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Highland Cathedral remembrance of MacLeod soldiers who fell in Northern Italy during World War I

Veneto Piping School, a pipe and drums school and band in the North of Italy who proudly wear the MacLeod tartan have in recent years begun to research and honour the presence of MacLeod soldiers who died in Italy during the World Wars of the 20th century and who are buried in Italian cemeteries tended by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

In 2022 and, most recently, on Saturday 21st October 2023, the piping school held remembrance services to pay tribute to two MacLeod soldiers who lie in different CWGC cemeteries, laying flowers at the graves and playing Scottish traditional tunes including the famous Highland Cathedral. Their moving ceremony can be seen on this short video which contains the words of Highland Cathedral, a tribute to the fallen. See the video on the ACMS YouTube channel above or click here

There is a land far from this distant shore
Where heather grows and Highland eagles soar
There is a land that will live ever more
Deep in my heart, my Bonnie Scotland …

The two soldiers commemorated in the remembrance service both fell in action in the last few months before the end of World War I. Private J McLeod of the Gordon Highlanders, who was from Aberdeen, died on 12th July 2018 at the age of 30 and is buried at Barenthal Military Cemetery near Asiago in Northern Italy.

Gunner William Findlay McLeod of the Royal Field Artillery, who was from Dundee, died on the 13th October 1918 at the age of 32, less than a month before the war ended, and is buried in Montecchio Precalcino Communal Cemetery, near Vicenza in Northern Italy.

The Veneto Piping School have adopted the MacLeod of Harris tartan for two reasons: firstly in gratitude towards Roddy MacLeod MBE, who for over twenty years has been present with his teachings and advice at the national gathering of Italian Bagpipe players and, secondly, in recognition of the importance that Clan MacLeod has attached to bagpipers since the 14th century. For these reasons, many of the pipers of Veneto Piping School have become affiliated the Clan MacLeod Society of Scotland in recent years.

In the words of Silvia of the Veneto piping School: “We played traditional tunes and read the lyrics of Highland Cathedral both in English and translated into Italian, to let everyone understand the meaning and perceive the emotions of those words. I have to admit that, being myself the reader, I had to stop a couple of times with my voice broken because I was so moved. What the lyrics describe – the highlands, the heather, the distance from home, the proud spirit of those young soldiers – was in front of our own eyes… I wish everyone could participate in such a commemoration to understand the value of memory to preserve peace, especially in these days”.

With grateful thanks to Silvia Cuccarolo and all members of the Veneto Piping School for sharing these poignant and heartfelt  moments with Clan MacLeod.