Poignant commemorations were staged in Lesbury on Saturday to pay tribute to First World War heroes, including a piper who was honoured with a military award for gallantry.
Lesbury Remembers 1914 to 1918 was timed to coincide with the centenary of the brave Victoria Cross-winning actions of Piper Daniel Logan Laidlaw.
Laidlaw was 40 when he carried out the courageous deed during the Battle of Loos in France in 1915.
Despite heavy German bombardment and being shot in both legs, he mounted the parapet and marched up and down, playing his company out of the trench. His bravery inspired British troops to a successful assault on armed enemy fortifications.
Piper Laidlaw, known as the Piper of Loos, was a pupil at the village’s former Church of England school, which is now the village hall.
He was in the 7th Battalion, The King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB), 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division British Army, when he carried out the deed.
As part of Lesbury Remembers, Northumberland’s Armed Forces Champion Coun David Ledger unveiled a commemorative paving stone marking 100 years from Piper Laidlaw’s heroic actions.
Fittingly, 18 members of the Laidlaw family were present on the day. His great-grandson Michael Laidlaw said: “I believe that I speak for all family members present, when I say we were amazed at the welcome and enthusiasm displayed by all taking part, on what was a very enjoyable informative day.”
Meanwhile, Lt Colonel Colin Hogg, who is a trustee of the KOSB Association, unveiled a specially-commissioned plaque, paying tribute to all pupils of the school who served in the First World War.
One of the highlights on the day was a parade, which was made up of pipes and drums, Army and Air Cadets, KOSB veterans, Piper Laidlaw’s relatives, children from Hipsburn First School and council representatives.
Crowds lined the streets for the procession, waving flags and cheering.
During the day, children from Hipsburn school, with direction from headteacher Dot Charlton, re-enacted an Edwardian-era lesson which ended with them singing four popular songs from the time. This took place on the stage in a part of the hall which was one of the four classrooms when it was the village school.
The village hall also hosted a representation of the Piper Laidlaw story and a display of First World War and Lesbury School memorabilia loaned by residents.
Lesbury Remembers was organised by the Village Hall Committee.
The Piper of Loos
Born in 1875, Daniel Laidlaw was educated at Lesbury’s Church of England School, which is now the village hall, and became a miller’s apprentice at Lesbury mill.
He joined the Army at 21 and served in the Durham Light Infantry in India.
He then served in the King’s Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB) as a piper until 1912 and re-enlisted when the First World War broke out.
He went to France with the regiment in June, 1915. He was awarded the VC following his bravery during an attack on the German trenches during the Battle of Loos.
Prior to an assault on enemy trenches and during the worst of the bombardment, Piper Laidlaw, seeing that his company was shaken with the effects of gas and with complete disregard for danger, mounted the parapet and, marching up and down, played his company out of the trench.
The company dashed to the assault while he continued playing his pipes – even after he was wounded – and until the position was won.
He was in the 7th Battalion, the KOSB, 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division British Army, when he carried out the deed.
He became known as the Piper of Loos and his heroics not only earned him the Victoria Cross, but also the French Croix de Guerre, which is a French military decoration which was created to recognize French and allied soldiers who were cited for their service during the First World War.
Prior to the war, Laidlaw married Georgina Mary at Alnwick Baptist Church in 1906. They had six children.
He worked around north Northumberland at different stages of his life, including at Alnwick’s Co-operative store and in South Doddington with a firm of horse breeders.
He attended both world war victory parades in London.
He died in 1950, aged 74, and is buried in Norham. He is the only Victoria Cross holder buried in Northumberland.