Pipe Major Evan Macrae book / Skye Gathering


The memoirs of the late Pipe Major Evan Macrae BEM have been published this week. Over the Chindwin to Lochaber: A Scottish Piper’s Memoir has been produced by Evan’s son, Duncan who lives in Lancashire, England. Bagpipe.News has read the first few chapters and can inform readers that it is a fascinating read.

Evan Macrae (1922-1991), who won the Gold Medal in 1982, only began competing after retiring in the 1970s after a long and distinguished career in the 1st Camerons. During 1944-45, he fought in the Burma Campaign, being appointed Pipe Major of the 1st Camerons in 1944.

Macrae’s memoirs cover life growing up in Skye, his incredible army career and then retirement to Fort William where for 13 years he taught many youngsters to play the pipes.

Argyllshire Gathering, 1981: Left to right: Fred Morrison Snr, Ed Clarke, Evan Macrae and Pipe Major Iain Morrison.

Son, Duncan told Bagpipe.News: “I first became aware of dad’s memoirs when he was ill with cancer, but had not seen them. When he died, my mother gave them to me in the hope I would make some attempt to have them published, as was my dad’s desire. There have been a couple of attempts to put them into a formal document and now in my 70s I have more time and feel it is something I need to get done for their memory.

“The book is a memoir of a man who grew up with bagpipes, became a piper, served through several military conflicts while being a piper and ended up giving back as a gift to others, his love of the highland bagpipe. That was his raison d’etre. To be a piper.”

Inset: Duncan Macrae with, on the wall in the background, a framed unknown artist’s impression of his father that was probably copied by the artist from the front cover of Illustrated magazine in 1952. The painting was found several years in a pub in London that was being refurbished and was eventually presented to Mrs Macrae and daughter by Scottish & Newcastle Brewery – see photo on the right which shows, from left to right Mrs Macrae and Robina James (Duncan’s sister) accepting the picture from Andrew Bannatyne, manager of the Duke of Argyll pub in Soho, and Scottish & Newcastle area business manager, Matthew Bucknall.

Evan Macrae was in the Cameron Highlanders at the same time as Willie McCrostie, John MacLellan, Mickey MacKay, Angus MacDonald (Glasgow Police), Jimmy McIntosh and Malcolm MacPherson. Among MacRae’s many well known compositions are Prince Charles’ Welcome to Lochaber, The Ardvasar Blacksmith, Over The Chindwin and The Duirinish Piping Society.

Bagpipe.News will carry a review of the book in due course.

• Click here to buy the book, priced £8.95 (plus shipping).

Organisers have confirmed that the Skye Gathering is the latest major solo-piping event to be cancelled for 2021. Skye Gathering and the Isle of Skye Highland Games usually take place in early August.