The Pipes and Drums undertook this project as one of many activities to commemorate the Regiment’s 100th anniversary. In this landmark year the Regiment honours a century of service to our country and the community of Calgary. It was this community that formed the 103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles) on April 1st, 1910. At the outset of the First World War the 103rd contributed drafts to what became the 10th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force and served in the trenches of France and Belgium. Among their many distinguished acts of bravery and sacrifice, Calgary's fighting men were among the first Allied troops to encounter chlorine gas in the Ypres salient near an oak plantation at St. Julien known as Kitcheners' Wood. When French troops broke and ran in the face of this terrible weapon, Calgary's fighting men were ordered to counter-attack at night, directly into the withering machine gun fire of the enemy. The French General Ferdinand Foch referred to this action as the “single most gallant act of the war”, and earned the soldiers of the Regiment the distinction of wearing a single metal oak leaf on each shoulder.
The pipes they skirled at Kitcheners’ wood
Playing the call to steady the blood
The Maxim rattled, but still we stood
Repelling the gas with a piss-soaked hood
The weight we bear with the leaf we wear
Reminds us of our brotherhood
In 1921, keeping with the ancestry of the city and its people, the 103rd Calgary Rifles became The Calgary Highlanders and in 1925 affiliated itself with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Scotland. A Regimental Pipes and Drums was formed under Pipe Major William Buchanan and enriched its ties with the community by participating in many civilian and military functions. The soldiers continued to train and uphold the high standard of discipline and skill in keeping with that of the Canadian military and their forbearers.
On September 1st, 1939, The Calgary Highlanders received a telegram with a single word: "Mobilize". Arriving in the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain, the Regiment joined with The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) of Canada from Montreal, and Le Régiment de Maisonneuve from Quebec City to form the 5th Canadian Infantry Brigade. Under Pipe Major Neil Sutherland the Pipes and Drums were a proud and integral part of the Regiment and won numerous piping competitions while stationed in Scotland during the first part of the war. The Regiment fought many challenging and arduous battles after D-Day in North-west Europe, fighting through Normandy, Northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany. As did their comrades in the First World War, the men of The Calgary Highlanders distinguished themselves among the Allied infantry regiments earning 22 battle honors at great cost. Walcheren Causeway typified this bravery and fortitude. The port of Antwerp, whose approaches were guarded by Walcheren Island, was required to shorten Allied supply lines. The Scheldt was heavily fortified and defended, and the only route open to the Allies was a small road (known as the 'Sloedam' to the Dutch) over a mile long through mud and water impassable to men, vehicles and boats. As with their comrades at St. Julien the only tactic available was a direct frontal assault. The 'Sloedam' was assaulted on Hallowe'en night 1944 and taken after two Highlander attacks.
We lodged our colours, trained for the worst
In battle found our worthy post
With pipe and drum, stretcher and spade
There we toiled bringing ammo and aid
We piped you awake, we piped you to bed
With Flowers of the Forest we buried our dead
Soldiers of the Regiment have kept the history of dedication and service alive, volunteering for missions with NATO and the United Nations in many countries throughout the world including Cyprus, the Golan Heights, the former Yugoslavia, Somalia, the Middle East and currently the war in Afghanistan. These soldiers train, serve on missions and return to make the community even stronger, always a foot in both worlds, the military and civilian. The story of The Calgary Highlanders is woven into the fabric and history of this city we call home and are named after.
This 100-year legacy lives on today and the Regimental Pipes and Drums play a prominent part in it. The role of the band is not just to perform at military and civilian functions but to weave our music, our history, our traditions, our legacy and our voice into the fabric of Calgary and Canada, to keep alive the story that is The Calgary Highlanders. The band motto is "To promote and perpetuate, with pride and honour, the Regiment of The Calgary Highlanders". The members of the band (military and civilian volunteers) truly feel the privilege of contributing to an organization that is rich in its history and allows us to perpetuate the music and dedication of the long line of pipers and drummers who have come before us.
We lead you through Mewata's arch
With colours and the guard
One hundred years through peace and war
Our music carries on
We march you loud, we march you proud
The Regimental Pipes and Drums