Reunion this year was somewhat different and there were some adverse
comments made by some who shall remain nameless.
Pam and I took my son Stephen and his wife Claire with us as they
really look forward to meeting my many friends and witnessing the
fabulous camaraderie we are so fortunate to have and also, to the
watch the Beat Retreat but unhappily there was no Beat Retreat this
year, I’m not sure why, but perhaps there were not enough personnel
to form a marching band or the gym was being used for something else
no particular reason was forthcoming that I was aware of, and, it
was a shame as I know that many of us look forward to it especially
the music, marching and the Corps of Drums together with Sunset and
Oh well not to worry, things are changing, for example this year the
Reunion was held in the School of Music which you are aware is located
in the old Detention Quarters in HMS Nelson. (the Chiefs mess
are now charging, so I am informed, £800 to hire it for the
evening) it’s a British Heritage site and so the suicide
netting and original cell doors etc are still in situ, the students
use the many cells in which to practise, ideal to my mind.
On arrival at the school the entrance contains in many cabinets many
of the cups and silverware won or awarded over the years to various
participants together with numerous boards on the walls showing awards
and honours presented to our fellow musicians, all very impressive.
In the main lobby area Col. Jason Burcham gave a talk (in place
of Col Ridley who was unwell) regarding the evening’s events
and other matters. He mentioned that the School of Music will be receiving
members and instructors from the Army as Kneller Hall is closing down,
the main problem appears to be that there might be a change in the
name and the Royal Military and Marines School of Music or something
similar may become a reality although comments to the contrary have
You can imagine this prompted some questions that made answering difficult
as I think their Lordships etc have yet to make up their minds. I
have no problem with the army using our facilities as it shows they
want their musicians to be taught by the best, job done I think.
In what I will call the Concert Hall tables, were laid out for us
to use and sometime later we had curry and rice etc which this year
was ok, I’ll leave it at that! The bar had only beer (tins
of) and small bottles of wine not bad really but this was a first
time doing it.
The evening was a little disjointed as when Col Burcham was giving
his talk there were people in the Concert Hall who were unaware that
he was giving a talk, information was not as good as it could have
Halfway through the evening the Corps of drums gave a very impressive
display of Mess Beating I honestly don’t know how on earth they
remember everything in their stupendous displays and the display on
Saturday was not only magnificent it was absolutely perfect, well
done the Corps of Drums some of whom, we were told, had only 6 months
During the evening we had two groups to listen to, a trad band in
the cell block and an ensemble on stage playing some great modern
and classic jazz tunes very well played.
There was what appeared to be a good turnout and I remember talking
to Dave Seed, Stu McLeod, Tony Oliver, Jamie James, Dave Stockham,
Merv Durrant, Barry Radcliffe, Mike Hutton, Graeme Verroken Roger
Hollingworth, Len Lewry and Baz Pettitt and many more friends from
bygone days apologies to those I have omitted.
The following day we mustered at the Cathedral at 1030 to attend the
Memorial Day Service, we listened to the orchestra combined of the
Collingwood Band and the Portsmouth (Royal Band) playing
excerpts from the fifth symphony by Alexander Glazunov and the Intermezzo
from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni both played beautifully the
orchestra was really on form and a pleasure to listen to.
The Cathedral Choir were magnificent singing the Jubilate Deo. by
Charles Stanford, the Choir is really impressive and the Soprano's
super, wonderful to listen.
Musn. Johnson (RMSoM wing Captain) read the lesson from the
It was fitting that those members who were murdered by the IRA on
that fateful day in Sept. 30 years ago were remembered together again
with some others who died around the same time.
Col Burcham read the Ode of Remembrance “For the fallen”
by Lawrence Binyon and The Kohima Epitaph was also read it is fitting
and so I shall write it here,
you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.
were more hymns and prayers culminating in two verses of the National
Anthem with the Fanfare Trumpets who sounded absolutely brilliant,
I particular like the Dr Gordon Jacob version of the Nation Anthem.
The orchestra finished with Pilgrims Chorus from Tannhauser.
All in all the weekend was delightful and apart from one or two minor
problems that to my mind can easily be sorted out by next year when
I look forward to seeing many more old and dear friends.
Sunday Morning after another
brilliant ‘Memorial Service'
'Ginge' Watts, Stan Puttrell, Merv' Durrant, Barry Radford, Bob Rawson
& Keith Richards