Honouring hero piper 100 years on from his act of gallantry

Dan Richardson pays respect to his ancestor James Richardson.
Dan Richardson pays respect to his ancestor James Richardson.

A World War One hero from Bellshill has been honoured on the centenary of the gallant act that saw him awarded the Victoria Cross.

James Richardson, a piper in the 72nd Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, lost his life at the Somme on October 8, 1916, but 100 years later his memory still lives on.

During the Battle of the Ancre Heights his company was held up by barbed wire and came under intense fire. Piper Richardson strode up and down the wire playing his pipes, which so inspired the company the wire was rushed and the position captured.

Later he was detailed to take back a wounded comrade and some prisoners, but after proceeding some distance he insisted on turning back to recover his pipes which he had left behind and was never seen again.

Piper Richardson’s remains were found in 1920 and he is buried at Adanac Military Cemetery in France.

Three years before his death the then 17-year-old emigrated to Vancouver, but within a matter of months had volunteered to return to Europe to fight.

His fame in his adpoted homeland is such that he has a beer named after him, as well as many buildngs and a statue was erected in 2003.

His brother David’s grandson Dan Richardson visited to Bellshill as special memorial paving slab was laid during a cermony at the war memorial.

He said: “From a young age I remember there being ceremonies dedicated to Piper Richardson to put his name on the likes of senior residences, hospital wards, legions and halls and then later a beer was named after him to in British Columbia his memory was very much kept alive.

“I was already planning to visit his grave in France for the 100th anniversary and then I heard about the ceremony taking place in Bellshill so I thought I would combine the two trips and I am delighted to be able to visit the place he came from.

“I’m not sure that a lot of people realise he was from Bellshill, as he became a Canadian citizen almost immediately, but he spent 17 of his 20 years in Scotland.

“The stone is beautiful and I’m glad he is being recognised in this way and as it will help keep his memory alive for many. many years to come.”