The sorrowful sound of Piper Richardson’s home set of bagpipes will be heard in Chilliwack next month.
Chilliwack Museum and Archives is hosting a special commemorative event on the afternoon of Oct. 8 to mark 100 years since the local hero fell in the Battle of Somme during the First World War, at the age of 20 years old.
“The important thing about this event is that the push really came from the community,” said Matthew Francis, executive director of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives.
He fielded several calls from passionate people who wanted to know what was being done to recognize the centennial milestone.
Chilliwack’s hero, James Cleland Richardson VC, died Oct. 8 on the blood-soaked battlefield in 1916, earning the only Victoria Cross ever awarded posthumously to a piper for “conspicuous bravery.”
Piper Richardson was praised in the official citation documents for obtaining permission to “play his company over the top” where they rushed the wire with “such fury and determination” that the position was captured.
His coolheadedness was considered nothing short of astonishing.
“The day of the event marks 100 years since Piper Richardson gave his life in service at Regina Trench,” said Francis.
The drone of the pipes, and the uplifting tunes, were not only to inspire downtrodden soldiers, but also an important way of communicating strategy on the battlefield.
Richardson’s family lived in Chilliwack when he went overseas, and some kin still do, while others will travel here for the event.
“His courage has inspired generations,” Francis said.
The young piper was known to play a home set of bagpipes here in Chilliwack on special occasions.
“His story will live on through our remembrance,” said Francis.
The bagpipes recovered from the battlefield are now stored in a place of honour in the B.C. legislature, after being repatriated from Scotland in 2006.
But the home set of pipes are the ones that will be played by Grant Laporte, a member of the Delta Police Pipe Band, at the commemoration event in Chilliwack next month. Laporte is the steward of the pipes.
Members of the Richardson Family, The Canadian Scottish Regiment, and other distinguished guests, such as Mayor Sharon Gaetz, Chilliwack MLA John Martin, are planning to be in attendance. Members of Royal Canadian Legion, #4 will form the colour party.
A Memorial Ceremony will be followed by a reception. Everyone is welcome. For more details call, (604) 795-5210, ext. 101.