Thought I’d put pen to paper so to speak or rather finger to
keyboard and say a few words about the annual reunion gig which although
not as many members turned out this year the event was still a success
and as usual it was a pleasure to meet up with colleagues young and
Pam and I arrived in Portsmouth at about 1500 on Saturday 6th October
and made ourselves known at the Home Club before making our annual
visit to Gun Wharf for a shopping expedition and a drink or two at
a local hostelry, unfortunately nothing took Pam’s eye and so
we returned to the Home Club where we met up with 'Olly' Oliver and
At 1930 we made our way to HMS Nelson and the mess where we met up
with several old friends from times past namely Len Lewry Baz Pettitt
( now full recovered from his serious illness earlier in the year
) Chris Preston, Graham Verroken, Dave Stockham, Merv' Durrant, Pete
Yetman, Pete Scott and Mark Upton, there are many others whose names
I cannot recall at present for which I apologise (I think it’s
a case of “old timers” setting in!) So nice also
to see fellow members with their wives.
The display was as usual, second to none, this year the band slow
marched into the arena to “Road to Revelation” composed
by “Two Steps From Hell”, me neither, but more about that
later, the band then broke into quick time to “The Gladiator’s
Farewell” a cracking march by H L Blankenburg a German composer
with over a 1000 marches to his name.
Breaking into slow time we listened to “Finnish Cavalry”
march by Hackenberger/Deisenroth. From slow to quick time and into
a March called 'Trombone King' by Karl King, this featured three Trombones
and according to some notes I read about it, it was not a march featuring
Trombones but a fun march for Trombone players and our three that
night certainly enjoyed themselves, and so did we, it was great.
The end of this cracking march brought us to the drum routine and
once again the Corps of Drums didn’t disappoint, they were brilliant,
as I’ve said before, how they remember all of what they do baffles
me but they do it and do it brilliantly.
The finale gave us 'Norwegian Pirate' by yes you’ve got it “Two
Steps from Hell”, followed by evening hymn 'Men of Honour' by
Thomas Bergerson a Norwegian composer and co founder of the music
company “Two Steps from Hell.”
I Googled Two Steps from Hell and found that the discography is absolutely
phenomenal, thousands of compositions for hundreds upon hundreds of
films with quite a large percentage of them being Sc Fi. it’s
worth looking up.
Sunset, Rule Britannia and the National Anthem brought the Beat Retreat
to a very nice conclusion where Lt Col Ridley Principal Director of
Music Royal Marines explained that the Band Service now has 2 Lt Cols
the second being Lt Col J R Burcham SO 2 (Band). The Pdm also spoke
about the need to ensure that Mental Health and well being was recognised
nationwide and should be within the Band Service too.
The Beat Retreat was under the direction of WO1 Bandmaster Ivan Hutchinson
and the Drum Major was the immaculate Colour Sergeant Bugler Chris
Mace (Drum Major Training).
The band marched off to the Regimental march of the Royal Marines
A Life on the Ocean Wave and so after much well earned applause we
made our way back to the mess.
I would add that Col. Burcham’s father was in the Sussex Police
which I joined when I retired from the band service, I knew him quite
well and I understand he mentioned me to Jason. The rest of the evening
was spent in the mess where we were entertained by a first class group
playing music for just about everyone. The chefs did a grand job again
with the Beef Madras and the Chicken Korma. Our thank you’s
should also go to the bar staff who made sure we didn’t have
to wait too long for service during a very busy evening.
The following day we made our way to Portsmouth Cathedral for our
annual Memorial Day service this year being very relevant because
of the 100 year anniversary of the end of the 1st World War and the
selection of music was a splendid way of assisting in the pre service
First we had the pleasure of listening to the Fifth Symphony 2nd movement
by Franz Schubert 1797-1828, next up was a beautiful piece called
Cortège from Behind the Lines by Cecil Coles 1888-1918, who
served in WW1 as Bandmaster for Queen Victoria Rifles, he was killed
by sniper fire while helping to recover casualties on 26th April 1918.
The next piece was named Heroic Elegy (for soldiers) by Ernest Farrar
1885-1918, he was organist and composer, who had studied under Stanford
and taught Gustav Holst, he enlisted with the Grenadier Guards in
1915 and died in the battle of Epehy Ranssoy 18th September 1918 having
been at the front for only 2 days.
The Music was played by the Combined Orchestra from the Band’s
of HM Royal Marines Portsmouth (Royal Band) and Collingwood conducted
by Lt Col Ridley RM Pdm. We also had the pleasure of listening to
the magnificent choir conducted by Dr. David Price. The Organist was
Mr Sachin Gunga.
I do however have a small comment to make being, when the choir were
singing the Jubilate Deo we had once again the horrendous sound of
the Trumpets de Maris situated high up in I think the Nave, these
are played on special events but I fail to understand how they could
possibly be considered an enhancement of what is already a beautiful
sounding choir, these Trumpets should, as far as I’m concerned,
be EX Trumpets!!
Towards to end of the service Lt Col Burcham recited (from memory)
7 verses of the Ode of Remembrance “ For
the Fallen” which contains some memorable lines including “They
shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. age shall not weary
them, nor the years condemn, at the going down of the sun and, in
the morning, we shall remember them”.
These words were written by Lawrence Binyon 1869-1943, he was a civilian
and wrote these words less than a month after the start of the fighting
Last but not least but very important, I was speaking to some friends
after the service and we all agreed that the orchestra sounded absolutely
superb, the strings played beautifully, the woodwind sounded brilliant
and the brass were absolutely outstanding, thank you all for a truly
memorable Memorial Day service and Reunion.