Robert L.D. Cooper  Author, Historian, Freemason.

Knights of Saint Andrew (KOSA)

July 12th, 2018 by Robert Cooper

I am honoured to have been invited to give a presentation at the International Gathering of the Knights of Saint Andrew in Waco, Texas. USA, on 20 July 2018.

I have been the subject of my presentation but I am still working on it but it will certainly be on early Freemasonry which is, of course, entirely Scottish!

For more information see: 

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Friday, 13th

June 13th, 2014 by Robert Cooper

For those of you who are superstitious about Friday 13th you are in for a double whammy today as it is also a Full Moon!

Where does the superstition that Friday the 13th is unlucky originate? The one that I am most familiar with is the claim that it was on that day in 1312 that Jacques  de Molay, Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was executed.

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HP Sauce

June 11th, 2014 by Robert Cooper

An artist appeals for empty bottles of HP sauce to create a work of art.

This appeal caught my eye not only because I loved HP sauce but there is a major economic and political storm surrounding this quintessential British condiment.

The essential facts are:

1 The original recipe was invented in 1899 by Frederick G. Garton who was a Nottingham grocer

2 He sold his recipe to Edwin S. Moore the founder of the Midland Vinegar Co. This company launched the HP brand

3 HP sauce is a concoction with a malt vinegar base. This is blended with tomato, dates, tamarind extract, sweeteners and spices

4 HP stands for ‘Houses of Parliament’ because it said to have been first served in a restaurant in the house.

5 For that reason the label on the bottle shows an image of the Houses of Parliament

6 Harold Wilson (1916 – 95), Prime Minister (1966 – 70 and 1974 – 76) was a fan

7 More that 29 million bottles are sold every year an is the most popular brown sauce in the UK by a big margin

In 2007 production was moved to Holland causing outrage in Britain especially when the product continued to display the Houses of Parliament on the bottle.

More to follow…

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Crunch, Crunch…

June 10th, 2014 by Robert Cooper

We have all experienced it – a large thump as one’s vehicle hits a pothole. Usually it is to late to avoid the pothole or it has is ‘camouflaged’ by being filled with water or covered with snow.

It seems that instead of repairing our roads the authorities are more interested in building new ones and only repairing existing ones when absolutely necessary. Does that make sense?

That is why a app for my mobile ‘phone caught my attention. Using Potholer is simple. The best results are achieved when the phone is placed in a secure horizontal position, such as the cradle used for GPS devices in a vehicle and all potholes above a certain depth are automatically recorded, using GPS, and the relevant local authority notified. This has the beneficial effect of the accumulation of the location and severity of potholes means that those responsible for maintaining our roads cannot claim not to know about a particular pothole. Don’t forget to launch  the app!

There is one downside: using the Pothole can significantly deplete one’s mobile ‘phone battery. Nice of them to make that clear but if connected to a charging (‘cigar’) port that should not be an issue. That said, one needs also to be aware of mobile connection charges and upload and download limits.

For more information see: 

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Piper Bill Millin

June 7th, 2014 by Robert Cooper

After the post below (Independent Scotland would not have fought in WWII) was uploaded I came across the obituary of the Piper, William (Bill) Millin.

‘Bill Millin, who died on 17 August 2010 aged 88, was personal piper to Lord Lovat on D-Day and piped the invasion forces on to the shores of France; unarmed apart from the ceremonial dagger in his stocking, he played unflinchingly as men fell all around him.

Millin began his apparently suicidal serenade immediately upon jumping from the ramp of the landing craft into the icy water. As the Cameron tartan of his kilt floated to the surface he struck up with Hieland Laddie. He continued even as the man behind him was hit, dropped into the sea and sank.

Once ashore Millin did not run, but walked up and down the beach, blasting out a series of tunes. After Hieland Laddie, Lovat, the commander of 1st Special Service Brigade (1 SSB), raised his voice above the crackle of gunfire and the crump of mortar, and asked for another. Millin strode up and down the water’s edge playing The Road to the Isles.

Bodies of the fallen were drifting to and fro in the surf. Soldiers were trying to dig in and, when they heard the pipes, many of them waved and cheered — although one came up to Millin and called him a “mad bastard”.

His worst moments were when he was among the wounded. They wanted medical help and were shocked to see this figure strolling up and down playing the bagpipes. To feel so helpless, Millin said afterwards, was horrifying. For many other soldiers, however, the piper provided a unique boost to morale. “I shall never forget hearing the skirl of Bill Millin’s pipes,” said one, Tom Duncan, many years later. “It is hard to describe the impact it had. It gave us a great lift and increased our determination. As well as the pride we felt, it reminded us of home and why we were there fighting for our lives and those of our loved ones.”

When the brigade moved off, Millin was with the group that attacked the rear of Ouistreham. After the capture of the town, he went with Lovat towards Bénouville, piping along the road.

They were very exposed, and were shot at by snipers from across the canal. Millin stopped playing. Everyone threw themselves flat on the ground — apart from Lovat, who went down on one knee. When one of the snipers scrambled down a tree and dived into a cornfield, Lovat stalked him and shot him. He then sent two men into the corn to look for him and they came back with the corpse. “Right, Piper,” said Lovat, “start the pipes again.”

At Bénouville, where they again came under fire, the CO of 6 Commando asked Millin to play them down the main street. He suggested that Millin should run, but the piper insisted on walking and, as he played Blue Bonnets Over the Border, the commandos followed.

When they came to the crossing which later became known as Pegasus Bridge, troops on the other side signalled frantically that it was under sniper fire. Lovat ordered Millin to shoulder his bagpipes and play the commandos over. “It seemed like a very long bridge,” Millin said afterwards.

The pipes were damaged by shrapnel later that day, but remained playable. Millin was surprised not to have been shot, and he mentioned this to some Germans who had been taken prisoner.

They said that they had not shot at him because they thought he had gone off his head.

William Millin, the son of a policeman, was born in Glasgow on 14 July 1922. For a few years the family lived in Canada, but they returned to Scotland and Bill went to school in Glasgow.

He joined the TA before the Second World War and played in the pipe band of the 7th Battalion the Highland Light Infantry. He subsequently transferred to the Cameron Highlanders before volunteering to join the commandos in 1941.

He met Lord Lovat while he doing his commando training at Achnacarry, north of Fort William. Lovat, the hereditary chief of the Clan Fraser, offered him a job as his batman, but Millin turned this down and Lovat agreed instead to take him on as his personal piper.

The War Office had banned pipers from leading soldiers into battle after losses in the Great War had proved too great. “Ah, but that’s the English War Office,” Lovat told Millin. “You and I are both Scottish and that doesn’t apply.” On D-Day, Millin was the only piper.

When Millin boarded the landing craft bound for the Normandy beaches, he took his bagpipes out of their box and, standing in the bow, played Road to the Isles as they went out of The Solent. Someone relayed the music over the loud hailer and troops on other transports heard it and started cheering and throwing their hats in the air.

Like many others, Millin was so seasick on the rough crossing that the coast of France proved a welcome sight, despite the dangers that came with it. “I didn’t care what was going on ashore. I just wanted to get off that bloody landing craft,” he said.

He returned to England with 1 SSB in September 1944, but then accompanied 4 Commando to Holland; he finished the war at Lubeck. After being demobilised the following year he took up the offer of a job on Lord Lovat’s estate .

This life proved too quiet for him, however, and he joined a touring theatre company with which he appeared playing his pipes on the stage in London, Stockton-on-Tees and Belfast. In the late 1950s he trained in Glasgow as a registered mental nurse and worked in three hospitals in the city.

In 1963 Millin moved to Devon, where he was employed at the Langdon Hospital, Dawlish, until he retired in 1988. In several of the Ten Tors hikes on Dartmoor organised by the Army he took part as the piper, and also visited America, where he lectured about his D-Day experiences.

In 1962 Cornelius Ryan’s book The Longest Day was adapted into a film. The part of the piper who accompanied Lovat’s commandos was played by Pipe Major Leslie de Laspee, the official piper to the Queen Mother.

Millin played the lament at Lord Lovat’s funeral in 1995, and he donated his pipes to the National War Museum in Edinburgh. The mayor of Colleville-Montgomery, a town on Sword Beach, has offered a site for a life-size statue of Millin opposite the place where he landed on D-Day. This is due to be unveiled next year.

Bill Millin married, in 1954, Margaret Mary Dowdel. She predeceased him and he is survived by their son.’

Nuff said…

Reproduced with thanks to the Daily Telegraph.

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Independent Scotland would not have fought in WWII

June 6th, 2014 by Robert Cooper

Today I watched on television the various events to commemorate the D-Day landings. They were quite moving but many young people in Britain today have little understanding of why that event was, and is, so important to us today.

There are many, many, reports and comments on this the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and I need not cite them here. However, I wish to highlight how history, and a particular historical event, can be ‘hijacked’ to promote a particular point of view. Immediately below is an article in the ‘Metro’ free newspaper of today, 6 June 2014. The spelling and grammar is reproduced exactly.

‘Disrepect’ on D-Day

‘It feels disrespectful to the many Scots, English, Welsh and Irish, who fought bravely and gave their lives, that on the anniversary of D-Day Scotland is considering breaking away from a union which has served well Scotland, its people and the world.

Operation Neptune, the largest amphibious operation ever, was a magnificent example of what the British can achieve together. It was planned by the British, commanded by Adm Sir Bertram Ramsay (whose family were Scottish) and equipped by the British (who provided 80% of the vessels) and Americans.

The combined coordination of English, Welsh, Scots, Irish, Americans, Canadians and other nations ensured success.’

