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  1. #1
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    PM Stuart Samson Gordon Highlanders

    Captain Stuart Samson MBE was the last Pipe Major of the Gordon Highlanders, being the Pipe Major at their amalgamation with The Queens Own Highlanders. He later became the director of the Army School Of Piping and Highland Drumming.

    You can spot him over the years as a piper due to his height, usually towering above the rest of the band.

    Here you can hear an nice solo from him

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iS1o2LjhPBw

    Here's a lovely photo of him as Pipe Major of the Gordon Highlanders



    When I came across the following photo of him today I was puzzled.



    He's wearing an interesting amalgamation of Gordon Highlanders Pipe Major's kit, Gordon Highlanders pipers' kit, and civilian kit.

    He's still playing his distinctive pipes (vintage Glen, as I recall) which are dressed in gold and black civilian cover and cords, and he's wearing a civilian plaid brooch.

    He's wearing a piper's (non-Pipe Major) tunic with his officer's gold and black twisted epaulettes. His tunic lacks the piper's trade badge and also the Pipe Major stripes. His crossbelt is the Gordon Highlanders piper's (non-Pipe Major) pattern.

    He's also wearing the Gordon Highlanders officer's pattern dirk.

    The background people are interesting too, because you can see a Drum Major of The Gordon Highlanders with a drummer and piper of The Highlanders wearing their RRS cap badges. In other words there's a mix of pre-amalgamation and post-amalgamation soldiers.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 19th September 18 at 05:07 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

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  3. #2
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    I was privileged to receive some small instruction from Stuart Samson in a camp setting a few years back. A surprisingly soft-spoken man with an occasional but wicked wit.

    Perhaps the alterations to his uniform have to do with his not “currently” serving as a band PM?
    'A damned ill-conditioned sort of an ape. It had a can of ale at every pot-house on the road, and is reeling drunk. "

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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by KD Burke View Post

    I was privileged to receive some small instruction from Stuart Samson in a camp setting a few years back. A surprisingly soft-spoken man with an occasional but wicked wit.
    That is very cool!

    Was he playing those Glens?

    I saw an interview with him in which he spoke of those drones as being a bit difficult. (I'm assuming he means the drones are a bit difficult to reed.) Here's the interview, video #7 at around 0:30, he says he got those Glens in the mid to late 1980s and played them around 20 years.

    http://www.piperspersuasion.com/stuartsamson/

    They have the distinctive extra-wide ferrules on the drone tops which I've seen in only one other set, also Glens.

    Quote Originally Posted by KD Burke View Post
    Perhaps the alterations to his uniform have to do with his not “currently” serving as a band PM?
    Yes in the interview he says he retired from the army in 2008. The last band I saw him playing in was Spirit Of Scotland.

    I've seen a few examples of ex-Pipe Majors wearing a mix of their old PM kit with civilian items. In those other cases they wore their old ornate Pipe Major doublets with all the arm-badges. Sometimes it takes a close examination to tell a serving PM from an ex-PM due to that. It's why this photo was so interesting, the first thing that jumped out to me was his plain sleeve! Then the more I looked the more odd it became, even the men in the background not quite adding up.

    If the Gordons were amalgamated in 1994 and the Royal Regiment Of Scotland formed in 2006 how can you have the Drum Major of the Gordon Highlanders in the same photo with a piper of 4SCOTS?

    So that photo is either a special performance with serving and ex-army participants, or it's photoshopped. That's the only possibilities I can think of.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 21st September 18 at 07:45 AM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  6. #4
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    I'm sorry to say I didn't take note of his pipes. This was around 2012 or so and I was attending a camp at Kennesaw State University near Atlanta. The program was under the auspices of the National Piping Centre. Regrettably it has since been discontinued.

    The other instructors that week were John Mulhearn and Glen Brown.

    I learned a great deal that week!
    'A damned ill-conditioned sort of an ape. It had a can of ale at every pot-house on the road, and is reeling drunk. "

  7. #5
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    Great song, thanks for sharing. I noticed the guys with cheetah pelts drapped over them. Does that have any expeditionary significance with the Gordon Highlanders?

  8. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Manu View Post
    Great song, thanks for sharing. I noticed the guys with cheetah pelts drapped over them. Does that have any expeditionary significance with the Gordon Highlanders?
    Not cheetah probably, they're usually tiger and leopard.

    Yes expeditionary significance exactly. Bass drummers especially, serving in India, didn't want the drum hardware to damage their uniform tunics so they cut a hole in a tiger or leopard skin and wore it as sort of a protective bib. Tenor drummers often wear them too. Sometimes you'll see the bass drummer in a tiger skin and the tenor drummers in leopard skins.

    These skins were a mark of overseas service.

    Strange to think that a tiger skin would be less valuable than a uniform tunic, but in the 19th century skins were evidently cheaper than a tunic (which had to come all the way from Britain).

    Here you can see drummers of The Black Watch wearing them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM3lSOLv9Ow

    I wonder how many of the skins used by the regiments are old genuine ones. Highland Outfitters sell new ones made from fake skins. Sometimes they have the animal's heads on the back.
    Last edited by OC Richard; 23rd September 18 at 05:45 PM.
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  9. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    Not cheetah probably, they're usually tiger and leopard.

    Yes expeditionary significance exactly. Bass drummers especially, serving in India, didn't want the drum hardware to damage their uniform tunics so they cut a hole in a tiger or leopard skin and wore it as sort of a protective bib. Tenor drummers often wear them too. Sometimes you'll see the bass drummer in a tiger skin and the tenor drummers in leopard skins.

    These skins were a mark of overseas service.

    Strange to think that a tiger skin would be less valuable than a uniform tunic, but in the 19th century skins were evidently cheaper than a tunic (which had to come all the way from Britain).

    Here you can see drummers of The Black Watch wearing them.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KM3lSOLv9Ow

    I wonder how many of the skins used by the regiments are old genuine ones. Highland Outfitters sell new ones made from fake skins. Sometimes they have the animal's heads on the back.
    Excellent, I figured there was a connection there somewhere. Thanks! It's one thing I love about military uniforms, everything has a meaning and a connection to something in the history of the unit/service. It's like wearing history!

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