Everything's Louder With Bagpipes
"A gentleman is someone who knows
how to play the bagpipes but
"Why do bagpipers always walk when they play? To get away from the noise."
— Traditional Jokes
Bagpipes are fantastic instruments, if you know how to play them. Hearing somebody unskilled learning to play bagpipes, though, is just as painful as media makes it out to be. Also, a lot less painful outdoors than inside, as they are also quite
loud. How loud? Well, if the wind is in the right direction and you listen a bit, you can hear the buskers on Edinburgh's Royal Mile from a couple of miles away. Since the original bagpipes, as well as the modern Great Highland Bagpipe originally were signaling instruments, meant to be heard over the sounds of a couple thousand dudes banging at each other with bits of metal, one can argue that this is the point. Other types of bagpipes have different, less screechy sounds.
The origins of the Great Highland Bagpipe are Shrouded in Myth
. The oldest known fragment of a Great Highland Bagpipe is a remnant of a set alleged played by Clan Menzies at the Battle of Bannockburn, but this claim is disputed. The earliest concrete evidence for the use of bagpipes is a written account of the Battle of the North Inch of Perth (or Battle of the Clans), which mentions the use of "warpipes". The first example of a specifically "highland" version appears in the 1549 work The Complaynt of Scotland
. It is a persistent but untrue myth that the bagpipes were banned by the Act of Proscription 1746. Both persecution by Government forces and mass emigration/deportation to British colonies during the following decades led to a decline in the instrument, but the discovery that Highlanders made excellent shock troops
led to a revival. Pipes were carried into combat during the Battle of Assaye, the The Duke of Wellington
's first independent command, where he destroyed a European-trained Maharatha army nearly seven times his numbers. Throughout the 19th century, pipers were a common feature of Scottish attacks. In World War One
, the pipes were used early on, but heavy casualties led to the end of the practice. Daniel Laidlaw won the Victoria Cross for piping his faltering company out a trench during a German gas attack
during the Battle of Loos. War piping made a brief revival during D-Day, when William Millin piped the 1 Special Service Brigade onto Sword Beach. The last use of bagpipes during a combat situation in the British Army was during the 1967 Aden Emergency, where the 1st Btn Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders occupied the Crater district of Aden without a single casualty, something High Command thought impossible.
Though there are many kinds of bagpipes used in traditional music throughout Europe, North Africa and the Caucasus, in fiction you almost never see anything but the Great Highland Bagpipe; just take a look at The Other Wiki on the subject.
They have a nifty list of songs with bagpipes as well.
Most often used for a Regional Riff
of Scotland. Also see Loud of War
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Anime & Manga
- The extended version of the Vision of Escaflowne opening theme has bagpipes. And they are awesome.
- The Crowning Music of Awesome from Heat Guy J is Epic Rocking on the pipes. Kind of appropriate given J's signature cooling pipes.
- Word of God has it that the bagpipes were chosen because Kazuki Akane thought it was a Rated M for Manly instrument, and J is always bringing up what it means to be a man. ("A man should ______.")
- Little Wing, the JAM Project-produced opening to Scrapped Princess, opens with bagpipes and has a short interlude with them in the full version of the song. The result is predictable.
- The second season opening of the Ah! My Goddess TV series. Yes, the goddesses are nominally Norse, not Celtic. Nobody cares, it sounds awesome.
- What does Celtic has to do with it? Read The Other Wiki's article again— There are types of bagpipes from Scandinavia as well (though none from Norway, but that's splitting hairs on the definition of "Norse").
- "Colosseum", from Noir.
- Claymore has a bagpipe motif for Clare. Because Clare is so badass that only bagpipes are good enough for her motif. Like here.
- The first ending theme of Pokémon Best Wishes uses bagpipes, though you might not notice because of the adorable sight of Pokabu blowing into them.
- Aramaki's Theme in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex features bagpipes in its second half.
- Bagpipes are used quite a bit in the soundtrack to Spice and Wolf.
- England/The UK's versions of Marukaite Chikyuu and Hattafutte Parade contain surprisingly good bagpipes. Technically, they're Scottish, but Iggy apparently represents the whole UK at World Meetings, and Scotland has only ever been alluded to.
