Blog posted on behalf of Club 21 placement volunteer Karen Oakley:
Over the past few weeks, I have been researching the Pìobaireachd Society’s correspondence from the war years. It has been a fascinating way to get a sense of home life during the four long years of war and its effects on one society: from the financial restrictions to the effects of conscription. Even the appearance of the letters speak loudly of the context: a strong black line around the outline of the letter indicated a period of mourning, as my supervisor Rachael told me.
My first main post outlined the correspondence relating to the Society’s preparations to train pipers with view to their serving in the army. This aim was ubiquitous in their correspondence, even in peacetime. The pride and importance associated with it was real- something which is more difficult to understand today having experienced two World Wars and since learned of the experiences of those on the front line.
As the war progressed, the amount of correspondence becomes thinner, which in itself is an indication of the effects of war on the running of the society. My next post told of the financial difficulties in being able to continue to run piping classes. Yet more importantly, members revealed the reality that many prospective teachers and pupils were serving abroad. Unfortunately, there is no correspondence from members who served on the front line. The impact of war for many of them, on an individual level is now understood to have been emotionally draining and long-lasting.
My last main post showed that plans were drawn up soon after the war to commemorate the pipers who had fallen, mainly through the establishment of a Military School of Piping at Edinburgh Castle. Unfortunately, this main centre never came to be though pipers continued to be taught in classes across the country.
This is my final post on the Pìobaireachd Society’s World War One material. I have really enjoyed my placement at the Archives Services and really appreciate the time and assistance by everyone here in helping me. I would highly recommend you take the opportunity to visit if you can. Please contact the Duty Archivist to make an appointment: firstname.lastname@example.org