Best viewed in
Internet Explorer

Music (PDF)

Music (BMW)

Back to

Updated 05/24/2013


When the Battle is Over
Pipe Major William Robb

An excellent player, and winner of the Gold Medal at Oban in 1893, William Robb (above) is best known as the composer of one of the most popular retreat marches ever penned: "When the Battle is Over," commonly known to pipers as "The Battle's O'er."

He was Pipe Major of the 2nd Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders from 1887-1891, and of the 1st Argylls from 1891-1894. He was also famous in his day for a 'test march' he made with P/M James MacKay, another A & S Highlander, in 1895 when the two marched 35 miles from Aldershot to Hyde Park Corner playing alternately all the way.

He died in 1942.

The lyrics are by Andy Stewart.  Andy Stewart MBE (30 December 1933 - 11 October 1993) was a Scottish singer and entertainer. 

The use of tartan patriotism and stereotypical Scottish humor goes back to Sir Harry Lauder and music hall songs. In the 1960s this strand was continued by the entertainer, Andy Stewart.

He was born in Glasgow in 1933, the son of a teacher. He moved to Arbroath as a child, and then trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

He had several hit singles - "Come in-Come in", "Donald Where's Yer Troosers?", "A Scottish Soldier" (36 weeks in the UK Singles Chart in 1961), "Campbeltown Loch", "The Muckin' O' Geordie's Byre", "The Road to Dundee", "Tunes Of Glory", and "Dr. Finlay" (1965). He is also remembered for being the compere of the The White Heather Club. This was a BBC Scotland television program that existed as an annual New Year's Eve party (1957 - 1968), and also as a weekly early evening series (1960 - 1968). "Donald Where's Yer Troosers?" was a hit in 1961 and again in 1989. It was also recently featured on the American TV show "Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles" sung by one of the terminators, played by Garrett Dillahunt. Andy does an Elvis Presley impersonation half way through the song. On the strength of this comedy hit, Andy toured Australia and appeared on the Ed Sullivan show in 1968, doing impersonations of Dean Martin. His skill with different accents is also evident on "The Rumor", where the rumor moves across Scotland and into Ireland, with Andy speaking in a different accent for each place.

His albums, such as Scottish Soldier and Andy Stewart's Scotland, were also popular internationally.

In retirement he moved back to Arbroath and died there in 1993. Before he died he did a small concert at Arbroath High School (which he had attended) for the pupils. He was also due to appear in a concert at Glasgow's Pavilion Theatre. A sheltered housing scheme in Arbroath, 'Andy Stewart Court', was named in his memory.

Stewart died after giving one of his most renowned performances during a Gala Benefit Concert for Children's Hospice Association Scotland. He came to the Usher Hall in Edinburgh from his sick bed to appear for the children, and gave his last ever performance.

Stewart was awarded an MBE in 1976.

Stewart's son Ewan Stewart is an actor, whose film and television credits include Rob Roy, Titanic and Only Fools and Horses.

Lyrics by Andy Stewart

I return to the fields of glory
where the green grass and flowers grow.
And the wind softly sings the story
of the brave lads of long ago.

March no more my soldier laddie
there is peace where the once was war.
Sleep in peace my soldier laddie
sleep in peace now the battle’s o’er

In the great glen they lie a-sleeping
where the cool waters gently flow.
And the gray mist is sadly weeping
for the brave lads of long ago.



See the tall grass is there a-waving
as their flags did so long ago.
With their heads high were forward braving
marching onwards to meet the foe.


Some returned from the fields of glory
to their loved ones who held them dear.
But some fell in their hour of glory
and were left to their resting there.