William, Coldstream’

This letter to a ‘free’ newspaper ‘The Metro‘ demonstrates the ignorance (in the original sense of the word) of the writer in pursuit of a political agenda. The implication is that  if Scotland was then independent it would not have stood side by side with England, Wales, USA and Canada to fight for freedom and democracy.

Of the six ‘nations’ mentioned by name three of the six (America, Canada and Ireland) were, and are, independent nations. To suggest that Scotland would not, in similar circumstances, have supported the fight against Nazism is an insult to almost all ‘non-political’ Scots.

NOTE: Although Ireland did not fight as a nation against the Axis many Irish people found on the side of the Allies.

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Scots the best educated in Europe

June 6th, 2014 by Robert Cooper

In a report issued yesterday by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reveals that Scotland is the best educated country in Europe.

The report shows that 44% per cent of people in Scotland between the ages of 25 and 64 have received some form of tertiary education which includes university degrees and further education. This places Scotland ahead of Ireland, Luxembourg and Finland these being only other countries to have scored more than 40%.

Joe Grice, chief economic adviser at the ONS said: “In terms of the proportion of the population going into higher and tertiary education, Scotland actually has just about the highest in the world,” And: “Scotland also does very well in terms of people in the working-age population group of 16 to 64 years olds that have got a qualification at NVQ4 or above.”

The UK scored 39.6%, placing it fifth, followed by Cyprus, Estonia and Sweden. France scored 32.1 % and Germany’s 28.5%.

The term ‘UK’ implies that the figure of 39.6% also includes those for Scotland (44%), Northern Ireland (32.5%) and Wales (36.1%). Does that mean that the figure for the UK is bolstered by those for Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales? Without separate figures for England only we will never be sure.

NOTE: The report is entitled: Figure 6: ‘Population aged 25 to 64 with tertiary education attainment, 2013’ (Excel sheet 28Kb) and can be downloaded from the Office of National Statistics web site.

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Father’s Day

June 5th, 2014 by Robert Cooper

This year Father’s Day is on Sunday, 15 June.

A special day to recognise the contribution of fathers was suggested by a Mrs. John B. Dodd, Washington State, USA.  Her father, William Smart, was a veteran of the Civil War. As a widower he raised his six children on a farm in the east of the state. Mrs. Dodd came to understand what her father had sacrificed in raising his children as a lone parent and this realisation led to her suggestion that a special day be set aside to recognise all fathers.

President Calvin Coolidge (1872 – 1933) supported Mrs. Dodd’s idea but it was not until 1966 that President Lyndon B. Johnson (1908 – 1973) signed a presidential proclamation declaring that henceforth the 3rd Sunday of June would be known as Father’s Day.

Exactly why the UK adopted this American inspired celebration of fathers and father figures is not known. For more information see: The Father’s Day Celebration web site.

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Edinburgh Tram Line

June 4th, 2014 by Robert Cooper

I have lived and worked in Edinburgh long before the Tram was first mooted in 2007. I have watched the drama unfold and it has had more twists and turns than the most complex ancient Greek labyrinth.

The cost has gone up and up and the length of the Tram line has become shorter and shorter. The cost of the 8.7 miles (24 kilometres) line, which starts near Edinburgh airport and ends in the city centre, presently totals £776 million ($1300 million at today’s generous (in favour of sterling) exchange rate). Most of that money came from Scottish taxpayers and an additional, smaller, amount from the citizens of Edinburgh. A couple of years ago a Public Enquiry was promised to fully investigate the decisions made and costs involved in bringing a tram line back to Edinburgh. Recent calls for that Public Enquiry have been ignored and there is a suspicion that the local and national ‘political class’ do not want to come under any scrutiny.

In light of that an Edinburgh solicitor, Daniel Donaldson, decided to set up a public petition calling for an investigation, in great detail, of the entire project. 10,000 names are required for the on-line petition to be recognised by our politicians. To sign the petition, where ever you live, go to: (you will be re-directed to a legitimate on-line petitions web site) If 10,000 people sign the petition then, at last, the citizens of Edinburgh might get a few answers.

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June 3rd, 2014 by Robert Cooper

Perhaps it is due to the funereal humour of the Scots but was taken with the idea if Tikker – a watch that counts down the remaining days of one’s life.

How then does it work. Details of your lifestyle, date of birth, weight etc. are input and the watch calculates (presumably using actuarial tables) one’s anticipated lifespan. Obviously it deduces the time from birth to the present day to arrive at the date of death. The watch then provides a mili-scecond, second, minute, hour, day, month countdown to one’s expected date of demise.

The makers are keen to point out that the idea is that by ‘knowing’ when one is going to pop one’s clogs you will be energised to make the very best of the time left. I think that is why it has been called ‘The Happiness Watch’!

I wonder refund one is entitled to a refund if the watch miscalculates the time left?…..

The watch costs $59.00. For more information have a look at: MyTikker

For those who rather have the watch on their iPhone an app is available in the iStore at about $4.

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