The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

'Sans Peur'       Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders red and white dicing       'Ne Obliviscaris'

The Pipes and Drums
The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess Louise's)

If anyone has any stories, anecdotes, photographs or other information about the Pipes and Drums, please send details.

Grateful thanks go to Eddie Park for his advice and support in the gathering and verification of this information and to Alan Young for providing the photographs.


The strength of the Pipes and Drums has varied in number throughout the years. For example, in 1963 there were 33 members of the Pipes and Drums. This was made up of 23 pipers and 10 drummers. Whereas, in 1976, the Pipes and Drums were reduced to just 6 playing pipers, with 10 learner pipers undergoing training to re-build the pipe section. Today, with restrictions being placed on the size of Battalion Units, each platoon now consists of 27 men, but some Pipe Bands may have a complement less than that.

While it would be ideal for the Battalion to be in a position to select and recruit pipers and drummers who can already play before enlistment, in the real world this is not possible. Therefore, under the guidance of the Pipe Major, enlisted members who are complete beginners are trained from scratch by following a specialised training programme. Once they can play well enough, pipers can attend courses run by the Army School of Bagpipes and drummers can undertake examinations set by the Royal Scottish Pipe Band Association.

Whenever the Battalion is stationed in the UK, the Pipe Band is permitted to compete in any appropriate National pipe band competition.

Promotion prospects to Pipe Major or Drum Major are based on merit and the selection for the appointment is carried out by a Regimental Board. The criteria for selection demand that the appointee has the necessary combination of musical skills and leadership qualities.

Pipe Majors 91st and 93rd, 98th 91st / lst Battalion

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Drum Majors 91st/lst Battalion

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Photo © Alan Young
This is the Regimental piper banner. The backcloth and flashes are of Regimental pattern tartan with a gold braided fringe.
The centrepiece is the Regimental Crest made of coloured silk.


The training of Cruachan, the Regimental mascot, in preparation for a parade with the Pipes and Drums, is done by leading him with the Pony Major in front of the band during Pipe Band marching rehearsals.

More information on Cruachan can be seen here . . . . . . . . .

Battalion Company Pipe Tunes

  • 'A' Company: - 'The Barren Rocks of Aden', a 2/4 march, composer A. MacKellar, 78th Seaforth Highlanders

  • 'B' Company: - 'The Glendaruel Highlanders', a 6/8 march, composer Pipe Major A. Fettes, Gordon Highlanders

  • 'D' Company: - 'MacDonald's awa tae the War', a 6/8 march, composer Angus Cameron

  • 'HQ' Company: - 'Scotland the Brave', a march in common time

Photo © Alan Young
A close-up view of the bass drum and drum sticks of the Pipes and Drums.

Battalion Daily Routine

A piper is detailed every day to be Duty Piper. His role is to play the traditional calls for each of the routine events which occur during a day in the life of the Battalion.

Other piping functions will include playing at dinners in the Officers' Mess when special guests are being entertained. The choice of tune is left to the piper but may include a piobaireachd (considered to be the classical music of the pipes).

  • Reveille: - 'Johnnie Cope', a 2/4 march. This tune is played to wake the Battalion. It was named after Sir John Cope who served in the Scots Guards Regiment in 1710.

  • Meal Call (all meals): - 'Bundle and Go', a 6/8 march. This tune is played to call the Battalion to the mess room or cookhouse.

  • CO's Orders: - 'A Man's a Man for a' That', a 2/4 march

  • Retreat: - 'The Green Hills of Tyrol', a 3/4 retreat march, composer Pipe Major John MacLeod, 93rd Sutherland Highlanders. This is usually played about 6 o'clock in the evening.

  • Lights Out: - 'Fingal's Weeping'. This is usually played about 11 o'clock in the evening.

Trooping the Colour

The format for Trooping the Colour is standard for all Regiments and consists of:-
  • Regimental slow or quick marches are played where appropriate.

  • The Argylls Pipe Band plays 'Loch Duich', a 6/8 slow march, for the slow Trooping the Colour.

  • The Argylls Military Band plays 'The Garb of old Gaul', a 2/4 slow march, for the slow Trooping the Colour.

  • The Argylls Pipe Band march past in quick time is 'Highland Laddie', a 2/4 quick march and the 'Campbells are Coming', a 6/8 quick march.

  • The Argylls Military Band march past in quick time is 'The Thin Red Line'.

  • Other tunes played by the band troop are 'Les Hugenots' and 'Scipio'.

Beating Retreat

Beating Retreat is a standard format for all Regiments and consists of:-
  • March On: usually the regimental march on. The Argylls Pipe Band plays: 'The Atholl Highlanders', a 6/8 march.

  • Retreat: sounded on bugles by the drummers.

  • Drummers Call: either the traditional or a new fanfare.

  • Retreat Marches: this consists of 3/4 marches at the Pipe Major's choice, but the Argylls Pipe Band plays tunes such as:-
    • 'Lochanside', a 3/4 retreat march,
    • 'Loch Maree', a 3/4 retreat march, composer Pipe Major G. S. McLennan
    • 'Heroes of St Valery' etc.

  • Selection: this consists of
    • a Slow march - in marching formation
    • a 2/4 Quick march - the band forms a circle while playing the 2/4 march
    • a Strathspey - in circle formation
    • a Reel - in circle formation
    • a 6/8 march - during the playing of the 6/8 march, the band reforms from the circle into marching formation.

  • Marching Display: Show-piece marching and playing display. The tunes played are at the Pipe Major's discretion.

  • March Off: this is when the Pipes and Drums march off the arena or parade ground to the tunes:-
    • the Regimental Charge - 'Monymusk', a strathspey in common time,
    • the March Past - 'Highland Laddie', a 2/4 quick march and 'The Campbell's are Coming', a 6/8 quick march.

Photo © Norman McKay
The Pipes & Drums with Drum Major Jimmy Malloch (D) and Pipe Major Andrew Pitkeathly
"Beating Retreat" at Limni Mines Camp, Cyprus on Balaklava Day 1958.

Click on a photo for a larger view

Footnote: Here is a technical development about the bass drones of the bagpipes by Tom Barker, which you pipers might find interesting.

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