in 1928, Wally Shillitto joined the Royal Marines Band Service in June
1943, as a student he was awarded the Ernest Read Prize for conducting
at the Royal Academy of Music London. He was awarded the silver medal
from the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 1958.
He was appointed Bandmaster at Britannia Royal Naval College in 1960,
before his Commissioning as Officer in late 1961. He then took command
of Royal Marines Bands Commander in Chief Portsmouth and the Commander
in Chief Mediterranean Fleet based at HMS St Angelo in Malta, until
the establishment closed in December 1967.
He was then made Drafting Officer until September 1970 when he became
Director of Music of the Plymouth Band, which was renamed Commando Forces
Band in 1972. In 1973 he took the Band to Malta, Norway and to Berlin
for the British Berlin Tattoo, the first RM Band to visit the city since
the end of World War II. The Band also undertook three trips to Northern
Ireland to entertain the troops.
During his time at Stonehouse, Walter was responsible for at least five
recordings under the DECCA label, including By Land and Sea 1972, and
The Royal Marines Play Pops & Classics from 1974. He also presided
over the recordings ‘Focus on the Royal Marines’, and ‘The
Best of British’. Captain Shillitto was tasked with the role of
Senior Director of Music, a year later for the 1975 Edinburgh Military
Tattoo. His final tour with Commando Forces Band was the 1976 USA bicentennial
tour entitled ‘The British are Coming’. The sixty strong
Stonehouse Band joined forces with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch,
completing sixty-three performances in ten weeks. He presided over Trooping
the Colour on March 16th 1977 as 41 Commando withdrew from St Andrews
in Malta and was also Director of Music for the 1977 Military Pageant
at Wembley Stadium.
He should have retired from the Corps after more than thirty-four years'
service but took up a two year extension to help the Royal Australian
Navy. He took up an appointment on loan from the Royal Marines to become
Director of Music in the Royal Australian Naval East Area Band, based
in Sydney. The annual cricket match between Commando Forces and BRNC
Bands was named the Shillitto Cup.
Walter William Shillitto died on 31st January 2014.