- A strange place to find them, but when the chorus and the musical bridge of the ED of Ragnarok: The Animation, Alive plays, you can hear bagpipes as an accompaniment. It's also obvious during the ending as they're one of the last instruments to fade out.
- Fairy Tail's soundtrack aims for mix of celtic/folk mixed with heavy metal, and as such bagpipes are featured in several tracks, including the main theme.
- In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, the historical army summoned by the witch to fight off Those Wacky Nazis include a bagpipe player.
- In The Dark Knight, bagpipes are played at the memorial service for Commissioner Loeb.
- Army of Darkness featured the undead army of death marching complete with drum, flute and bagpipes.
- In The Departed, bagpipes are played when the main characters graduate from the police academy and again at the funeral.
- In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Scotty plays "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes at Spock's funeral.
- LA Story. A freeway sign electronically plays "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.
- The French comedy movie The Tall Blond Man with a Black Shoe has a scene where a character accidentally sits on a bagpipe, with predictable results. The bagpipe then proceeds to haunt the poor guy.
- At the end of the Hong Kong film Infernal Affairs (which The Departed is based on), there are bagpipe players at a funeral.
- Braveheart of course, set in Scotland. They use Irish pipes, though.Word of God on the DVD commentary says they tried Scottish pipes at first but decided the Irish pipes sounded better.
- The 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers has a scene involving "Amazing Grace" on bagpipes.
- The score for How to Train Your Dragon heavily features bagpipes, especially in "Test Drive"
- In The World Is Not Enough Q Labs is shown testing some bagpipes with a machine gun concealed in one of the drones.
- Casino Royale (1967) also has Ursula Andress' character using a bagpipe/machine gun on a corps of pipers attacking Peter Sellers, and then on him.. Early in the movie, agents playing M's widow and daughters try to corrupt Bond (David Niven) at a funeral fling with piping, drinking, and dancing, but he ends up the last person standing.
- In So I Married an Axe Murderer, Mike Myers' character's wedding party has his dad (also Myers) singing "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" accompanied by bagpipes. When the old player drops, dad announces "We have a piper down!"
- The Gordon Highlanders are very prominent in Waterloo, performing a bagpipe-accompanied dance at the Duchess of Richmond's ball and later fighting in the battle. A regimental piper gets it from a French cavalryman.
- Seriously? No mention of Dead Poets Society? Half of Keating's Triumph is bagpipes!
- The Rundown has Beck's bush pilot sidekick, Declan (who appears to be from Northern Ireland, though he is played by a Scottish actor) play Highland Pipes on the outskirts of Hatcher's town, then deliver a bizarre sermon warning Hatcher of the coming judgment. He then resumes playing, until a herd of cattle stampede through the town.
- Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me - Fat Bastard, an infiltrator in the Scots Guards, plays a bagpipe that emits knockout gas, and contains tools used to extract the frozen Austin's mojo.
- Help! - The Beatles once again run afoul of the pursuing Eastern thug cult at the London riverfront, disguised as a Highland band, with a bagpipe that spews sacrificial red paint.
Live Action TV
- Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell II: Back Into Hell features bagpipes at the end of "Everything Louder Than Everything Else", because Everything's Louder With Bagpipes!
- The Wicked Tinkers' third CD was simply called "Loud".
- "Scotland the Brave", one of Scotland's unofficial national anthems.
- Xera, an Asturian folk-techno band, has a gaitanote player. They are indeed epic.
- Korn uses bagpipes on most of their albums. Lead singer Jonathan Davis plays the instrument.
- "In The Big Country", by Big Country. Anything by Big Country really; their sound was based on making guitars sound like bagpipes
- Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells (side 2) has guitars imitating bagpipes. The equivalent passage in Tubular Bells II uses the real thing.
- His track "Tattoo" is a bagpipe track that simply cannot be played loud enough.
- Rock music with Irish/Scottish instruments is a pretty popular music genre in certain circles, so there are plenty of bands that have a designated bagpipes player. Enter the Haggis, for example, emphasize the use of bagpipes in their music.
- "You're The Voice" by John Farnham.
- "Under the Milky Way," by Church features an e-bow imitating bagpipes.
- Punk band Dropkick Murphys has a bagpipe player in the lineup.
