Poignant piping link to fallen soldier from Lisnamurrican

A set of bagpipes which belonged to a young Broughshane man who fell on the Western Front during the 1914-18 war were played again last week.

Solo piper Pipe Major Ian Burrows used them to play a poignant lament in memory of 500 pipers who lost their lives in World War 1, prior to the prize giving at the Ulster Festival of Solo Piping and Drumming Championships at Monkstown Community School, Newtownabbey on Saturday 18th April.

The 19th Century Peter Henderson bagpipes Ian played were manufactured in Renfrew Street, Glasgow and were played by Private Richard Maybin, of the 1st Canadian Mounted Rifles (Saskatchewan Regiment).

Ian, a Project Manager with the Royal Scottish Pipe Bands NI section explained that Richard was killed on the 2nd June 1916 aged just 21 years, during a major German assault in the Ypres Salient, where 80% of his regiment became casualties on one day.

Ian Burrows tells the story of the 19th Century bagpipes that were played by Private Richard Maybin during the 1st World War to the many band members and supporters who gathered for the prize giving at the Ulster Festival of Solo Piping and Drumming Championships at Monkstown Community School, Newtownabbey on Saturday 18th April.

He said: “Richard had travelled to Canada to find work and enlisted into the Canadian Army in Manitoba. His personal effects and bagpipes were returned to his mother, Mrs Margaret Maybin, Lisnamurrican, Broughshane, Co Antrim, where they remained in a trunk in the attic for more than half a century before being discovered and restored by Mr Harold Bennett of Carricklongfield, Dungannon.

“Richard Maybin is commemorated on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in Belgium and at 1st Broughshane Presbyterian Church.”

After hearing the story, Assemblyman Robin Swann has challenged the Stormont Culture Department to organize an event to commemorate military pipers who fought in World War One.

Mr Swann added: “As we commemorate the sacrifice of many who served faithfully in the Great War, we should not forget the tremendous morale boosting role which the forces’ musicians had in the battles.

“The men with the instruments were just as significant as the men with the guns. The musicians’ contribution must never be overlooked, and I call upon the Culture Department and its Minister to do the decent thing and follow the excellent example set by the RSPBANI and organize a series of official events to mark the very valuable role which forces musicians had in the conflicts.

Editor’s note: The 1st Battalion, Canadian Mounted Rifles, CEF, was an infantry unit of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in the First World War. Originally a mounted infantry unit named the 1st Regiment, Canadian Mounted Rifles, CEF, it was formed on November 7, 1914, in Brandon, Manitoba. The conditions of the Western Front made its mounts more of a hindrance than a benefit. On January 1, 1916, both CMR brigades (six regiments) were dismounted.

converted to infantry and reorganized as the 8th Infantry Brigade (four battalions). The 1st Regiment, CMR, became the 1st Battalion, CMR,[1] and it absorbed half the personnel of the 3rd Regiment, CMR (the other half going to the 2nd Battalion, CMR).[2]

Canadian Mounted Rifles recruitment poster

The battalion fought in most of the 3rd Canadian Division’s engagements until the end of the war.

The 1st CMR, along with the 4th CMR, was manning the 3rd Division’s front on June 2, 1916, when the Germans launched their assault at the outset of the Battle of Mount Sorrel. Its positions were overrun, and 557 of its 692 members (80%) were killed, wounded or captured.[3]