Jimmy Wilson, the Society’s first honorary president and one of the few pre-revival lowland pipers, died thirty years ago last February. In Common Stock Vol 1 No. 2, in March, 1985, Mike Rowan set down some reminiscences of Jimmy – “piper, actor, raconteur and gentleman”.

Jimmy and I used to drive to most of the society meetings together and I always looked forward to the journey as he told amazing stories of his life in the most delightful way. When he died I promised Jim Gilchrist that I would write one out for Common Stock and send it to him. However, one thing led to another and I never got round to it.
The other day I was sitting in my office when the phone rang. “Hello?” - no reply. "Hello?" a significant pause and then in a deep voice from the other end: “This is the ghost of Jimmy Wilson.  where's my bloody obituary!” It was, of course, Gilchrist but I’m sure Jimmy would have enjoyed the joke. Anyway, with my apologies, Jimmy, for my lateness here it is:‑
Jimmy had been talking about the stoke club of which he was a member, and how each member had to bring along a photograph of themselves when they were in their prime.    
“This poor parcel was wheeled in in a chair by his wife, and she had brought a photograph of seven fine, brave young men standing in front of a Lancaster bomber, and here, the wee bundle had been the rear gunner, you couldn't have recognized him at all. It's just terrible how people can change.”
Jimmy had been an extremely brave man all his life, both in the straightforward heroic sense in the forces as a member of the S.A.S. and a paratrooper, but also in the way he coped with all the problems that life throws up day to day, and always with his delightful impish sense of humour. Towards the end of his life he became quite emotional and as he told me this story the tears welled up in his eyes.
"There was one time I wish I had a photo of myself. It started at Dunkirk. I had been wounded by a German mortar, but it was only a one inch, which is really like a toy, it would have to land on top of you to do any real damage. Anyway it had blown-off my boot and cut my foot and leg, but it can't have been that bad as I ran to the dressing station. They bandaged it and put me on a truck with the rest of the wounded to take us to a boat. When we got to the beach we found all the entrances were blocked with abandoned or burning trucks so we went back into Belgium and managed to get on a beach there.
“We were quite lucky and got taken out to a destroyer straight away. The ship was jam-packed with soldiers, mostly wounded, and hardly any equipment left amongst them. but I still had my pipes - I wasn't as bad as the rest.
“When we got to Tilburn in London there were ships all over the place - it took a long time to get in. There was a huge crowd of people the docks; confused soldiers, some in rags not knowing what to do, and a lot of civilians. They seemed terrified. They had never seen a defeated British army before, and they half expected to see the Germans coming up the Thames right behind us.
“I managed to get to see the Purser and persuaded him to let me off first when we docked. 1 had my kilt on and one leg was ok but the other was bandaged to the knee and blood was coming through and of course I'd lost my boot! Even if I say so myself, it looked great - it didn't hurt, but it looked great.
“As soon as I started piping and marching down the gangplank the atmosphere on the quay changed completely - the sound of the pipes carried a long way, and when everyone saw this wee Scotsman piping away fit to burst, they all started cheering and throwing their hats in the air.
“It was lovely.  I wish I had a photo of that.”

Jimmy Wilson; a photo taken in the late-1960’s when he was taking part in a Chichester Festival theatre production of ‘Johnnie Armstrong’s last goodnight’. It was reproduced on the cover of the issue of Common Stock in which Mike Rowan’s appreciation was first published.