Cariboo resident Doug White served in the First Battalion Royal Highland Regiment of the Black Watch.
Living in Scotland at the time, he had his carpentry apprenticeship for one week when he was drafted into the military at age 20.
White joined the Methihill Pipe Band in 1946 at 16 years of age. This village pipe band was supported by coal miners who put aside a few pennies a week from their pay cheques.
He said that serving in the military was a family tradition.
“My grandfather was killed in World War I at 28 years old, my dad served in World War II and my brother and I both served with the occupational troops in Germany,” he said.
He took his military training at Ft. George near Inverness, Scotland and served in Berlin for just over a year before joining his battalion’s military pipe band.
“I was one of the guards at Spandau Prison, where seven officers high up in Hitler’s command, including Rudolph Hess, were imprisoned. Each of the four military powers, Russian, British, American and French, served a month guarding the prison in rotation,” he said.
“Some of those officers only got 10 years. Hess, who was acquainted with the Duke of Hamilton, came to parlay with the British to seek pardon, flying his own plane to southern Scotland. He nearly ran out of fuel and crashed the plane, suffering a broken leg. A farm hand with a pitchfork found him and turned him in. He was sent to England and never got out of jail. I heard he hung himself in prison at the age of 93.”
When he joined Black Watch pipe band in the military, he described the experience as “very focused.”
The Black Watch First Battalion went to Korea shortly after their picture was taken in 1952. Some of them were killed and some were severely wounded in battle, including the pipe major.
“The last thing you heard at night was the pipes playing Lights Out and the first thing you heard in the morning was the tune to rouse the troops. You heard them all day long,” he explained.
“It was very intense. Pipers played for meal calls, “guard on” and “guard off,” and at the officers’ mess.
These tunes were played by a single piper — all of us non-NCOs all took turns.
“We also played as a band every day. We did Highland Dance for physical fitness: we were all expected to learn how.”
He explained that after 15 months in Berlin he went to a post near Hamburg for the rest of his term, returning to Scotland then to London to be de-militarized. Shortly after that he came to Canada.
Doug White and his grandson, Brock Everett sang at the Williams Lake Pipe Band Celtic Ceilidh last weekend.
“I didn’t know my grandfather because he lost his life in the war. My grandson is lucky because he has a grandfather in his life,” White said.
He said that it’s important to remember Canadians who left home and laid down their lives.
“It was exactly the same in Scotland. I knew fellows who got married two weeks before they were killed.
“You join and you serve for love of your country and for pride in your country. So many British immigrants to Canada left to go back and fight because it needed to be done. They just went and did it.
“We need to remember and we need to have pride,” he said. “If our country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.”