As part of their ongoing project to mark the centenary of the First World War, the northern folk experimentalists Harp and a Monkey have released a new video today – and we have the exclusive!
‘Raise A Glass To Danny‘ is the trio’s tribute to a fellow musician: Daniel Laidlaw, “the Piper of Loos”.
Exactly 100 years ago to this day Danny was with his battalion (The King’s Own Scottish Borders) in front of the town of Loos on the Western Front. Huddled in trenches that were being strafed by German machine guns and shrouded in poison gas, Daniel’s officer urged him to start playing his pipes and raise morale.
The 40 years old climbed out of the trench and started playing and marching up and down in the midst of a storm of German steel. His comrades were so inspired they jumped up and crossed no-man’s land to take the enemy trenches in front of them. Danny went with them and continued playing despite being wounded twice and ultimately collapsing through loss of blood.
Carried from the battlefield, the piper recovered from his wounds and was presented with the Victoria Cross. He survived the war and was to die in the 1950s as a penniless and forgotten man. He was buried in a grave without a headstone.
Thankfully, a few years ago, a successful campaign was mounted to get him a proper headstone and Harp and a Monkey have vowed to do their bit to ensure the musician’s heroism is not forgotten.
Band singer, and First World War historian, Martin Purdy said: “Our centenary project is all about forgotten men and forgotten aspects of the war, including the role of music. Danny’s story shows how inspirational the part of the musician can be, and then how quick the nation was to forget the sacrifices of such men.
“We are really delighted to have unearthed some actual footage of Danny talking about his exploits in later life and to be able to have incorporated that into the song and video. We will definitely be raising a glass to Danny today!”
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