November 2021     Title   Past Issues

In this Issue:

  November Gathering   Your Society Needs You
  October's Lochiel Event   RAF Cadet Memorial
  George Findlater, Piper   Snippets from Scotland
  Scotland's Hidden Gems   A Word from our Advertisers

November Gathering

Black Friday means two things for most of us – recovering from Thanksgiving and avoiding the madness of the shops.

This year we are planning a Black Friday event in Phoenix City Centre which will take the form of a short pub crawl plus good food - well away from any stores or shopping malls.

Details of the event on Friday, 26 November, are still being thrashed out and full details will be posted on the Caledonian Society website and Facebook page as soon as possible.

October's Lochiel Event

Our Scotoberfest day out at Lochiel Bar in Mesa proved a resounding success with around 50 people in attendance. It was out best-attended event since the onset of Covid and hopefully a sign that future events will prove equally popular.

Lochiel Brewing

Those who came along enjoyed brats and buns in keeping with the German theme; as well as cookies and cupcakes; and of course, plenty of good beer provided by our host Ian Cameron. Lochiel has been one of our go-to bars in the Valley for several years.

A successful raffle was held - congratulations to all the winners and thanks to everyone for buying tickets.

We hope to have similar events lined up in the coming months.

George Findlater, Piper

The story of a Scottish regimental hero who inspired his colleagues by playing the pipes on the field of battle

The history of the Gordon Highlanders is littered with acts of battlefield bravery and for centuries they were renowned as among the most feared fighting units in the British Army. Ironically, however, the regiment’s most celebrated “son“, Piper George Findlater, the Hero of Dargai, won the Victoria Cross not for his fighting prowess, but for playing his bagpipes on the battlefield after having been shot by the enemy.

George Findlater was, like most Gordons, a native of rural Aberdeenshire, having been born near Turriff. In 1888, at the age of 16, he left home to join the regiment’s 2nd Battalion. By 1897 he had been promoted to Piper and was serving in the north-west frontier of India (now Pakistan), where the army was struggling to contain attacks by Afridi and Orakzai tribesmen.

For the British to advance, they had to take the Heights Of Dargai, a strategic position which tribesmen were using to launch fierce and murderous attacks. The Derbyshire and Dorsetshire regiments and the Gurkhas had suffered heavy casualties before the Gordon Highlanders were called upon to take the hill.

As the Gordons stormed the Heights, they were led by five pipers, including Findlater. He was hit twice in the left ankle, then an enemy bullet blew away part of his. The blood from his wounds stained his kilt red but he was propped up against a rock by colleagues and continued to pipe them into battle. Findlater piped the tune Haughs O’ Cromdale as he sank into semi-consciousness and won the admiration of his men, who were so spurred on by his actions that they took the hill in 40 minutes.

Findlater spent weeks in hospital in Rawalpindi but when news of his exploits reached Britain, it caused a sensation. He was awarded the Victoria Cross, presented to him personally by Queen Victoria at Netley Hospital in Southampton. The carpenter’s son from Aberdeenshire was a national celebrity and hundreds queued to glimpse or shake the hand of the Hero of Dargai.

But the story of George Findlater does not end with his military heroics. Shortly after receiving his VC he accepted 25 guineas a night to appear on stage at the Alhambra Theatre in London and was such a hit that he became a regular performer. One newspaper noted that he was earning 15 times as much as the President of the Swiss Republic.

He engaged a manager and was soon a star of the music hall circuit, cashing in on his fame to augment his meagre military pension. The concerts, however, met with the disapproval of the War Office, who regarded Findlater’s behaviour as opportunist. A special debate was held in the House of Commons during which it was claimed that the concerts were “repugnant to military feeling”

Although he lost some public sympathy, Findlater focused attention on the plight of soldiers whose bravery had forced them out of service and the government increased pensions given to soldiers decorated for bravery.

After the First World War George Findlater farmed near Turriff until his death in 1942. The Gordon Highlanders were amalgamated with the Queen’s Own Highlanders in 1994 to form a new regiment, The Highlanders.