- Nicknamed Spicy McHaggis!
- Their Scottish-Canadian fellow folk-punkers The Real McKenzies also make use of bagpipers on many tracks.
- "March of the Cambreadth" by Heath Alexander. The bagpipes are really only icing on the cake for it, but still...
- The song "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earle has simulated bagpipes. And it is Awesome.
- The soundtrack for Riverdance features a cousin of the bagpipes, the Uilleann pipes (a sort of tenor bagpipe).
- The Most Unwanted Music makes liberal use of bagpipes in an attempt to produce the most unlistenable piece of pop music ever composed. The result is so bad it's AWESOME.
- The Red Hot Chilli Pipers play a mixture of traditional pipe tunes, pop and rock tunes like "We Will Rock You", and original stuff like "Celtic Bolero". They call it "Bagrock".
- "It's a Long Way to the Top" by AC/DC. Played by Bon Scott, no less!
- It's so awesome that Brian Johnson, who succeeded Scott as the band's lead singer, refuses to sing the song, since it was considered Scott's signature song.
- When AC/DC first got the idea, Bon Scott was under the impression that Angus Young could play the bagpipes. Young replied, "No, I said I was in a highland bagpipe band. I played the drums!"
- When Corporation Lane in Melbourne (near Swanston Street, where the song's video was filmed) was renamed ACDC Lane in 2004 (according to Melbourne law street names can't include slashes), the official ceremony ended with this song being played by bagpipers.
- Swiss Celtic Metal band Eluveitie have a piper among their number, using a traditional Galacian design.
- UK-based Heavy Metal band Hell use bagpipes in the beginning (sampled) and on the bridge of the song "Macbeth." Understandable, considering what the song is based on.
- Grave Digger's album Tunes of War, which is based on wars between Scotland and England have bagpipes played by the band Subway To Sally. The album even opens with metal rendition of Scotland the Brave.
- Running Wild's epic "Battle of Waterloo" opens with bagpipes.
- Blind Guardian has used bagpipes now and then, most obviously on the title track from Somewhere Far Beyond and its intro track, aptly titled The Piper's Calling.
- "Mull of Kintyre" by Wings. A paean to Paul McCartney's longtime residence (a home and recording studio in Argyll and Bute, Scotland), the 1977 recording features bagpipes from Kintyre's local Campbeltown Pipe Band.
- Lenahan's "Nothin'" is blues bagpipes.
- The german Medieval Rock band In Extremo make use of the Marktsackpfeife, a german bagpipe about as loud as the traditional scottish one.
- The group MacUmba plays music that's a fusion of bagpipes and Brazilian Samba drums. Listen here
- The song "Gimme the Prize" by Queen has a brief instrumental section that's clearly meant to be evocative of bagpipes; not surprising, since the song originates in the first Highlander film.
- Composer/humorist Peter Schikele utilizes bagpipes to comic effect in some of his P.D.Q Bach works; most notably in the Pervertimento for Bicycle, Bagpipes, and Balloons (which subverts the "louder" aspect in one movement by using the wheezy practice chanter), but also in a Sinfonia Concertante in which the bagpipes player executes florid, highly embellished mock-Baroque passages, while completely drowning out the other much softer solo instruments, such as a lute. (As Schickele is fond of saying when he introduces the piece, "It's a lovely lute.....think of it while you're listening to the bagpipes.")
- The "Scallion Song" of Hatsune Miku was originally a scottish marching tune during the reign of James I.
- The liner notes for Great Big Sea's album Fortune's Favour contains this gem: "There are no bagpipes in the studio, but there are some on Heart of Stone. We suspect Bob is responsible."
- Wizzard's 'Are you ready to rock?' mixes rock & roll and bagpipes. Yes, really. And it's AWESOME.
- Neutral Milk Hotel's "Ghost" and "Untitled" both make superb use of bagpipes, plus trumpet, trombone, theremin, zanzithophone...
- "Come Talk To Me," the opening track off Peter Gabriel's album Us, features bagpipes — as well as an Armenian doudouk, a Russian women's choir, and Sinead O'Connor on backing vocals, and manages to make it all work together.
- Another guitar-imitating-bagpipe example: Slade's "Run Runaway". Furthermore, the video was loaded with Scottish imagery.
- "Bagpipes (That's My Bag)" by Ray Stevens. He uses his voice to imitate one.
- Almost any recording by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
- Bonaparte's Retreat - the version by Glen Campbell.
- And of course, there's Rufus Harley, quite possibly the only prominent jazz musician to choose the Great Highland Bagpipes as his primary instrument. How good was he? Well, he was able to record jazz-funk songs without sounding like a novelty act.
- One season of America's Got Talent featured The Badpiper, a punk piper who played AC/DC on the bagpipes.
- Johnny Bagpipes is a stand-up comedian who incorporates bagpiping into his routine. One of his anecdotes had him get revenge on a bunch of loud frat guys staying in the hotel room next to his by being even louder, imitating a fire alarm and related sirens on the pipes at 6 the following morning.
- The song, "Dream" by Forest For the Trees.
- Battlefield Band have had a dozen different pipers over their 40+year history. Sometimes they have two at once. Do not sit in the front row at one of their concerts.
- Averted by Loreena Mckennitt, who uses the Uilleann pipes(an Irish variant that uses a bellows to inflate the bag instead of the player's breath, and has only three drone pipes instead of five) on her albums and in concert, partly because they are much quieter than Highland pipes.
- Laurie Anderson's Breakup Song "Sweaters" has a spare arrangement of Anderson's voice, the above-mentioned Rufus Harley's bagpipes, and drums.
- One strip of Drabble shows the dad reacting in horror to someone just off-panel, as if the unseen man had a weapon. ("I don't think he sees us. Just back away very slowly...") The final panel reveals the source of the threat to be a bagpipes player; dad breaks into a run as the man begins playing.
- In Warhammer Fantasy Battle, a night goblin hero can use a set of enchanted 'squigpipes'. Their music is so horrible it panics enemy horses.
- In Diana: Warrior Princess, bagpipes are weapons only usable by druids.
- An item in Munchkin Cthulhu. It gives a hefty +4 bonus (on the level of some pretty fatal weaponry, like a combine harvester or a flamethrower), but with an unfortunate caveat that monsters may mistake its audio and appearance and think it's something they can mate with.
- In some WW2 wargaming rule-sets, especially those set in North Africa, the presence of bagpipes on the Commonwealth side is a negative factor on German and Italian morale, as once the Axis soldiers start to hear bagpipes on the breeze, they know exactly what's going to come next - lots and lots of fight-crazy Scotsmen who have been psyched up for a fight.
- Indeed, Revell (German) and Italeri/ESCI (Italian), manufacturers of 20mm figures for wargaming, both include bagpipers in their WW2 British Infantry sets - a sure indication that the terror of Scottish soldiers lives on, over sixty years after the end of the war. It must have done something to the psyche of the former enemy...
- Brigadoon has two bagpipers on stage for Harry's funeral procession, playing a traditional Scottish melody. Only one bagpipe is actually played, though: two would be too loud.
- Cats has a bagpipe sequence in the midst of "The Pekes and the Pollicles." Hilarious, too.
- Advance Wars Days of Ruin's CO Gage/Trak's theme song Proud Soldier has bagpipe sounding sections and is awesome.
- "Relm's Theme" from Final Fantasy VI.
- Relm's Theme might actually be considered a subversion of this, because the song itself is a very mellow and quiet tune, with the bagpipes only accenting one part of it.
- "Different Word Ivalice" from Final Fantasy Tactics Advance.
- Servants of the Mountain from Final Fantasy X. The bagpipes come in at the end of the loop.
- The town theme for San d'Oria in Final Fantasy XI features loud bagpipes that usually frighten and scare off people entering the town for the first time.
- The theme for the Wings Of The Goddess 20 years ago version of San d'Oria also features bagpipes, but they are more reserved.
- In Wizardry 7 one of musical instruments is bagpipes that produce Terror spell. Wizardry 8 adds three more — with Shrill Sound (damage), Hex (bad luck), and Pandemonium (fear and possible insanity).
