Bob Semple OAM BEM (1920 – 2020), was a World War II veteran who subsequently became a member of the Hawthorn Pipe Band for 74 years.
Bob fought for 6 years in WW2, including as a “Rat of Tobruk”, at El Alamein, and in the Pacific. During his six years he had just a few short weeks home in Australia, and completed a phenomenal 1245 days in active combat. By the time the war finished, he was the only man left fighting from his original crew.
When Bob returned from the war, he wanted to reintegrate himself quickly back into society. He knew that he may never do so otherwise. He went straight back to his job. He also heard the Hawthorn Pipe Band playing in a park, introduced himself, and became a member. He remained a member until he passed away in early 2020.
The band was incredibly successful during Bob’s time as a member, including multiple Grade 1 Australian championships. Bob himself was the Victorian Champion Drum Major on 24 occasions, and the National Champion on 7 occasions. Bob remained an active member, attending nearly all gigs and practices until he passed away. He was a friend and inspiration to all members of the band.
Bob is remembered most of all by the band for the values that he embodied and advocated for within the band. Humility, teamwork, being a good mate, remembering to have a laugh, striving to be your best, to name just a few.
The band now wears the R. J. K. Semple tartan in Bob’s honour. The Victorian Scottish Heritage Cultural Foundation helped the band to commission the new tartan in Bob’s name.
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.
Andrew also wrote an obituary for Piping Times, an online magazine with global circulation. Please follow this link to read the obituary.
In 2022 the band performed “A Lament for Bob Semple OAM BEM”: