My Life in the Royal Marines Band Service - Circa 1947-1968

by Michael G. Hutton

Terry Freestone and I were given the job of training and rehearsing the 14 piece fanfare team during that year. The fanfare trumpets had been presented and dedicated by all the serving members of the Royal Naval School of Music in 1948 (a year before I joined). They were dedicated to all those bandsmen who lost their lives in WWII. Each year in November a special fanfare called 'The Dedication' has to be sounded in memory of all those men and it was our job to make sure the 14 players including five of us from the Bandmasters Class were the best there could be. There were actually two sets of fanfare trumpets which were used on many ceremonial occasions but the originals were only used for the 'Dedication Day' I was one of the two Bass Trumpets along with Bert Hall, and there were three Tenors, seven B Flat Trumpets and two E Flat Trumpets to make up the full team.

Halfway through our year long course Terry Freestone, Ben Finney and myself were invited to be on the SD List! This meant that we were considered to be officer material and would therefore be able after the Bandmasters course to take all the required examinations and other qualifications to become an officer Director of Music. I was particularly thrilled at this prospect as that could mean a career that could last until the age of 50 plus and also that I would have a say in the future of the Royal Marines Band Service. I suppose this must have encouraged me to work harder and at the end of the course and a week long examination which included conducting in front of Eric Fenby who was a great friend of Delius and Maurice Miles the RAM conducting maestro I managed to get the highest marks and was top of the class. The picture shows all of us after the final days of exams looking somewhat weary and very serious, but we had a very good party to round off that fantastic year then went off to other duties throughout the corps.

1962 seemed a bit of an anticlimax after the Bandmasters Class and all the musical and social activities during that incredible twelve months. The early part of the year I was seconded to the junior wing of the RMSM as Euphonium and 'Cello instructor. I had previously had short periods in East Barracks helping out the teaching staff when permanent instructors were sick or on courses, but this was the first time I was in complete charge for a few months. It was quite challenging for me to be teaching and training boy musicians and I had some fine young pupils who would in time turn out to be good performers.

That took me through to the late spring of 62, then it was back to work being attached to the Staff Band and all the duties involved including Beating Retreat on Horse Guards Parade in London, the Royal Tournament at Earls Court, various Tattoos including Edinburgh and concerts and displays in European cities ie; Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris and Madrid. So! The year was quite busy!

Rhoda and I had a good social life with many functions in the Sgts Mess, but she still had to put up with me being away for days and sometimes weeks at a time with all those engagements. The Sgts Mess cricket team had a good season and again I was in the Depot and corps hockey side.

The next year 1963 on 24 February I was promoted to Bandmaster - the biggest step in my career so far. I had to spend time in Eastney Barracks Portsmouth, the Infantry Training Centre which is the RM Commando Depot in Plymouth and on the parade ground in Deal training for the SD List - that was the Officers courses and I passed all those with ease.

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