- The Total War series has bagpipes in almost every incarnation (aside from Samurai). The Barbarian Victory theme music in Medieval and its expansion was a particular Crowning Music of Awesome, but it is also very noticeable in Medieval II when playing as the Scots, of course, and in Empire. Slightly weird when your Russian troops are steamrolling over the Balkans, but awesome nonetheless.
- However, frustratingly enough, bagpipes were never featured in-game, which is quite historically inaccurate (especially for Scottish, Polish, Georgian, Celtic French, etc. factions and regiments).
- Cold Sniper, Gage's theme from Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, has them in the background, as well as some great violin.
- "bag" from Dance Dance Revolution. It's also a possible That One Level due to the fact that the song scrolls at a ridiculously-slow 65 beats per minute, meaning if you don't play with speed modifiers, the notes will be really scrunched up, making the song near-impossible to read without some memorization.
- Worms World Party had the intro theme played partly on bagpipes.
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has "Sad Monster" for the final boss' first form.
- The Demoman's theme, Drunken Pipe Bomb, uses the bagpipes. Also, the end of the Meet The Demoman has the Team Fortress 2 ending riff played on bagpipes.
- Bagpipes also play in DeGroot Keep every time Points A and B are captured and open the gate leading into the castle. The song is in fact the British victory music from another Valve game, Day of Defeat.
- The credits theme for Touhou Hisoutensoku features bagpipes.
- Mount & Blade: Warband mod Mount & Musket: Batallion features the Piper as an actual class for the United Kingdom. They don't get a weapon, just their pipes. And they still win battles.
- The "Warpipes" theme from The Lord of the Rings Online, used for skirmish battles in The Shire. It's a quite suitably awesome battle theme.
- The music for the "Granny Chair" bonus level in Earthworm Jim 2.
- Occasionally heard in Age of Empires 2, thanks to the inclusion of a Celtic Civilization.
- In NiGHTS Into Dreams, bagpipes (or something sounding like them) can be heard in the track, "Suburban Museum", the theme to the Soft Museum stage.
- In Dragon Age: Origins, the Grey Wardens sound the alarm with an impressive cadence of bagpipes in their themed motif.
- The soundtrack of the Howling Fjords area in World of Warcraft, based on Viking culture, features bagpipes.
- In Girl Genius, Sleipner has turned a set of bagpipes into a flamethrower-ish weapon she calls the "Hot Pipes" in this strip.
- In an episode of League of Super Evil, Red Menace's bagpipe playing causes Voltar and Frogg to run away.
- Bagpipes pop up every now and then in Rocko's Modern Life.
- On South Park, when little baby Ike's Faking the Dead, a piper shows up at his funeral to play Hava Nagila - apparently, the only Jewish music he knows. Everyone plugs their ears right before he starts.
- Dave the Barbarian had the Gargle Pipes, which Dave played non-stop to get back at Princess Candy, who was being a total slave-driver towards her brother. She comments that they're loud enough to wake the dead, but Dave disagrees. It turns out she's kind of right about that, because Quasmir awakens due to the Gargle Pipes.
- In the Looney Tunes cartoon "My Bunny Lies Over The Sea," Bugs pops up in Scotland looking for the La Brea tar pits. He then sees a guy in a kilt playing bagpipes and thinks it's a monster attacking an old lady, so he rips up the bagpipes, making the Scotsman angry at him. At the end of the cartoon, Bugs "beats" him at the pipes by using them as a one-bunny-band (he sticks other musical instruments like trumpets in the openings of the pipes).
- DuckTales: Scrooge McDuck plays the bagpipes. Poorly, judging by how other characters react. Also, used by Burger Beagle in "Full Metal Duck"note to "torture" some hostages.
- At the end of a segment in Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas, Scrooge gets a set of bagpipes for Christmas. Santa even sent Huey, Dewey and Louie earplugs.
- In the Futurama episode "The Sting", Scruffy plays "Walking on Sunshine" on bagpipes for Fry's funeral, as a parody of Spock's funeral from the aforementioned Wrath of Khan.
- In the old seasons of Thomas the Tank Engine And Friends, Donald and Douglas' leitmotif was played on bagpipes supplemented by drums and flute, because of their Scottish origin.
