Bass drummer Ken Nice and lead drummer Doug Holloway were in attendance at the city council meeting Oct. 1 to announce the formation of the James C. Richardson Memorial Pipe Band honouring Piper Richardson’s memory. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

New pipe band in Chilliwack to honour service and valour of Piper Richardson

They are calling it James C. Richardson Memorial Pipe Band to remember Jimmy

The memory of the late James C. Richardson, recipient of the prestigious Victoria Cross for valour, will be honoured with the formation of a new pipe band in his name.

Bass drummer Ken Nice and lead drummer Doug Holloway were in attendance at the Chilliwack city council meeting Tuesday to announce the formation of the James C. Richardson Memorial Pipe Band in a special presentation.

“War is terrible and no one wants to think of the reality of war,” Nice told council.

But some may not know the story of the brave piper from a Chilliwack family, killed in the Battle at Somme at the tender age of 20, or possibly younger depending on which account you believe.

Richardson is the subject of the stunning life-size bronze statue by sculptor John Weaver on the grounds of the Chilliwack Museum.

Piper Jimmy Richardson signed up to fight and was assigned to the 16th Infantry Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force regiment in 1914, known as the Canadian Scottish. He was killed at Regina Trench in the Battle of Somme in France in 1916, but not before writing many letters back home to Chilliwack describing his experiences.

Battle of Somme became known as the deadliest battle of the war with a million dead at the end of it for the world to mourn.

“I think it’s pretty important that we honour them and remember them,” Nice said.

The anniversary of Piper Richardson’s death is coming up, and an inaugural event for the new pipe band is being planned to recognize the only Chilliwack soldier to have ever been awarded the Victoria Cross for valor and the only piper to ever receive the VC.

Chilliwack is known for its corn, and for dairy farming but it also has this “fascinating” military heritage that is also “sad” but worthy of bringing everyone’s attention to, Nice said.

“We have a passion and our passion is pipes and drums,” Nice said, adding the idea of forming the band was to commemorate the hero.

So far they have 10 active members who have joined.

“It a nice way to start a little band,” Nice added.

James Cleland Richardson, died on the blood-soaked battlefield in 1916 and was buried on Oct. 9, posthumously earning the only Victoria Cross ever awarded to a piper for his “conspicuous bravery, and devotion to duty.”

Piper Richardson was praised in the official citation for asking his superior for permission to “play his company over the top” and eventually so inspired by his “splendid example of courage,” that they rushed the barbed wire with “such fury and determination” that the position was captured.

The young piper’s incredible “coolness” in the face of heavy fire is considered nothing short of astonishing.

Later, after participating in bombing operations, he put down his pipes as he stopped to carry a wounded officer off the battlefield. He went a distance and then remembered that he had left his pipes behind.

“Although strongly urged not to do so, he insisted on returning to get his pipes. He was never seen again, and death has been presumed accordingly owing to lapse of time,” according to the citation.

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The drum emblazoned with the name of the new band in town, the James C. Richardson Memorial Pipe Band. (Jennifer Feinberg/ The Progress)

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