RMB Memories Pt.II (mostly Burford 1946-48)
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At Burford, 'Doc' became 'A' Company commander. His office was on the other side of the square from where the daily morning parade fell in. I won't say that 'A' company was slack, but it was certainly a long way from the smartness desired by pukka Royal Marines staff. (I knew that there was one good thing about Burford!) The CSM was a bandmaster of long service and wise to his Company commander's ways. Dead on the hour he would quietly give the order, "A Company, Parade" whereupon we would quickly but quietly fall in - probably only about 20 - 30 of us at that time. The CSM would then (again quietly), call the roll, rush up and down the ranks and just as the door of 'Doc's' office began to open would shout 'A Company, Dismiss' and we would all melt away with almost magical rapidity. 'Doc' had a peculiar habit when agitated (and always when giving a parade order), of pumping his right arm up and down from the elbow a few times. On these occasions it would go like a flail as he would petulantly bellow out "CSM I wanted to inspect the men this morning," before turning on heel to return to his office. More often than not this routine worked, although on one notable occasion he managed to be there in time and duly conducted an inspection. Some of the the bandsmen there had obviously only just staggered out of their beds and fallen into their uniforms in order to get to the parade on time - sans breakfast. Some didn't have any socks on; some had only a singlet under their blue serge uniforms and some would be unshaven (only because of a nasty rash of course). On this day Doc was in a particularly bad mood and instructing the CSM to put people on his report left, right and centre. He came to one man (who shall be nameless although I later knew him well) and he noticed a piece of string hanging down below the edge of his tunic. Doc leaned forward, grasped the string and gave it a tug. It didn't come away so he gave it another, much stronger tug, whereupon a long piece of string came away in his hand and every brass button on the man's tunic fell off and bounced around on the parade ground. The tunic also fell open to reveal a skinny, naked hairy chest! Doc was astounded but then recovered to put this man on report for being improperly dressed! Our ingenious friend had looped a long piece of string through the back of each button in turn! The rest of us were having hysterics!

On another inspection the state of repair of our boots became the focus of Doc's attention. He walked along behind each rank tapping the leg of any man whose boot he wanted to look at, whereupon we were required to bend that knee backwards to reveal the sole for inspection. When tapping one man's leg he accidentally also touched a leg of the man next to him - and was confronted by two adjoining boots being raised for his inspection. A thoroughly startled 'Doc' gargled " For God's sake man, put one foot down or you'll fall over!"

The Euphonium class blowing up a storm outdoors at Burford (must have been summertime.) Names, as usual elude me - except for the bloke in the middle - and I've known his name for quite a long time now!
There was a fellow euphonium and cellist in 90 Squad by the name of George, who originated from Castle Combe in Wiltshire (one of the most naturally beautiful villages in Britain). When he first joined, he spoke with a real country burr. He was a very strong lad and had an extremely hard head. One day at Howstrake during P.T. we were doing vaulting, following one another over the vaulting horse. In this instance we were attempting a longways roll-over which required a run up to the end-on horse, a spring upwards, tucking the head in and doing a forward somersault along it and off the other end. Unfortunately our friend put his head down too soon and ran straight into the wooden end of the horse, hitting it with such a resounding 'thwack' that the top section shot right off the horse. Anyone else would have been concussed. George merely shook his head and looked around to see what had happened. On a later occasion but this time at Burford, he had decided to cycle all the way home and back one Sunday (our only full day off) - a distance of some 60 miles each way. He made it home, but on his way back in the dark he was freewheeling down a long hill when, not surprisingly, he went to sleep and ran slap-bang into the back of a parked car. He arrived back in camp a day or so later with a few scars and bruises but otherwise unscathed. As for the car and his bicycle . . . .

Presumably in order to save boot leather, all our boots were required to be heavily studded with metal studs. I'm sure they created a suitably impressive noise when we were on the march as well as saving boot-leather, but the studs did nothing for adhesion between boots and concrete! In the cello practice hut our canvas-encased instruments were always stowed on their sides on the concrete floor - to await their next bout of torture at our hands! One day, the aforementioned George managed to totally lose the desired boots/floor adhesion, slipped backwards and descended heavily onto a poor, undeserving instrument which collapsed with a satisfying sound of splintering wood. George himself escaped any injury this time. Upon opening and holding up the 'cello case a torrent of matchwood kindling fell out. However, it wasn't all bad news - the case, strings and pegs were reusable! (End of digression).

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