My Life in the Royal Marines Band Service - Circa 1947-1968
by Michael G. Hutton
Trevor, Rhoda's brother and I became good friends - he had spent some time in the Royal Marines so it must have been national service and he was always interested in what was happening in the corps.
must have been about July/August time when I found out that I was to
join up with a new band to serve on HMS Gambia which would form up in
September to embark the following month.
Back to Chatham for a few days, just enough time to see wives and girl friends before sailing off to the Middle-East. Our base for the next year or so was to be Trincomalee in Ceylon and we had been told this would be the last ship to serve that station as it would be handed over to Ceylon when we left whenever that would be!
The 1950s were bringing the colonial days of the British Empire to a close and the job of HMS Gambia its Captain and crew was to show the flag by visiting as many different countries as possible. There were a couple of Frigates and a Destroyer plus a re-fueling ship accompanying us and as you will see by the planned cruise we would be visiting many varied destinations. The Royal Marines and Band were an integral part of this and as you will see by the next couple of pages we certainly earned our pennies!
is a picture with a plan of our cruise and for some reason Malta seems
to have been left off? It was our second port of call after Gibraltar
where we met up with lots of other bandsmen near my old haunts of four
years before, so it was a sort of reunion. We took on board an Admiral
which meant that the Gambia had now become a Flag Ship similar to HMS
Glasgow when Admiral Mountbatten had been Commander in Chief of the
Med Fleet, this guy became Commander in Chief East Indies. Then it was
off to Suez through the canal, down the Red Sea where we stopped occasionally
for leisure activities such as swimming, fishing, rowing tournaments
and best of all water polo matches between different messes on board.
This was very popular even though we had the laborious task of having
to put out shark netting! Then on to Aden where we would spend Christmas
before sailing via Bahrain up the Persian Gulf to Kuwait. While in Bahrain
the Royal Marines were sent up country to sort out some problems and
for a couple of weeks I had the job of Fleet Postman! This meant I would
be stationed ashore with my own jeep and driver. Each morning we would
have to go to the airport, collect incoming mail, sort it and then deliver
to each ship and shore establishment. Then back to the Gambia by 9am
to continue normal duties! Oh what a hot day…………
Richard Valentine -1996 - 2010 © - All rights reserved