D-M Robert Bruce
Robert Bruce was born on the 26th of December 1905 in Aberdeenshire. Nicknamed “Drummie”, he was the Drum Major of the Second Battalion Gordon Highlanders. He served in the Regiment from 1925 to 1946. He met and married his wife during his career in the military while stationed in Gibraltar.
Shortly after, he was sent to Singapore and in 1942 was captured by the Japanese. His wife was lucky enough to escape before his capture and left Singapore on the Duchess of Bedford ship on a nine-week journey to Scotland with their son, Bobby. It would be four years before she saw him again. He would spend the war on the notorious Burma Railway. Upon release from capture, Robert left the army and had various odd jobs, but his passion was always the pipe band.
He and his wife would go on to have three more children, one of whom was also a drummer. Although not a piper, he composed several beautiful pipe tunes, with Balmoral being one of the most well-known. The tune was actually used in two major films; Batman Returns and Backdraft. He also composed a delightful tune entitled, Campsie Hills, which was written in memory of his father-in-law.
Robert Bruce died on the 13th of November, 1978 at the age of 72 and is buried alongside his beloved father-in-law below those very hills, lying north of Glasgow between Killearn and Kilsyth.
The document below provides much additional information on Drum Major Robert Bruce’s military career. It has been provided by the Gordon Highlanders’ Museum in Aberdeen, researched and written by volunteer researcher Stewart Mitchell. It is reprinted here with permission.
JB, November 2017
-with notes from the family of Robert Bruce and the Gordon Highlanders Collection, and special thanks to the Gordon Highlanders Museum