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There is always a thrill in belonging to a noble company. Eric Linklater in his autobiography tells of his experience in the disastrous March retreat in the First World War.


He was with the Black Watch. They had come out of the battle with one officer, thirty men, and a piper left of the battalion.


"The next day, marching peacefully in the morning light of France along a pleasant road, we encountered the tattered fragments of a battalion of the Foot Guards, and the piper, putting breath into his bag, and playing so that he filled the air like the massed bands of the Highland Division, saluted the tall Coldstreamers, who had a drum or two and some instruments of brass, that made also a gallant music.


“Stiffly we passed each other, swollen of chest, heads tautly to the right, kilts swinging to the answer of the swagger of the Guards, and the Red Hackle in our bonnets, like the monstrance of a bruised but resilient faith. We were bearded and stained with mud. The guards—the fifty men that were left of a battalion-were button-bright and clean shaved.


“We were a tatterdemalion crew from the coal mines of Fife and the back streets of Dundee, but we trod quick-stepping to the brawling tune of ‘Hielan Laddie,’ and suddenly I was crying with a fool’s delight and the sheer gladness of being in such company. It is one of life’s great thrills to have the sense of belonging to a goodly company and a goodly fellowship."