the troops for battle during the Great War.
Pipers of the Great War
Despite the war and the deafening horrors of the bombardments, music was no stranger to the trenches and the rear lines. The Scottish regiments were often accompanied by pipers to embolden the men as they went “over the top”, only then to return into no man’s land as stretcher bearers to recover and take care of the wounded.
One of them, 40-year old Scots piper Daniel Laidlaw, hailing from Berwickshire, defied the German troops during the battle of Loos. On 25th September 1915, Laidlaw filled his lungs and pressed firmly onto the bag of his pipes, then promptly led his comrades of the 2nd Scots Battalion from the front. Marching towards the enemy, armed with nothing more than his musical instrument symbolising his patriotism and the cultural values of his homeland. His brothers in arms were astonished by his bravery which they saw as a genuinely heroic action. Despite being wounded in the leg, Daniel Laidlaw carried on playing throughout the battle of Loos. He was awarded the British and Commonwealth Army’s highest military decoration, the Victoria Cross, for his act of valour and a statue was built in his honour in the town of Longueval in the Somme region of France, celebrating the courage of all the Pipers of the Great War.
On Saturday 7th July, the heart of the city was throbbing with a throng of pipe band performances at strategic and popular points throughout the old Roman town of Samarobriva (literally The Bridge over the River Somme). Passers-by, visitors and tourists were enchanted by such memorable pipe tunes as “Amazing Grace”, a hymn to harmony and entente, or marches such as “The Battle of the Somme” or “Scotland the Brave”.
Later in the day, at 6 pm, all 400 pipers and drummers performed together in a massed band on the courtyard of the magnificent Notre Dame cathedral of Amiens. This was one of the highlights of this commemorative, yet festive weekend organised by Amiens’ very own “Samarobriva Pipes and Drums”, a 35-strong ensemble of pipers and drummers with a shared passion for the pipes and drums, and a very real dedication to remembrance of the ordinary soldiers of all nationalities who came to France to fight for freedom, many of them never to see their homelands ever again.
On Sunday 8th July, beginning at 2 pm, the hordes of musicians paraded through the streets of the city, marching from Tour Perret to the Cathedral Square; a commemorative and yet entertaining way of repeating the call “Lest we forget”, in tribute to the wounded and fallen of the First World War.
Throughout the weekend, the Bishop’s gardens, behind the cathedral, played host to the Partners’ Village, where the general public had the opportunity to mingle and exchange with pipers and drummers of all nationalities.
Moving further afield
Emboldened by the success of the first two editions, United Pipers for Peace began to venture beyond its home city of Amiens. In August 2019, Beauvais played host to United Pipers for Peace as part of the city’s official commemoration of its Liberation by British troops and the French Resistance.
During a morning of commemoration, a parade led by The Samarobriva Pipes and Drums from Amiens, France, the Weilerswist and District Pipe Band from Weilerswist, Germany and The Fianna Phádraig Pipe Band from Manchester, UK, took dignitaries and citizens alike from one historical point to another, with a wreath laying ceremony attended by French officials, representatives of Beauvais’ twin town
of Maidenhead and the three pipe bands, from both sides of the battlefield, standing together in peace as brothers and sisters.
The afternoon was one of festive celebration. After all, what better to celebrate than Peace?
The pipe bands performed at various spots around the city, only to finish off the day with a joint performance in front of Beauvais town hall and a march-past through the town hall fountains, much to the delight of the crowd who had come along to cheer on and appreciate the bands.
Manchester, a fitting host city for United Pipers for Peace
We are delighted to announce that “United Pipers for Peace” will make its first foray outside French territory to come to Manchester, the home city of the Fianna Phádraig Pipe Band.
“United Pipers for Peace Manchester 2022” will symbolise friendship between peoples, peace between nations, men and women of all nationalities standing together, crying out one word loud and clear, in total unison: PEACE.
United Pipers for Peace Manchester 2022 will comprise several hundred pipers and drummers, from all over the world.