The Bruce Gandy Bagpiping Development Society is to establish a piping scholarship fund to honour a young Canadian piper who was killed in a military helicopter crash on April 29. Almost two weeks after the crash, the cause of the crash of the Cyclone helicopter is still not yet known.
Abbigail Cowbrough (23) was a pupil of Gandy’s and a piper in 12 Wing Royal Canadian Air Force Pipes & Drums of Shearwater, Nova Scotia. Toronto-born Cowbrough, a Sub-Lieutenant, was among six Canadian Armed Forces members whose helicopter crashed into the Ionian Sea off the coast of Greece during Nato’s Operation Reassurance. Cowbrough was a marine systems engineering officer, and hers was the only body recovered in the immediate aftermath of the crash. The Canadian helicopter was returning to the Halifax-based frigate, HMCS Fredericton.
Last night, Monday evening, a police-escorted motorcade took her body from Halifax Stanfield International Airport to the Atlantic Funeral Home in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Cars lined Highway 102 as far as the eye could see.
The piping scholarship will be set up by the Bruce Gandy Bagpiping Development Society, a registered charity in Canada. Donations can be made HERE.
A thorough investigation — which could take more than a year — will commence shortly in order to determine why a fairly new helicopter (five years old) went down seemingly without warning.
[Note: our original story contained a couple of errors which have now been corrected – Editor].
Further to our story about Pipe Major John Whyte, who was killed two hours before the end of the Second World War, Atholl Highlander Piper, Bruce Hinch from Aberfeldy tells us that he used work at Blair Castle in the 1980s and 90s and one day was introduced to a group as being the “Duke’s piper” – which was indeed his job title.
“One of the group,” says Bruce, was an elderly Atholl Highlander piper, who has long since passed away, and he interjected saying, ‘And so am I’.
“I used to enjoy listening to Sandy Spence [Pipe Major of the Atholl Highlanders from 1985 to 2004] talk about Atholl Highlander pipers of old and he had a tremendous knowledge. He would talk about Peter Wilkie and Willie Logan, and the famous John Stewart from Pitlochry, who was a ‘tinker’ and an Atholl Highlander piper. I don’t remember him speaking of John Whyte but I do remember him saying that ‘we are all the Duke’s piper’.
“So I think it’s maybe something that went with that generation of pipers in the regiment and I think it was much more an honour and a privilege to be an Atholl Highlander piper then – even more so with having a Duke in residence – than it is now.”
A feature on the pipers of Blair Castle will be posted on Bagpipe.News in due course.
Organisers of last Friday’s reduced VE Day 75 effort say a similar commemoration may now take place on Saturday, August 15 to mark the 75th anniversary of VJ Day. August 15 would have been the second day of this year’s World Pipe Band Championships had it not been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bruno Peek, the man behind Battle’s Over and VE Day 75, said: “Many veterans of the conflict as it played out in the Far East sometimes feel left out whenever the end of the war is mentioned. We shoild never forget the sacrifices they made. It would be another three months before the war was over globally and I feel that this should be marked as well. With the restrictions place on us at the moment I expect it to be a very similar event to last Friday’s. I hope to make an announcement in due course but once again I’d like to thank all those pipers who led the commemorations of VE Day last Friday.”
In excess of 1,000 pipers worldwide participated in Friday’s VE Day 75 commemoration. Here is a small selection of photos: