Robert J. K. Semple B.E.M. O.A.M. (1920 – 2020) joined the Hawthorn Pipe Band in 1945 after returning from six years of service in World War Two.

A Life Member of the Hawthorn City Pipe Band, Bob was involved in the world of pipe bands since 1936, when he joined the Victorian Scottish Regiment – 5th Battalion. At the outbreak of World War II he put aside his pipes and joined 2/12th Australian Field Regiment – 9th Australian Division as an original member of the unit. Between 1940 and 1945 Bob saw service in some of the most active theatres of war; Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, the siege of Tobruk, El Alamein and later in New Guinea and Borneo. The same month Bob returned to Australia he joined the Hawthorn City Pipe Band, after listening to the Band playing in a local park. So began one of the great success stories of the Australian pipe band scene.

Between 1945 and 1961 Bob served as a piper with the Band when the foundations were laid for the great success of the future decades. At the conclusion of his piping career Bob assumed the position of Drum Major of the Band, a position he continued to hold until he passed away. As Drum Major, Bob Semple made an indelible stamp on the character of the Hawthorn City Pipe Band and on the pipe band fraternity as a whole. He won the Victorian Champions Drum Majors’ Title on 24 out of a possible 28 occasions. At the national level he has won the Australian Title no fewer than seven times.

In 1977 Bob Semple was elected principal of the Dress & Drill Panel of the Australian Federation of Pipe Band Associations. He continued to be re-elected until his retirement in 1987. When not competing he was regularly called upon as the most highly regarded Dress & Drill Judge in Australia. In 1983 Bob was awarded the B.E.M. for his services to pipe bands, and in 1990 was the inaugural winner of the Sir Rupert Hamer Perpetual Trophy for outstanding service to the pipe band community.

Bob continued to regularly attend band practices until he passed away.

We miss you Bob.

Bob at ANZAC day in 2017

Life Member of the Band and Bob’s friend for more than forty years, Andrew Scott, delivered a moving and eloquent eulogy at the funeral service for Bob. Please follow this link to read Andrew’s words for yourself.

Bob’s Eulogy


Andrew also wrote an obituary for Piping Times, an online magazine with global circulation. Please follow this link to read the obituary.

Piping Times Obituary