20)    ROBBIE MCBEATH 4:28

 


November 20th 1917. World War 1 was raging in Europe. Entrenched in bitter warfare at the Battle of Cambria in France, a regiment of Seaforth Highlanders was pinned down by intense machine gun fire. Lance-Corporal Robert McBeath, from the small Sutherland village of Kinlochbervie, Scotland volunteered to attack the guns alone, armed only with a Lewis gun and revolver. Joined by a tank, McBeath attacked five machine gun nests in succession, capturing three officers and thirty enemy soldiers. For this heroic action Robert McBeath was awarded the Victoria Cross.


McBeath returned home to a hero's welcome. He married Barbara MacKay and soon after, immigrated to Vancouver, Canada, where he joined the Vancouver Police Department.


October 9th, 1922 Constable Robert McBeath was fatally shot while engaging in an arrest. McBeath's funeral was one of the largest ever in Vancouver history. All stores and banks were closed and thousands of attended to pay their respect. The procession took twenty minutes to pass, and was led by Vancouver Police Inspector George Hood on horseback. He was followed by the Vancouver Police Pipe Band, the widow Barbara, the mayor and council members, 300 Masons, 80 Vancouver Police, 100 Vancouver Fire Fighters, 12 Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 50 Seaforth Highlanders, a contingent of Irish Fusiliers, Several hundred WW1 veterans, 40 members of BC Electric Railway, 12 of the Canadian Pacific Police, several hundred members of the Foresters, St. Andrews, and Caledonia Societies.


 

To walk down the strand at Oldshoremore  
As the ships set out on the waves
Is to think of the bravest of Sutherland men
And all those who rest in their graves
For there’s many a lad that’s been washed on these shores
And many that’s ta’en (taken) to the depths
There’s many a lad that’s been lost to the wars
But never young Robbie McBeath

And where have you been, Robbie McBeath?
And where are you, my laddie-o?
Wha’s (who is) the cause of a’ Sutherland’s pride?
Wha but ye (who but you), laddie-o?


He signed himself up, though he’s only a lad
He’s gone with the Seaforths to France
He’s taken a run, with a big Lewis Gun
And he’s taught the Germans to dance


Now down tae (at) the palace he’s kenned tae (known to) the Queen
As broadly it’s kenned tae (known to) us all
That once he has given himself to a task
There’s none that can steer him awa’ (away)And where have you been, Robbie McBeath
And where are you, my laddie-o?
Wha’s (who is) the cause of a’ Sutherland’s pride
Wha but ye (who but you), laddie-o?


Now the flags are half-masted in Vancouver City
A sombre procession begins
To honour their Constable Robert McBeath
They’ve gathered in tribute to him
As you walk down the strand at Oldshoremore
As the sun sinks in to the west
Think on the bravest of Sutherland men
And of gallant young Robbie McBeath


And where have you been, young Robbie McBeath
And where are you, my laddie-o?
Wha’s (who is) the cause of all Vancouver’s pride
Wha but ye (who but you), laddie-o?
Wha’s (who is) the cause of a’ Sutherland’s pride
Wha but ye (who but you), laddie-o?

 

Music & lyrics by Bruce Coughlan (SOCAN)
Previously un-released


Bruce Coughlan
: vocals, acoustic guitar, whistle

Laurence Knight: acoustic bass
Nolan Murray: fiddle, mandolin
Joby Baker: drum kit, vocals
Bear Erikson: electric guitar, vocals


Vancouver Police Pipe Band
: with special thanks to Pipe Staff-Sergeant Jim McWilliams, Sandy Marshall, Ed Wagstaff and Noel Chalmers.


Bagpipes arranged by Jim McWilliams
Produced by Bruce Coughlan
Engineered by Joby Baker at Baker Studios, Victoria, BC

Additional recording by Ray Gerand, Vancouver, BC
Re-mastered by Joby Baker, Baker Studios, Victoria, BC.