My Life in the Royal Marines Band Service - Circa 1947-1968
by Michael G. Hutton
quick visit to Dubai before a two week stay at Karachi in Pakistan where
we were able to get ashore for a while after the usual duties including
Dinners, Cocktail Parties, Band displays and Beat Retreats etc; I did
get to play a couple of games of cricket along with Pete Westaway one
of our Trombone players, as we were both in the ships team. Also some
hockey matches, but they were mostly between different departments of
the ships company and on those occasions I played in the Royal Marines
Karachi we had naval exercises with the Pakistan and Indian Navies which
was in preparation for bigger naval exercises to be held later in the
year off Ceylon. Then it was on to Trincomalee where we would be for
a few weeks having a bit of a break after being at sea for some time.
Trinco is on the north east coast of Ceylon (now known as Sri Lanka)
and at that time in the late 50s it seemed to be to us a lovely quiet
peaceful place which later in the 60s & 70s would be involved in
a bloody civil war.
to the ship and off on our travels, this time the Maldives and India.
We were the first ship to visit Male the main island in the Maldives
since the second world war, so the visit was particularly important.
The Gambia was not able to tie up anywhere as the islands are in quite
shallow waters so we were anchored quite a way out in the harbour. The
most amazing visit from the Maldives head of state was next on the agenda
- we were all lined up on the Quarterdeck with Guard & Band, Admiral,
Captain etc; when in the distance we saw a large craft approaching.
It was the Royal Barge being rowed by about 100 oarsmen with a cabin
about 20 feet high in the centre of the craft where the Sultan and all
his entourage were seated. They drew up alongside the ship and all the
dignitaries were welcomed, wined and dined in true colonial fashion!
Later that day we went ashore to do our bit for Queen & Country
with our frantic 17 piece band - a concert at the Sultan's Palace followed
by a Beat Retreat on the local football pitch after the tide went out.
I was on Bass Drum that day as our regular Bass Drummer was sick - that's
why we were only 17. The Maldives was a beautiful place with the most
handsome people I have ever seen - a mixture of Indian & African.
Richard Valentine -1996 - 2010 © - All rights reserved