OT: 27 November 1915 – Review “In the Land of War” by Rev. L. Maclean Watt

The Oban Times, 27 November, 1915

A Padre with the Bagpipes
Rev. L. Maclean Watt

The value of the present correspondence in “the Oban Times” is well brought out by Rev. Lauchlan Maclean Watt’s experience with the pipes while at the Front. It shows the Bagpipes to be a passport to everyone’s favour, and points to the advantage there is in learning the pipes and playing them in the right way.

“The bagpipes,” he said, “were a wonderful medium of communication.” Among the instances he gives, here is one. Mr. Maclean Watt was on one occasion searching for a man who had been missing for several weeks, when he was suddenly sent fifty miles further up the line, with the added message, “Bring your bagpipes.”

“It was a great dark shed and there was no sign of anybody about, so I went right in, screwed up my pipes and began. In a minute I was surrounded by men eight or nine feet, and when I finished, there at the end of my drones was the very man I had been hunting for.

The minister of St. Stephen’s, Edinburgh, in his book, aims at showing “what the men, the camps and the life among them are out yonder as I saw them in the Land of War.” And Mr. Maclean Watt frames his experiences in graphic phrase and in moods both grave and gay. He is filled with astonishment at the unflinching attitude of the men, their cheerfulness, their jokes. Last of all, their sorrows he dwells upon with a reverent touch.

“It melts your heart to take their messages. ‘Tell my mother–or my wife–or my sweetheart–that I am a true man–that I am going to do my very best–that I am not forgetting.’ Or frequently, ‘Tell my wife that I have learned the truth out here. I am a changed man–I have given my soul to Him who died for me!’ There is the rustle of angels’ wings sometimes about the camps out there.”

Lochiel will be glad to read the story that tells of visiting a recruiting office when a young man came in offering himself for the Army, and for the Cameron Highlanders in particular. He gave his reasons, and they were worthy of note. First, that the Camerons had suffered so much; and, second, that the country needed the service of every man it could get.

It is altogether a readable book, and gives a vivid idea of the grimness of the War as well as of its humours–and these last include, we are glad to note, the stirring patriotic strains of the Pipes.

In the Land of War. Lauchlin Maclean Watt. One shilling. Turnbull & Spears, Edinburgh.