Bagpipes carried over the top by Scottish piper at the Battle of the Somme before he was gunned down by the Germans come to light more than 100 years on
- Poignant memento thought to have belonged to Private William Alexander Scott
- His job was to provide much-needed morale to fellow soldiers on the battlefield
- The recovered pipes stayed in his family before being sold to a private collector
- They will be auctioned online tomorrow, and have an estimate price of £800
A set of bagpipes recovered from the body of a hero piper gunned down at the Battle of the Somme has come to light more than 100 years later.
The poignant memento is believed to have belonged to Private William Alexander Scott who went ‘over the top’ on July 1, 1916 armed only with his musical instrument.
His job was to provide morale to his fellow soldiers of the 21st Battalion Tyneside Scottish, Northumberland Fusiliers.
The poignant memento, pictured, is believed to have belonged to Private William Alexander Scott who went ‘over the top’ on July 1, 1916 armed only with his musical instrument
The young piper made it all the way to the German front line before he was shot and killed still carrying his pipes on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
The traditional Scottish instrument was later recovered from the battlefield and returned to Pte Scott’s family.
His family always believed the pipes were passed down to Pte Scott by his father Alexander Scott, who was also a piper in the same regiment at the turn of the century.
They remained in the Scott family until they were recently sold to a private collector of militaria.
They have now been consigned for sale with auctioneers Lockdales of Ipswich, Suffolk.
Private William Alexander Scott, pictured left, died on July 1st, 1916 – the first day of the Battle of the Somme. His pipes, passed down to him by his father, Alexander Scott, pictured right, were recovered from the battlefield and returned to the family
The pipes are in a worn condition and come in a contemporary leather case.
There is also some research documents including a newspaper cutting which states how Pte Scott died leading his fellow soldiers into action unarmed.
He was in one of four ‘Pals Battalions’ from Newcastle which attacked at 7.30am in roughly the centre of the British line opposite the fortified village of La Boisselle.
It is reported that Pte Scott made it to the German trench where he was killed, still holding his pipes.
The Tyneside Scottish suffered the worst losses of any brigade on that day, losing between 2,288 and 2,438 men and all four battalion commanders dead.
Another solider described Pte Scott as a ‘good pal and faithful friend’ at the time.
The pipers, pictured, will be sold in an online auction tomorrow and have an estimate of £800
Piper George Griffiths said: ‘He was well liked by officers and men of this battalion. He died a hero for he played the men into action and cheered them up to victory’.
Pte Scott’s body was never found and his name was added to the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme.
Chris Elmy from Lockdales Auctioneers said: ‘The bagpipes were brought to one of our valuation day roadshows.
‘The owner is a private collector who bought them from the Scott family, the bagpipes have never been up for auction before.
‘The family had always believed they belonged to a relative who was killed at the Somme.
Private Scott’s job was to provide morale to his fellow soldiers of the 21st Battalion Tyneside Scottish, Northumberland Fusiliers
‘It is believed the pipes were passed down from Alexander Scott, who was a piper with the Tyneside Scottish in the late 19th/early 20th century, to his son William Alexander Scott, who also piped for the Tyneside Scottish and who was sadly killed in action on the first day of the Battle of the Somme.
‘The tartan is correct for the regiment and the fact that a set of damaged pipes was kept and treasured leads us strongly to believe they were recovered from the person of William Alexander Scott. Family tradition holds that they were his.
‘It is very unusual to see such an evocative item as this go up for auction.
‘The music of the pipes was used to raise the morale of the soldiers, and also to drown-out the sounds of the battle going on around them.’
The bagpipes will be sold in an online auction tomorrow and have an estimate of £800.
Battle of the Somme: One of the deadliest fights in history
Lasting 141 days, the Battle of the Somme was the bloodiest battle of the First World War.
Around 420,000 British soldiers, 200,000 Frenchmen and 500,000 Germans were killed in the battle.
It is estimated 24,000 Canadian and 23,000 Australian servicemen also fell in the four-month fight.
A British soldier keeps watch over No Man’s Land as his comrades sleep during the Battle of the Somme in 1916
The British and French joined forces to fight the Germans on a 15-mile-long front, with more than a million-people killed or injured on both sides.
The Battle started on the July 1, 1916, and lasted until November 19, 1916. The British managed to advance seven-miles but failed to break the German defence.
On the first day alone, 19,240 British soldiers were killed after ‘going over the top’ and more than 38,000 were wounded.
But on the last day of the battle, the 51st Highland Division took Beaumont Hamel and captured 7,000 German prisoners.
The plan was for a ‘Big Push’ to relieve the French forces, who were besieged further south at Verdun, and break through German lines.
Although it did take pressure off Verdun it failed to provide a breakthrough and the war dragged on for another two years.