James Cleland Richardson was early to enlist in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, signing up at Valcartier in September 1914, aged 18. He fit the typical profile: a young man who had emigrated from the UK (in his case, Scotland) to Canada with his family. In his adopted home of Vancouver, he joined the Seaforth Cadets and distinguished himself as a piper.
In an August 1915 letter to his mother, Richardson wrote:
I haven’t heard of a piper playing in a charge yet and if the truth be known I don’t think there ever will be such an occurrence. Just picture a man standing full height playing the pipes, facing machine guns, rifles, bombs, shrapnel etc. How long would he last? The tighter you hug the ground in a charge the better for yourself and the worst for the enemy. This is not a war at all it is “scientific slaughter.” What chances have men against guns.