In 2005 the culmination of the ceremonies was Kevin Laidlaw and two other pipers from the King’s Own Scottish Borderers playing themselves up the ridge towards the location of the Loos Road Redoubt.
It should be noted that the full name of the town is Loos-en-Gohelle — Loos is near Lille. That said it is locally known simply as Loos; which is pronounced : Loss.
Although we talk about the Battle of Loos the ground stretches over a number of adjoining communes and the aerodrome is situated in Bénifontaine.
Kevin is a grandson of Piper Daniel Laidlaw VC, who became known as the piper of Loos, having piped 7th Bn KOSB forward out of the trenches. To play he had to take off his gas mask during what was the first battle where the British used chlorine gas.
In 2015 we had another grandson present, David Law, with his wife Christine.
The air shows at the Lens-Bénifontaine Aerodrome are always immensely popular and the organisers for the 2015 event were conscious that in 1915 the area of their club and runway saw much bitter fighting. The ill fated attack by the 24th Division on the 26th September swept across ground that is so flat and barren that in later years it was possible to put an airfield on it !
The climax of the Saturday evening was going to be fireworks and a display by the Somme Battlefield Pipe Band in honour of Daniel Laidlaw.
The Patrouille de France opened the evening’s aerial displays as the sun began to set. As the evening progressed the aircraft began using flares in their displays.
Out on the airfield is a small copse of trees, which were soon lit up by explosions and the launch of a battery of fireworks representing the pre-battle bombardment. The dust and smoke began to clear and soldiers in kilts became visible, then a lone piper in the distance.
Pipe Major Yves Holbecq played a lament before being joined by the entire band as they marched across the field, out through the smoke, towards the crowd.