THE PIPES By Alan Norcott, 8/9 RAR
It was 1974; 8/9 RAR was a year old. I’d started a pipes & drums band in 8 RAR the year before. As our RSM, Jock Allen, was a Scot, he instigated into our formal guard mounts Mon-Fri a ceremony revolving around the lowering of the flag. A piper was to play an evening hymn called the ‘End of the Day’. As it was my turn as duty piper, I took up my position in front of the flagpole with the BOS in his normal position to lower the flag as the hymn was played. This being his first B0S, of course as far as he was concerned, shits were trumps, with the RSM watching from across the road. The hymn was to be played on the second movement of present arms. With the guard commander screaming present arms, I moved one pace forward and proceeded to play the hymn.
Now, I had taught this hymn to all the pipers and played it myself countless times, so it was a tune I was comfortable with. Wrong!! I had a complete mental block and out came that wonderful old tune ‘London Bridge’. Well, the guard commander lost control of his guard, who were pissing themselves. The poor bloody BOS was trying to count how many extras he was about to receive as the RSM approached at light infantry pace, saying to me with a face that looked as if it were ready to explode, “Seeing how well you played that, Cpl, you can play it for the next 14 days.”
Of course, I thanked him, did a right turn and headed for the band room. The only thing wrong with the route I had to take was that it passed the boozer, which just happened to be full of diggers. As I passed, a great roar came from the boozer, sounding like ‘London Bridge’.
I copped heaps for a few weeks but I would answer with: “Have you ever seen any battalion in the regiment have their colours lowered to that sterling old tune ‘London Bridge’<
Note. BOS means Battalion Orderly Sergeant.
Suppressive fires – won’t.