As dawn breaks on Sunday November 11th, the centenary of the end of the First World War, the solitary figure of Gordon’s School Piper Edward Lee will play the lone piper lament ‘Battle’s O’er’ at the top of the Tower of Guildford Cathedral.
Seventeen year old Edward, now in his final year at the school in West End, Woking is one of 1,000 pipers from across the country playing this haunting melody, a traditional Scottish air played after battle. Each piper will be based in individual locations within their communities. At the same time a specially written tribute will be read out.
The event marks the start of a day in which countries from around the world such as New Zealand, Ireland, Australia, France, Belgium, Canada and Germany will join in commemorating Battle’s Over.
The lone pipers will be followed that night by buglers sounding the Last Post at more than 1,000 locations before beacons are lit to signify the light of peace that emerged from the darkness of four years of war.
A piper for the past six years, Edward is now in his final year at the school in West End, Woking which has, since its inception over a century ago, always boasted Pipes and Drums. Edward has led them at many of the eight parades performed every year as well as the annual Whitehall Parade
Edward, a boarder at Gordon’s, took up the bagpipes when he joined the school and soon rose up the ranks of the marching musicians, becoming Pipe Sergeant.
The lament is one he knows well, having played it many times with the rest of the 30-strong pipers in the school’s iconic band. They have performed at many events including the Woking Festival and the Passing Out Parade at Pirbright. They will also take part in the Lest We Forget Concert in Birmingham; the Concert for Peace at GLive and with the Red Hot Chili Pipers.
But the lament at the top of Guildford Cathedral will be particularly special for him: “I’ve never done anything like this before. It will be exciting” he said, adding: “It’s a great opportunity to take part in the centenary anniversary.” Furthermore, it will be especially poignant as his great-great-grandfather, who served in the Durham Light Infantry was killed in the Somme, along with his three great-great-great uncles.
Later that day he will join the rest of the school and parents for a special Remembrance Parade and Service where wreaths will be laid for Gordonians killed in conflicts. Poppies inscribed with each of their names will be placed alongside the statue of General Gordon that looks out over the school’s playing fields.
Deputy Head Rob Pavis commented: “We are proud to be playing a part in this historic international event to commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War, and to recognise the contribution and sacrifice made by students from Gordon’s as well as the men and women from the wider community. “
Battle’s Over – A Nation’s Tribute has been devised and planned by Pageantmaster Bruno Peek. He has organised major royal celebrations and international events for more than 36 years and has been working on Battle’s Over for more than four years.
“It’s wonderful to see the event being embraced by so many organisations and communities in this country and around the world. The centenary of the end of the Great War is an opportunity to acknowledge the enormous sacrifice made the millions of men and women who died or were wounded, as well as those who worked tirelessly at home in our fields and factories. It has been a privilege to work on this project with the support of so many amazing organisations” he said.