Third-generation soldier remembers grandfather’s contribution in First World War


WATCH: Military service often runs in the family, including the story of three generations of soldiers that have served in the same regiment here in Victoria. The Drysdale family has fought in the First World War and Second World War, as well as Afghanistan, as part of the Canadian Scottish Regiment in Victoria. Kori Sidaway has more.

At Victoria’s Canadian Scottish Regiment, history runs deep.

“So these were the Highlanders, the men actually wore the kilt,” said Jack Drysdale, a piper in the unit.

When touring the Canadian Scottish Museum, First World War soldiers smile through grainy black and white photographs. The pictures make them feel far away, but they were sons, partners and fathers only a generation ago.

“He didn’t talk about it much, but it was very apparent that he suffered a bit of the war,” said Drysdale.

One hundred years ago to this day, Drysdale’s grandfather was fighting on the front lines of the First World War.

“I remember one of the stories he told me, when they had to dig some of the trenches in where there was a previous battle, they gave them rum,” said Drysdale.

“Because there were a lot of bodies there from a year before and it was probably the best way to get them to live with what they were doing.”

Regardless of that trauma, military service became the family trade.

“I joined in 1970, so there’s been three generations in this regiment that served,” said Drysdale.

Drysdale followed in his grandfather and father’s footsteps in the Canadian Scottish Regiment, first as a cadet, then as the piper.

“The pipes were very important, very inspiring, to get the men very motivated,” said Drysdale.

And in 2015, Drysdale travelled to retrace his grandfather’s steps in the First World War.

“The feeling of playing the bagpipes right on Vimy Ridge, to on play some of the battlefields some of these soldiers won the Victoria Cross on, it’s very chilling to be able to play the pipes in those exact spots they did it in the first world war,” said Drysdale.

Because for Drysdale, the faces staring out from the black and white pictures that remain from the First World War, aren’t far away at all.

“The freedoms we have today are thanks to the sacrifices of the men. So it’s very important to remember,” said Drysdale.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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