Pipes of peace at event in France

editorial image

A nine-strong delegation from the Borders is in France this week to mark the signing of the armistice treaty that brought World War 1 to a close.

Among the group attending is piper Gordon Thompson from Coldstream and fellow piper Bob Liddle from Kelso who are playing at numerous ceremonial events close to the France/Belgium border, as well as laying poppy crosses at the memorials at La Capelle and Hirson.

In November 1918, the German contingent sent to negotiate the armistice crossed the front line and met their French counterparts at La Capelle on November 7. The German bugler sounded the call for a ceasefire at 8.20pm before handing over to a French bugler. The monument of La Pierre d’Haudroy marks the exact location where the first act of the process that ended the First World War took place; the armistice treaty was signed the following day.

The Scottish Borders area is twinned with the Thierache border region of France, where La Capelle is located, and for the past 25 years piper Gordon Thompson has travelled there on many occasions, taking his bagpipes with him more often than not. Many Borderers have also made a similar trip as part of the battlefield tours organised by local schools. This will, however, without doubt be the most poignant and high profile of visits for the Borders party.

The official commemoration of the centenary of the first cease-fire, at the monument of La Pierre d’Haudroy, at La Capelle was led by French President Emile Macron on Wednesday, November 7, to mark the first act of the armistice between German and French soldiers.

His visit to the area is part of a week-long commemoration in France which has seen him visit war-hit areas in northern and eastern France attending individual ceremonies. It will culminate in a Remembrance Day event in Paris attended by between 70 and 80 world leaders, including US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.