VJ Day 15th Aug 2020 – The War in Japan Part 1

Today we remember the atrocities of the war in Japan in a three part series.

The War in Japan Part 1 – 75th Anniversary

VJ Day – or Victory over Japan Day – on 15 August 1945 ended one of the worst episodes in British military history, during which tens of thousands of servicemen were forced to endure the brutalities of prisoner of war camps. It is estimated that there were 71,000 British and Commonwealth casualties of the war against Japan, including more than 12,000 prisoners of war who died in Japanese captivity. More than 2.5 million Japanese military personnel and civilians are believed to have died over the course of the conflict.

Prisoners at Changi Jail.

Many prisoners of the Japanese had been forced to build the infamous Burma railway, often called the Death Railway and carry out other punishing work on rations of just a bowl of rice a day.

The railway ran 250 miles between Thailand and Burma (now Myanmar), to supply troops and weapons in Japan’s Burma campaign.

The fighting in Europe had ended in May 1945, but many Allied servicemen were still fighting against Japan in east Asia.

Japan rejected an ultimatum for peace, and the US believed that dropping a nuclear bomb would force them to surrender.

Four months after VE Day the US dropped two atomic bombs on Japan. The first on Hiroshima, the second on Nagasaki, killing an estimated 214,000 people.

Two weeks later Japan surrendered.

Today commemorations began at sunrise, with a piper playing Battle’s Over at the Imperial War Museum’s HMS Belfast in London.

P/Sgt Neil Esslemont- RAF Halton Pipes & Drums on board HMS Belfast at Tower Bridge, London. The ship was part of the Pacific Fleet during the war on Japan.

Military pipers were also playing at dawn in India, Australia, New Zealand and Nepal. In Japan, national memorial services have been held in Tokyo.

Clr Sgt Lil Bahadur Gurung piping at the VJ Day 75th commemorations at the National Memorial Arboretum, Staffordshire. The Ghurka’s played a major role in the War on Japan.

Capt Sir Tom Moore, who served in the Burma campaign has previously described VJ Day as “the most special day”.

“It was VJ Day when the pain of war could finally start to fall away as peace was declared on all fronts,” said Sir Tom – who raised millions of pounds for NHS charities by walking laps of his garden during lockdown.

“I respectfully ask Britain to stop whatever it is doing and take some time to remember.”

“We must all take the time to stop, think and be thankful that were it not for the ultimate sacrifices made all those years ago by such a brave band of men and women, we would not be enjoying the freedoms we have today, even in these current difficult times.”

Eian Orr

It is with great sadness and shock I have to inform you all that Eian Orr passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Saturday night.

Eian’s brother Dougie has emailed me, I’m afraid I don’t have any other information regarding funeral etc.

Eian was the youngest of the Orr brothers, Bill being the eldest with Dougie the middle brother. The family home was in Havelock street, Partick.

Eian can be seen here carrying the trophy at the front of the band in Rothesay 1975
Colin McCallum, Ally Morrison, Bill Orr, Eian Orr, Louis Collins and George Hunter who was the drumming instructor at the time in his Milngavie kilt.

After leaving the 214 Eian played in the Bishopbriggs Pipe band along with his brother Bill, Stevie McQuillan and Stevie Littlejohn.

He also played in the Glasgow Skye Association Pipe Band along with myself & Stevie Littlejohn. Thereafter moving to the 100 Pipers Whisky Pipe Band.

Eian lived down in Ayrshire and I personally hadn’t seen him for a good few years.

I’m sure all Ex Members would like to extend their condolences to the whole Orr family at this sad time.

I will post up funeral details nearer the time, although no doubt due to Covid-19 there will be restrictions.

The BB collection of bagpipe music

A new book written by John Shone is now available. All proceeds from the book go towards the Boys’ Brigade.

The book is a high quality fold flat A4 portrait production. It runs to 70 pages with 40 tunes of which four are piobaireachd. Mr Shone is an active member of the Piobaireachd Society.

There are tunes by former BB boys, Donald MacPherson and Robert Wallace plus some by the author and P/M JB Robertson one of his teachers.

The book has an impressive number of Boys Brigade band photographs including 3 of the 214 Glasgow (P/M Ian McLellan, Robert Wallace), the 1st St Andrews, the 139 Glasgow (where Seumas MacNeill and Thomas Pearston of the College of Piping were taught), the 1st Hawick, the 1st Port Glasgow, the 1st Troon and of course the 5th Croydon.

More details can be found in the pipingpress article here, where it is available to purchase.

Dorothy Scott

I’ve just been advised by our Chairman that Dorothy Scott (or Dot as she was known to many), has passed away.

Dot who was Davie Scott’s widow, passed away last week after having a stroke.

The funeral is at Woodside Crematorium Paisley on Monday 6th July.

They have requested Family only in attendance, due to limited numbers allowed.

(There is an online stream of the funeral available. If anyone wishes the live link details, please contact the secretary and we can forward it to you by email.)

On behalf of all the 214 Ex Members, I would like to extend our condolences to the family at this sad and testing time.

Alex MacIver – Radio programme tribute.

Listen to the programme here.

I am pleased to announce there has been a great radio programme recorded for IslesFM by Maggie Smith.

Maggie interviews the 214’s Hector Russell about the life of Alex MacIver.

The interview has a great balance of musical input, all tunes being Alex’ compositions, as well as great information on Lewis island life.

Maggie Smith

The timings of the broadcasts are listed below.

Hector advises on the background to it all:-

“One of my first steps in my adventure to source the compositions by Alex MacIver was to find a Lewis connection to aid me in my quest.

