Dennis B Swann 1937-2021
Dennis Bright Swann was born on Sunday 29th August 1937. He was raised by parents.. Albert.. who earned his living as a mechanic in the textile trade.. and his mother Ellen. The family home was at Methuen Ave, Thurmaston in Leicestershire.
Dennis was a pupil of Roundhill Secondary Modern School in Thurmaston
and a product of the newly formed Leicestershire County School of Music
(C.S.M.). The School of Music was initially an orchestra, they searched
endlessly for instruments of any kind and successfully managed to purchase
two-hundred clarinets from the Royal Marines at £2 each.
Swann’s first adventure out of training was with the Band of the
Commander in Chief East Indies Station, a small band of twenty-three
musicians under the guidance of Bandmaster Graham Shipway. The band
were flown out to Ceylon on 4th October 1955 to join the light cruiser
HMS Gambia and to relieve the band that had completed the first half
of her 1955-56 commission. The new band were set for a cruise to the
Persian Gulf, Pakistan and India... On 19th October, Gambia left Trincomalee,
the main naval base in Ceylon heading for the capital Colombo. They
spent two days at Colombo before sailing for Khor Kuwai in Oman then
onto Bahrain, where the band, which also included Musician Ron Kempton,
played for the radio at the Broadcasting Studios of Radio Bahrain in
1956. It was then on to Kuwait. On 14th November, the ship departed
and navigated the Shat Al-Arab river, Iraq where they reached Basrah
in Iran, Muscat Oman and Karachi, culminating with a five-day jolly
in Bombay. They left India on 15th December to head back to Trincomalee,
where they would spend Christmas and New Year. The band was then billeted
at HMS Highflyer.. a Royal Navy shore base just north of Columbo for
a three-month stay.
a six-month period attached to the Royal Marines School of Music, Dennis
joined the Royal Marines Band onboard HMS Hermes on 7th January 1960
in readiness for her First Commission, under the leadership of Bandmaster
Maurice Pearce and BSgt Terry Freestone. This was a very young band
with most of the musicians straight out of training. There were a couple
of one badgers in Dennis and Pete McRoy, only five of the band were
old enough to draw their tot and that included the NCOs. Being a brand
new £18 million ship, Hermes took part in many exercises and that
involved the band keeping watches in the Ops room and radar display
room, they did manage to visit Le Harve.. which also included a weekend
an extended period of leave in October 1961, Dennis was posted to the
Plymouth Group Band HMS Drake. It was a proud day for Dennis and his
parents in July 1963, when he was in the Royal Marines Plymouth Group
Band that took to the stage in De Montford Hall Leicester.. the first
time he’d played in his hometown since he was in the Roundhill
of the highlights of his time in the Plymouth Group Band was parading
in London for the state funeral of Sir Winston Churchill on 30th January
1965. Den would go out of his way to help others with their musical
technique.. possibly an attribute he inherited from Mr Neale all those
an initial twelve years in the Royal Marines.. Dennis opted to sign
on again and received the re-engaging bounty of £100.. (the equivalent
in 2021 of around £1900), it was a much-needed windfall as in
March 1967, Dennis and Jenny became parents again with the birth of
another daughter Paula in Plymouth.
In May 1969, Jenny accompanied Dennis on a posting to Singapore, where the couple enjoyed a two-year stint.. He gained enormous respect for his personality, enthusiasm and his outstanding musical ability from both of his Directors of Music.. firstly, with the Royal Marines Band Far East Fleet based at HMS Terror with Lieutenant Ray Woodfield. The band disbanded in June 1970, but Dennis remained in Singapore when he and another sixteen ranks joined 3 Commando Brigade Band at HMS Simbang. Under the command of Lieutenant Bert Farlow, he served there until May 1971 when that band was also withdrawn from service.
his return from Singapore, he returned to Plymouth with a draft to the
Royal Marines Band HMS Drake.
his return to civvy street.. Mr Swann decided to return to his hometown
and settled in the Syston area of Leicester, where he found a new career
as a joiner for Charnwood Borough Council.
Bright Swann wasn’t able to recover after contracting Covid-19
pneumonia and sadly passed away on 27th January 2021 aged 83. His funeral
service was held on 22nd February at Loughborough Crematorium.