- In Earthworm Jim, when Bob the Killer Goldfish fails to awaken the Antifish by pounding on his eyelid with a Hyperspace Mallet, a marching band bass drum/trumpet comb, and detonating dynamite sticks jammed in the monster's mouth, he declares that they need a noise so horrible it can wake the dead. His next line? "#4! Fetch... the bagpipes!" And then it has absolutely no effect on the Antifish, either.
- Samurai Jack: The only recurrent character besides the titular samurai and Aku is the behemoth Scotsman who has a penchant for the pipes. They're heard long before he and Jack actually meet face to face. Actually becomes a plot critical ability during a later episode, where the pipes manage to drown out the mind controlling song of some Enthralling Sirens.
- The leitmotif of Duff Killigan on Kim Possible.
- In The Garfield Show, there was one episode where Jon brought an accordion and started playing it. Garfield said accordions were the second worst kind of musical instrument ever (losing only to bagpipes). Guess which instrument Jon brings at the end of the episode.
- Home Movies - a rival soccer team has a bagpiper (though it sounds like a synthesizer) whose music drives Coach Mc Guirk to tears - he later confesses to Brendon that he'd been a competitive Scottish Highland Dancer as a child.
- The original 1977 pilot for Danger Mouse, "The Mystery Of The Lost Chord," dealt with the disappearance of a flock of bagpipes by Baron Greenteeth (Greenback's original name) for him to use their collective drone to create a destruction ray. The episode was retooled in 1981 as "Who Stole The Bagpipes?"
- In the short, "My Brilliant Revenge!" from the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Fox Trot", Plucky practices his bagpipes to get into the Acme All-Bagpipe band. His practicing drowns out Hamton's favorite show, "Swine Search" on TV, a show he has been waiting all year to see. After missing the entire show due to Plucky's practicing, he destroys Plucky's bagpipes in a fit of rage. At the end of the cartoon, it is revealed that Hamton taped the show.
- In many Commonwealth nations (and a few that aren't!), pipe & drum bands are the musical outlet of police and military organizations.
- 'Fighting' Jack Churchill was the one of the most Bad Ass officers in WWII, leading his men with a sword in his belt and more than once, pipes under his arm. His last commando raid ended badly with him being wounded by mortar shrapnel: he insisted on being propped up against a wall and proceeded to play his bagpipes to encourage the defenders until the position was overrun and he was captured.
- A few years ago, a burglary in Scotland was foiled because the householder had stowed his bagpipes under the window the luckless criminal chose as his point of entry.
- The College of Wooster, whose mascot is the Fighting Scot, boasts a Wooster Pipe Band consisting solely of several bagpipes and one drummer (an impressive feat for a rather small school). The Pipe Band appears at football games as well as more formal and official school functions. If you go to this school, not only will you have the tune of the school song, "Scotland the Brave," memorized within three or four months thanks to these guys, you will also consider it to be one of the most epic songs ever. The band even appeared in a Coca-Cola ad.
- There are few police or firefighter funerals (especially for those killed on the job) that don't feature at least one piper playing Amazing Freaking Grace. Cue the Manly Tears.
- A few music teachers teach by having their students play percussion while he/she plays bagpipes. In the same small room. The purpose of the exercise is to understand rhythm, although you get the feeling that this isn't strictly necessary.
- Bagpipes in confined spaces are so loud that pipers are advised to wear ear protection when playing them indoors.
- Highland Park High School in Dallas, whose mascot is the Scot, has a drum and pipe corps.
- As does Shadle Park High School, in Spokane, Washington. Their mascot is the Highlanders.
- At the Battle of El Alamein in 1942, combat was preceded by the heaviest and most intense British artillery barrage since 1916. At its peak this involved some 1700 field guns backed by infantry mortars and nearly 1000 tank weapons used in an artillery role. The noise was practically unbearable. Yet German and Italian survivors of the battle clearly remember hearing the bagpipes of Scottish and Irish infantry regiments over the noise of the barrage. this was not comforting to the Axis as they knew exactly what bagpipes meant - a Scottish infantry attack. Similarly, one of the few things that frightened Japanese infantry in the Far East was the sound of bagpipes - for similar reasons.
- The morale effect of the pipes was one of the biggest single reasons why American infantry fighting in Iraq asked for British, especially Scottish, infantry support in fighting around Baghdad. They got the Black Watch.