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the loan of any of his Centre’s drawings and disposition and already a fine artist for
watercolours. whom I formed an early friendship that was
It could well be that some former 9th to last until his death in 1979. He believed
Battalion members might remember Christie firmly in traditional art skills, and developed
and could provide further information? into a fine draughtsman. His admiration for
the work of artists of the Italian Renaissance
yours etc, soon directed his skills into mural painting
Cliff Pettit and stained glass. His was an honesty that
continued throughout his career and led
Fyffe Christie: to the production of many fine paintings
Scottish Soldier and Artist
- although he was a retiring chap without
the commercial acumen of many of today’s
by Ted Allan
fine art fraternity.
The Centre’s collection of artwork has recently
Friendship with Christie was a quiet and
been enriched by the donation of 37 drawings
satisfying experience. We were much given
and watercolours by Fyffe William George
to philosophical debate about art and life,
Christie made during the 1944-1945 campaign
and it took time to get to know him. He was
in NW Europe. He served in the 9th Bn.
fond of walking in the Highlands (always
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), on active service
with sketch-book) but in student activities
from Normandy to Northern Germany. Some
he tended to be an observer rather than a
of his work is in the Imperial War Museum
participant. He seemed, I recall, to exist on
and in the Scottish National War Memorial;
a diet of kippers, and in a brief insight into
but most of it, gifted by the artist’s widow, is
his private life, I recall his amusement at
now in the custodianship of the Second World
his landlady’s disapproval of his attempts at
War Experience Centre: a record of places and
home beer-making in his student digs (she
events as seen through the eyes of a sensitive
never discovered his tobacco-growing trials
and accomplished artists who in later life went
in her window boxes). So it was a matter of
on to become a talented painter whose work has
some surprise that he volunteered to play
been exhibited in a number of galleries.
the bagpipes at a student party and then
This personal comment on Fyffe Christie
did so with complete skill. This was a side of
was prepared by Dr Ted Allan CBE, Friend
his character which had lain undiscovered,
and donor to the Centre who sadly passed on
and led me to an understanding of how his
before publication of this issue. We are mindful
war experience had affected his attitude to
of Ted’s generous contributions towards the
work of the Centre and regret the loss of a good
Fyffe Christie playing the pipes, front line

Returning to academic studies - or starting -
Fyffe Christie was already a trained piper
with the help of government grants, was an
when he was called to the colours early in
uneasy experience for the many ex-service
the war. As such, he was a desirable recruit
personnel who gathered in September 1946
for a Scottish regiment which regarded good
fresh from campaigns in many parts of the
pipers much as other regiments regarded
world to begin a new life. Such men and
good soccer players. Being a piper was not a
women dominated the classes. In a scene
cushy number, as Bill Millen, a recent visitor
being repeated at universities and colleges
to the Centre and Lord Lovat’s personal
nationwide, we ex-servicemen eyed each
piper in 1 Commando Brigade would agree.
other dressed in a motley collection of
The Pipes and Drums were the custodian of
demob clothing and cast-off uniforms. We
Regimental tradition, and the Pipe-Major
were a secretive and subdued group, little
the authority on ceremonial. The fine film
given then or later to talk about wartime
‘Tunes of glory’ in which the Pipe-Major
experiences - in retrospect, it might have
of a Highland battalion was played by
been of benefit to have done so. I remember
the actor Duncan Macrae, demonstrates
many whose memories must have been
the role of these NCO’s in such matters
indelibly imprinted on their minds.
as compulsory Highland dancing for the
It was at enrolment that I had my first
officers - usually before breakfast. But ‘Pipey’
encounter with Fyffe Christie who had been
as he was known was also a composer
on active service in Northern Germany,
of pipe music to commemorate events
a quiet and gentle fellow of studious
in regimental history. There are many of
these, from the ‘79th Farewell to Gibraltar’

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