I was given the telephone number of Maggie Smith and made the contact explaining the purpose of my approach. I told her that we had already gathered a number of Alex’s musical creations some of which had Lewis connections like Achmore Loch. “Achmore Loch” Maggie enthused saying that not only did she live in Achmore but was looking as we spoke out of her kitchen window at the very loch in question!

This was some years ago and since then I have received every possible assistance from Maggie about Lewis and Gaelic and many related topics.

Maggie is a lady of many talents. She is resident in Achmore in the croft adjacent to where Alex MacIver’s mother was born and brought up.

She is among many other things a writer, a musician, an actress, a historian/researcher a writer and broadcaster.

Maggie had for some time a plan to create two radio broadcasts about Alex and his achievements. The first in English was to cover his piping contribution and the second in Gaelic covering his significant achievements in Gaelic culture particularly in theatre. This was to be two half hour programmes. However such was the volume of material she had collected this plan morphed into an hour long event which will be broadcast next week.

Maggie has been and remains a very valuable ally on “Matters MacKeever” providing much information and contact with several very useful sources.

I thank Maggie for all her assistance and constant wise advice.”

Hector Russell

Click here to go to IslesFM’s website. You then have to click the listen here logo at the top, to listen to the current IslesFM radio programme.

The programme is scheduled to be aired:-

Tue 23rd & 30th June at 7pm

Wed 24th June and 1st July at 12pm

Fri 26th June and 3rd July at 1pm

The recorded programme is now available, listen to it here.

Covid-19 and the 2020 Reunion

We all hope you are keeping well and managing to cope during these trying times of the Covid-19 Pandemic?

I have spoken to quite a few Ex Members since lockdown and everyone seems to be coping alright.

If you require help, contact me and I’ll see what can be done using our network of members, or through your local agencies to provide this help.

This years reunion was a great success by all accounts, everyone I’ve spoken to really enjoyed the evening and the food!

Don Glass our Chairman took these photos on his phone. (Despite struggling with the ‘lurgy’.) I thank Don for these.

Stephen McQuillan your Treasurer also forwarded a short video of the piper and drummer who played on the evening, which has been added to our Video page.

Johnny Simpson and Kerr McQuillan who are both Grade 1 players with Peoples Ford Boghall & Bathgate Caledonia Pipe Band, entertained the company with a fitting tribute of tunes.

These were excellently played and received, to remember our recently lost piping and drumming members.

The Committee would like to thank them for their fantastic playing.

Click here to go to the video page where Video 6 can be seen.

Archie MacLean & Iain McLellan
Robert Limond & Gordon McIntyre
Tom Connelly & Ally Osborne
Hector Russell, Bobby Laverty & Alasdair Ross
Willie Ellis & Stevie McQuillan
Neil MacFadyen & Norman Webster
Gordon Medlow Stevie Littlejohn & Graham Gillan
George Cochrane Malcolm McColl & Dougy McColl
Davy Kyle Duncan Masson & Iain Morrison
Archie Longwell & Andy Elder
John Courtney & Iain Glass
John MacLeod Finlay MacLennan & Alan Davidson
John McCartney & Alasdair McKay
General picture by Davy Kyle

Hopefully things will get back to some sort of normality soon.

Take care all.

Letter to all Ex Members

I received an email today from an Ex Member.

Dear Ex Members

My wife and I are just two, of the thousands of people that have been told by the UK and Scottish Government, to lockdown for 12 weeks.

Good weather has encouraged us all out into the garden, to complete any DIY projects that needed to be done.

So if like me, you find that there is too much television to take it all in, if you’re looking for something to do?

Your Ex Members website still requires your stories of days in the Company.

We appeal to Ex Captains, Officers, Boys, with fathers and brothers, all Ex-Members.

Pipers and Drummers that continued their training in the Company, in Senior Bands like the City of Glasgow Police and elsewhere.

But remember, it’s not all pipes and drums.

We had Ministers, Footballers, Doctors, Bankers, to mention a few.

So right then, your thoughts on paper please?

(or preferably email)

Send them to Alan YOUR Secretary for YOUR website.

John Rogers B.E.M.

Ex Captain of the 108thGCBB Partick.

“Very sad news that John Rogers (Jolly) passed away on Wednesday 15th April, aged 90.

He succumbed to a worsening of his dementia and was not taken by the coronavirus.

John served as an officer in the B.B. for several decades. He had a positive influence on the lives of many hundreds of boys and their families, and a debt of gratitude is felt by all. This kind, selfless and dedicated man was a true Partick Legend.

Due to the virus restrictions he will not receive the send off he deserves and it is hoped that some sort of memorial service/event can be arranged in the future to mark his passing and his life. RIP.”

P.M. Donald MacKenzie

“A true legend in BB and Pipe Band worlds.

Always the gentleman and would stop and talk to all at the pipe band contests or in the streets of Partick.

I had the privilege of attending a 108 Camp to Guernsey along with Stevie McQuillan as officers, as well as helping out with Vaulting Box classes and the band.

Alan McColl

(214 BB EX members Secretary)

“Well said Alan McColl

I remember the mutual work and the camp you mentioned was outstanding.

The Vaulting box work I also remember. When you, Finlay Urquhart and myself went along to Partick after our own Company meeting, to work jointly with our mates in the 108.

From this friendships have continued with many.”

Stevie McQuillan

(214BB Ex Members Treasurer)

Stevie seen here in the 108 Pipe Band.
(5th from the left in the back row)
An old pic of John leading the 108 along the streets of Partick.
A tune written by Douglas Adam (108th Ex Member) which appeared in Dougie Pincock’s book.
(Douglas is 3rd from the right on the back row of same picture Stevie is in.)

(Material for this post was kindly taken from the 108th BB Facebook page.)