William “Gruids” MacDonald was born in 1891 in Melness and in 1912 had joined the 2nd Battalion Scots Guards as a piper under Pipe Major Willie Ross.
The 1st and 2nd Battalions Scots Guards took part in the First Battle of Ypres in November 1914, the Battle of Aubers Ridge in May 1915 and the Battle of Loos in September 1915. In July 1916 they took part in the first Battle of the Somme and in July 1917, the regiment began its involvement in the Battle of Passchendaele. In March 1918 they fought at the second Battle of the Somme and in autumn the regiment took part in the final battles of the war on the Western Front.
During his time in France and Belgium Willie was badly gassed and was so severely wounded that he was discharged in April 1917. Despite being discharged ‘100% disabled’ Willie fought back to mobility and eventually joined the Lovat Scouts as Pipe Sergeant.
Willie was a prolific composer and talented piper winning many medals throughout his career including a Gold Medal for marches at the Northern Meeting. For instance, “Willie’s Polka” was a popular request at dances throughout the area. The traditional music group Feis air an Oir have been busy learning many of Willie’s compositions and bringing them to a new audience.
Read more about William and his fellow pipers in our 32-page booklet
Buy it now on Our Publications page