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IRISH FUSILIERS of Canada (the VANCOUVER REGIMENT)

 



the cap- and collar badges of the Irish Fusiliers of Canada (the Vancouver Regiment)


Embroidered shoulder title of the Irish Fusiliers of Canada


the "Saffron" kilt colour of the Irish Fusiliers of Canada

The 1st Battalion Irish Fusiliers (Vancouver Regiment) in 1942 received training for a pipe band. In late 1942, they were posted to Jamaica to serve as the Canadian Garrison Battalion, remaining there until posted overseas in 1944. In 1945, the Battalion was divided up between the Seaforths, Westminster, and Canadian Scottish.

The Irish band was transferred as a unit to HQ 1st Cdn. Army, to become, in effect, the personal band of General Crerar. Pipe Major Watt was promoted to WO 1 Pipe Major, which made him the highest ranked Pipe Major in the British Commonwealth and, at age 23, possibly the youngest. ,The band served in Holland, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.


The pipe band of the Irish Fusiliers at the inspection of the 2 Canadian Corps by General Guy Simonds.
May 31, 1945 Meppen, Germany. Do notice the (for that time) special concert position of the pipes and drums!


Marching behind Pipe major Ed Esson: Pipe major James Watt at the The Hague Victory Parade
n.b.: Ed Esson, leading the Canadian Massed Pipes & drums is also shown on both photographs!

Pipe Major Watt did NOT lead the Canadian Massed Pipes and Drums, although promoted to WO 1 Pipe Major, the highest PM in rank in the British Commonwealth and, at age 23, possibly the youngest (because Ed Esson of the Canadian Seaforths was the Senior PM).

His battalion, The Irish Fusiliers Of Canada (Vancouver) were used as replacements, divided up between the Canadian Seaforths, the Westminster regiment, and the Canadian Scottish regiment and the  Irish Fusiliers of Canada Pipe Band came overseas in 1944 as personal band of General Crerar, commander of the First Canadian army.

 

Pipe major James Watt
of the
Irish Fusiliers of Canada

His story was a totally different one:

James Watt started on the chanter under his father's tutelage when he was only eight years old. As he progressed, he took further instruction from Eric Thomson, who was involved with the North Vancouver Caledonian Society, and who was able to obtain for the boy a set of half-sized pipes which he used for about a year. In later years, James studied with Edmond Esson, Donald MacIver, and John Gillies.

Young James began competing in 1934, joined the British Columbia Pipers Association and the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada in 1936, served as the Official Piper to the North Vancouver Caledonian Society from 1938 to 1942, and played in amateur events until turning professional in 1941. When World War II broke out, he tried to enlist for overseas service, but the age limit had been raised to 19 so he had to serve at home as part of the Depot Battalion. He became part of an infamous group that was known as the "diapers." After two and a half years as an instructor with the Depot Battalion, James transferred to the 1st Battalion Irish Fusiliers (Vancouver Regiment) in 1942 for the purposes of training and leading a pipe band. He built the band from nothing, teaching some of the pipers from scratch. In late 1942, they were posted to Jamaica to serve as the Canadian Garrison Battalion, remaining there until posted overseas in 1944. Prior to going overseas, James was given a set of silver Henderson bagpipes by his mentor Donald MacIver.

While stationed in England, James attended courses at Edinburgh Castle under Pipe Major William Ross. In 1945, the Battalion was divided up between the Seaforths, Westminster, and Canadian Scottish.

The Irish band was transferred as a unit to HQ 1st Cdn. Army, to become, in effect, the personal band of General Crerar. Pipe Major Watt was promoted to WO 1 Pipe Major, which made him the highest ranked Pipe Major in the British Commonwealth and, at age 23, possibly the youngest. ,The band served in Holland, Germany, Belgium, and the United Kingdom.