Daniel Laidlaw was a member of the Amble Co-operative Society in Northumberland. He joined The King’s Own Scottish Borderers and served a term with them in India before being discharged and joining the co-operative society’s store in Alnwick. Scottish regiments had fought to the sounds of bagpipes for hundreds of years and Laidlaw provided the music for battle. Upon the outbreak of war he rejoined his old unit. His two brothers had also joined the army; Farrier James Laidlaw and Driver George Laidlaw.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallant conduct in the field due to his actions on 29 September 1915. After the British had bombarded the enemy lines, an attack was launched on the German position. Laidlaw played the pipes as his fellow troops began to attack the German lines. He ran towards the enemy, continuing to play “Blue Bonnets over the Border,” but was injured by shrapnel in the left leg. He continued to play during the attack, playing “The Standard on the Braes o’ Mar'” until his troops had taken the position. He then hobbled back his own trench unaided.
When Laidlaw was presented with the Victoria Cross in hospital in Winwick near Warrington, he said that he ‘never thought that I should have won the grand decoration’ for what he did.
Co-operative News, 4 December 1915, page 1589.
WWI co-operative voices
This post is part of ‘WWI co-operative voices’ which shares the stories of co-operative workers and members during the conflict. In order to mark the centenary of the WWI, the Rochdale Pioneers Museum is staging an exhibition entitled ‘From shop floor to front line’ and the accounts of these soldiers, shop workers and conscientious objectors will run alongside it. They are tales of death, duty and of those who chose not to fight.
Through ‘WWI co-operative voices’ we will be releasing new posts about these individuals throughout the duration of the exhibition (due to open mid-May 2015 and run until May 2016). Read about the co-operative movement’s involvement in a war that shook the world by selecting a name from the column on the left. You can also follow us on social media for regular updates.
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We wish to thank the Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the ‘From shop floor to front line’ exhibition and project.