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Why do pipers play at ANZAC ceremonies?

Today is ANZAC day 2022. For our family, it’s a reminder of the lives that were sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy every day, that we will never take for granted. Lest we Forget.

Scott Hannah, who is a band officer with WAPOL was playing this morning at the City of Perth ANZAC day parade. Scott wore Piper’s Number 1 uniform, which you can see featured below. A commanding military outfit for a piper and most fitting for the ANZAC day ceremony, but he also has his own range of outfits for his own piping engagements, called Perth Bagpipes. Scott says” ANZAC day is the most important day on the calendar for pipers, but for me personally, it’s important to respect those who sacrificed themselves for our freedom”.

But this begs the question, why are their pipers at an ANZAC day dawn service. The bugle is the instrument, isn’t it?

History tells us that pipers have been used in military battles for hundreds of years. The origins of the Lone Piper date back to William Wallace in the 14th century to modern-day, with The Falklands War of 1982. In Scottish military units, a lone piper would signal the end of the battle for the day and farewell the fallen, but how did they become a feature at ANZAC day memorial services? There are a few examples but let me give you just one today.

Expats from Scotland fought for Australia in WW1 and WW2. The 27th Battalion was started in 1915, as an all-volunteer force. The unit went through cycles of closures and reopening in its lifetime as government budgets changed with depressions and war breakouts and it was later renamed the South Australian Scottish Regiment. It adopted the wearing of the MacKenzie Tartan as its ceremonial uniform and formed a pipe band.

The reality is, that Scots fought for Australia, and they had an impact on the freedoms we enjoy today. Add to that, there is a historical bent towards pipers farewelling the fallen. It's not hard to see the connection to present-day ANZAC day dawn services with bagpipes.

I hope pipers playing at funerals, weddings or even an ANZAC day dawn service will continue. To me, they represent ceremony, courage and sacrifice.

Greg McAdam