Pipes & Drums of Blackwatch Come to State Theatre Today
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by BWW News Desk
The Pipes and Drums of The Black Watch 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland, and The Band of Scots Guards bring their legendary pipes, drums and highland dancers to the State Theatre today, January 13th, 3 PM.
The Lehigh Valley's own world-renowned Liberty High School Grenadier Band will open the show.
Tickets are $40 & $35 and can be purchased by visiting the State Theatre Box Office, 453 Northampton Street, Easton, by calling 1-800-999-STATE, 610-252-3132 or online at www.statetheatre.org. Sponsored by WDIY 88.1 FM.
Featuring bagpipes, traditional military marches, drum solos, Celtic dancing and beloved songs, this event promises a spectacular afternoon of pageantry and excitement for the entire family.
The War of the Austrian Succession brought The Black Watch its first Battle Honor, at the Battle of Fontenoy in 1745. Shortly afterward, it distinguished itself at the Battle of Ticonderoga during the French and Indian War.
Although The Black Watch participated in many battles during the Revolutionary War, it clams no honor for these engagements against its American cousins. The red tackle or plume, which the Regiment considers a Battle Honor, was awarded in 1795. Legend claims it was awarded for service at the Battle of Geldermalsen. However, more than likely it was an award for many years of service in North America.
During the nineteenth century, The Black Watch served all over the world. In the Napoleonic Wars, it comprised part of the British Army at the Battle of Corunna, Toulouse, the Peninsula Campaign and Waterloo. It also fought against Russians in the Crimean War, quelled mutineers during the Sepoy Rebellion in India, fought against Colonel Arabi Pasha in the Egyptian Campaign of 1882 and the Dutch South Africans in the Boer War.
The Regiment raised 27 battalions for service on all fronts during World War I, Battle Honors for the Great War include the Marne, Ypres and the Somme.
The Black Watch fought the "Axis" in theaters as far away as France, Greece and North Africa. Notable engagements during World War II include Crete, Tobruk and El Alamein.
The Regiment's service since World War I has sent it to Borneo, Korea (where it fought with the U.S. Marine Corps at "The Hook") as well as several tours in Germany and, most recently, Hong Kong.
Today, The Black Watch continues to serve as a fully operational Battalion in the modern British Army. The Black Watch was spared during the recent defense cuts, which caused the amalgamation of many historic regiments.
The red hackle worn on the bonnets of The Black Watch was adopted in 1795. In the Regiment, the red hackle is more than a trophy; it represents an honor and on most headdresses is worn in lieu of a regimental badge. When the feather bonnet (which does have a badge) is worn by the Pipes and Drums, the Pipe Major and Drum Major wear a small sphinx under the tackle in commemoration of the Battle Honor "Egypt" -specifically the 1801 Battle of Alexandria. Pipers of The Black Watch have always worn the feather bonnet.
The feather bonnet itself is something of a curiosity. Originally, it was a simple Scottish bonnet stuck with a few feathers or tufts of fur. During the Napoleonic Wars, it evolved into an imposing structure that reached full bloom in Victorian times. Originally, it was made of ostrich feathers but today it is made of synthetic material to look like feathers. Surprisingly, unlike the Scots Guards bearskin cap, it is quite light.
The scarlet doublets (Highland jackets decorated with white "Crown and Inch" lace, Inverness skirt flaps and wings) worn by the drummers of The Black Watch have remained virtually the same since 1914. The blue facings denote their royal status. Pipers wear Archer Green Doublets much like those worn before 1914. The cut and style is similar to the drummer's doublet. Pipers also wear a full-body plaid and kilt of Royal Stewart tartan, with silver mounted, buckled waist belts and cross belts. Drummers wear white waist belts with a brass buckle. While it had been worn for some time, the Royal Stewart tartan was officially granted to pipers of the Regiment as a distinction in 1889. Drummers wear a fly plaid and kilt of regimental tartan. Leopard skins are worn by the tenor and bass drummers.
Both pipers and drummers wear a regimental pattern white hair sporran (Highland purse) with five black hair tassels. Sergeants and ranks above (including the Pipe Major and Drum Major as well as all pipers) wear a sporran with a gilt cantle (top). All drummers below the rank of sergeant wear one of black leather surmounted with the regimental badge. All ranks wear red and black diced hose tops, white spats with square toes and black shoes. Both the Pipe Major and the Drum Major wear doublets embellished with gold lace, rank chevrons and appointment insignia on their lower right-hand sleeves. Sergeants and ranks above wear red sashes over their right shoulder and the Pipe Major wears a sash over his left shoulder. N.C.O.'s wear chevrons on the upper right sleeve. The Drum Major carries a staff or mace and wears a sash over his left shoulder bearing the regimental Battle Honors and badge. He also carries a claymore, the Highland broadsword. Both pipers and drummers carry dirks, or Highland daggers, on their waist belts. Drummers also wear decorative cords across their chests in red, yellow and blue as authorized for a Royal regiment.
The regimental dance team, which is drawn from the Pipe Band, wears modified Pipers and Drummers uniforms. This includes glengarries with regimental badges, Archer Green doublets with wings, black or white waist belts, kilts of either Royal Stewart or Government (Black Watch) tartan, Pipers or Drummers sporrans, diced hose tops and "ghilles," Highland dance shoes.