Scotland's Hidden Gems - Orkney
Iain Lundy, Editor

The Orkney Islands – all 67 of them - lie off the far north mainland of Scotland across a stretch of water known as the Pentland Firth. The islands are low-lying, exposed to the elements, and steeped in history both ancient and modern.

The islands were under Norwegian rule until 1468 when they became part of Scotland. Even to this day, Norway refuses to formally recognize Orkney as being part of Scotland. However, even the Norwegians were relative newcomers to Orkney; some of the archaeological finds on the islands point to a civilization going back to Neolithic times.

Discoveries of Neolithic tombs on one of the islands, Rousay, have been in such high numbers that the island is known as the Egypt of the North.

Standing Stones of Stenness

Perhaps the most stunning of all ancient skites on Orkney are two large stone circles, within a half mile of each other, The Ring of Brodgar, and the Standing Stones of Stenness. The circles are thought to date from between 3000 BC and 2500 BC and the prevailing belief is that they were built to worship sun gods, although no-one really knows for sure.

Skara Brae

A few miles away sits the ancient village of Skara Brae, which was uncovered by a huge storm in 1850. It revealed a network of houses, which rooms which contains, hearths, beds and dressers. For a peek into how people from a different age lived, Skara Brae is a must-see attraction.

Italian Curch

There is one other essential visitor attraction which dates only to World War 2. The stunning Italian Chapel, constructed from an old tin Nissan hut, was built by Italian prisoners of war who were being kept on Orkney. The final touches were put to the chapel just before they were freed. It is on the island of Lamb Holm.

There are several ways of getting to Orkney. Planes fly to Kirkwall Airport from Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. There is an overnight service from Aberdeen and shorter ferry crossings from three small harbors on the north coast. You'll be amazed at how much there is to see and do.

Your Society Needs You

As a totally volunteer organization, the Caledonian Society of Arizona depends on folks like you stepping up to serve in Board positions, many Area Chairs for Highland Games activities, and numerous support roles leading up to, during and after the Games event.

Some of our members have been in such positions for a number of years, and frankly, are not getting any younger. And the recent passing of Don Finch has deprived us of a vital contributor.

We need new blood - we need young blood – to help continue over half a century of supporting Scottish and Celtic life here in our community. Please consider how you can get involved – we need you!

There are many in the Celtic community - athletes, musicians, dancers, Clan members, folks from other Celtic groups, to name a few – who participate in our Games and other events. Although this is not a membership drive, we ask for increased support from all our friends, supporters and participants whether a paid member or not.

Please reach out to Society President David McBee to discuss how you can contribute:

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RAF Cadet Memorial

#4 British Flying Training School There will, as always, be a contingent from the Caledonian Society at the annual memorial service for the 24 British RAF and American fighter pilot trainees who died while training at Mesa’s Falcon Field during World War 2 with the 4 British Flying Training School.

The unit was formed in Egypt in 1921 and the pyramid and palm tree have reference to that first location of the school.

The event takes place at 10.45am on Sunday 14 November. CSA President David McBee will be in attendance as will members of the Scottish American Military Society (SAMS) and the Mesa Caledonian Pipe Band.

The event, at Mesa Cemetery, 1212 North Center Street, Mesa, is expected to last an hour, and we would encourage as many Society members as possible to go along and pay their respects.

Snippets from Scotland

Snippet from The BBC

A statue has been unveiled of a German Shepherd dog that helped his Scottish soldier handler from drowning in World War 2. The memorial to Khan is in the Lanarkshire town of Strathaven.

Snippet from The Scotsman

A spectacular building that graced the grand 1930s Empire Exhibition held in Glasgow has been saved – after spending years as a workers’ canteen at an explosives factory.

And another Snippet from The Press and Journal

The first bottle of the world’s oldest single malt Scotch whisky, casked at Glenlivet Distillery on Speyside in 1940, has been sold for £142,000 to the environmental charity Trees for Life.

A Word from our Advertisers

Kilt Rental USA

Len Wood

Micahel McClanathan
Bagpiper USB

Lois Wallace card


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