Lewis & Harris results / Tune mystery partly solved / Bergen-Belsen pipers

Lord Lovat, left, and Bill Millin shortly after landing in Normandy on D-Day.

Ashley MacDonald, Director of the Lewis & Harris Youth Pipe Band writes: “The Lewis & Harris Youth Pipe Band [pictured] usually holds an indoor solo competition every year. It’s limited to residents in the Western Isles, from the Butt of Lewis to Barra, and with over 500 pupils playing/learning chanter and pipes, we thought a one-off virtual competition would be beneficial for our youngsters and keep them motivated.”


Beginner Chanter – 1 Liam Beaton; 2. Freya Duffield; 3. Isla Jane Steel; 4. Thomas Cunningham.
Novice Chanter – 1. Ruairidh Cowan; 2. Ruairidh MacLeod; 3. Kieran MacNeil; 4. Anna MacDonald.
Advanced Chanter – 1. Zoe Marie Steel; 2. Dòmhnall Eachann MacLean; 3. Laura Macleod; 4. Eilidh Marks.
Novice Primary March – 1. James MacRae; 2. Alexander MacLeod; 3. Cameron Hendry; 4. Fraser Laurie.
Novice Primary Freestyle – 1. James MacRae; 2. Alexander MacLeod; 3. Cameron Hendry; 4. Fraser Laurie.
Secondary Novice March – 1. Colin MacIver; 2. Alex Murray; 3. Donald Henderson; 4. Charlie Shirkie.
Secondary Novice Freestyle – 1. Aithne MacDougall; 2. Colin MacIver; 3. Alex Murray; 4. Charlie Shirkie.
Under 16 March – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Mairead Galbraith; 3. Andrew MacNeil; 4. Joseph Nicolson.
Under 16 Strathspey and Reel – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Joseph Nicolson; 3. Mairead Galbraith; 4. Aaron Ingram.
Under 16 Jig – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Kevin Beaton; 3. Joseph Nicolson; 4.= Aaron Ingram and Racheal Sinclair.
Under 16 Hornpipe – 1. Joseph Nicolson; 2. Kevin Beaton; 3. Eosaph Galbraith; 4. Andrew MacNeil.
Under 16 Ceòl Mòr – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Joseph Nicolson; 3. Kevin Beaton; 4. Aaron Ingram.
Under 16 Freestyle – 1. Eosaph Galbraith; 2. Joseph Nicolson; 3. Kevin Beaton; 4. Micheal MacLellan.
Under 18 March, Strathspey and Reel – 1. Callum MacMillan; 2. Martin Sinclair; 3. Kennedy Doig; 4. Finlay Widdop.
Under 18 Hornpipe and Jig – 1. Callum MacMillan; 2. Jamie Kennedy Doig; 3. Finlay Widdop; 4. Ciaran Murray.
Under 18 Ceòl Mòr – 1. Calum MacMillan.
Under 18 Freestyle – 1. Jamie Kennedy Doig; 2. Martin Sinclair; 3. Ciaran Murray; 4.= Finlay Widdop and Murdo Angus.

The National Piping Centre donated prizes for two winners.

Readers have been in touch regarding two recent appeals that we posted. The first is from Calum Galleitch from London (though originally from Sotland’s west coast) and concerns The Bitch o’ Blazes, which we posted two days ago.

Calum writes: “I can’t help with the title but the tune is clearly a variant of The True Lover’s Lament, that is on page 48 of the Seaforths standard settings. I wonder if, as sometimes happened, a traditional title was respun as a joke for those in the know, such as the Irish tune, An Phis Fliuch becoming The Choice Wife?

The True Lover’s Lament also also appears in the Kilberry Book of Ceol Meadhonach. The two tunes certainly do appear similar:

Above: ‘The True Lover’s Lament’ as it appears in the Kilberry Book of Meadhonach. It also appears in the Seaforths collection. Below: ‘The Bitch of Blazes’ from an old Black Watch manuscript.

Our thanks go to Calum for tidying that up. If anyone has any thoughts on the title do please get in touch in the usual way.

Incidentally, Calum has just set up a Facebook group called ‘Constructive Criticism for Pipers‘. The intent, he tells us, is that it is a place for expert and novice alike to post their own recordings and provide constructive feedback to others. All genres of highland bagpiping are welcome.

Further to last week’s post about Branko Lustig and Mr Shlaer of Santa Fe’s appeal for information, we have received a a few interesting responses so far. David Livingstone writes: “While the textbooks will tell you Bergen-Belsen was liberated by 11 Division, the small print is that 15 Scottish Division (with battalions from virtually every Scottish infantry regiment) passed the gate the same day on their way to capture Celle just down the road, and they provided logistic support to 11 Division in the recovery task. It could have been pipers from any of them that Mr Lustig heard.”

Branko Lustig. As a 12/13 year old, the future producer of Steven Spielberg’s movie ‘Schindler’s List’, was in Bergen-Belsen and on the brink of dying when he all of a sudden heard a sound he thought might have been produced by angels. It was in fact British Army pipers playing as the camp was liberated.

Tom Bruun believes that The Gordon Highlanders were one of the regiments there that day, and that Alex Cupples (1923-2014) was the Pipe Major of the 2nd Battalion at that time. Tom says he is in touch with Alex’s daughter from time to time and recalls her confirming that Alex had been among the British troops that liberated the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp in the spring of 1945.

In the early 1970s Alex Cupples moved to Manitoba, Canada.

The following information, however, stopped us in our tracks and sheds new light on an iconic figure of the Second World War:

John Millin, son of the famous D-Day piper, Bill Millin, tells us that his father was also among the soldiers that liberated Bergen-Belsen. He writes: “Very little is written about my father’s war after Normandy. At the end of the Normandy Campaign in August 1944, No. 4 Commando was returned to the UK for rest and preparation for the invasion of Belgium and the Netherlands. After the horrors he witnessed during the fighting in Normandy he was better prepared for the vicious house-to-house fighting through the Netherlands. He was with the 4th Special Services Commando Brigade as they made their way into Germany.

A still from the 1962 film, The Longest Day which starred Peter Lawford as Lord Lovat, left, and Leslie de Laspee as Bill Millin.

“On April 15th, 1945, British forces had surrounded Bergen-Belsen and taken the German surrender. Dad along with a few other pipers from the Achnacarry band were instructed to play as they led the Commandos into the camp. Nothing could have prepared them for the sights they witnessed inside the camp. The Army Photographic Unit (APU) descended on Belsen to record the cruel and de-humanising treatment inflicted by the Nazi’s on thousands of innocent people, most of whom lay dead and decaying where they fell.

Bill Millin photographed in 1944 piping for some comrades.

“Dad was put in charge of a burial party tasked to collect all the dead Germans soldiers and have them buried in the local cemetery. Captured German SS men along with civilian Germans from the local village dug the individual graves whilst the murdered inhabitants of Bergen-Belsen were bulldozed into mass graves to prevent further disease. Dad was given a camera by the APU and asked to photograph his daily tasks, one of the undeveloped films made its way into Dad’s kit bag and developed on his return to the UK.

“The photographs from this film were donated to the National Holocaust Museum in Laxton, Nottinghamshire by the Millin family. Dad kept the photos to ensure that the world could never deny the Holocaust.”

Our thanks go to all our correspondents.

• We will run a feature on Bill Milllin shortly – Editor.

Bill Millin in 2004. (Photo: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire). Bill died in 2010 aged 88.