Royal Marines Band Service Reunion - 9/10 October 2021

As usual I attended with Pam and my son Stephen with his wife Claire and we booked into the home Club for the Saturday night. Stephen and Claire love our reunions and when the band March on they simply can’t get before the evening has finished they ask me if can remember to put their names down on my list to ensure that I don’t forget to include them for next year. The next time we all come I shall introduced Stephen to all my friends so that he has some idea who they are and also get to know them and what great blokes they are...... friends of many many years.

We all mustered at the main gate where we had our names ticked off and then made our way to the mess. I will add here that I was given a huge amount of help in obtaining all the information I needed regarding the cost of tickets and the routine to gain entry into HMS NELSON from Rameet Shaw the band secretary over in HMS Excellent. After mustering in the mess and quaffing Prosseco and a tot of rum which was very well received by all present. Following which we repaired to the gym and got ourselves seated to witness a magnificent display by the band who once again were second to none. I understand only 61 tickets were sold and I’m sure there more than that attending so it seems a little unfair and having said that how on earth did they get through the main gate if their names weren’t on the identification list?

On completion of the band display etc I found I had forgotten what marches were played well I call it senior moment thing so what did I do, I duly contacted my friend on the inside yes you’ve got it, Rameet who very kindly contacted WO1 Nev Dednum who kindly sent me a list of the music played thanks Nev.

The band marched into the arena playing the March of the Royal Marines Commandos Sarais Marais followed by Respendent Glory Garante. A March I am unfamiliar with but I can say all the music the played was excellent in every detail.

Next up was THE CAPTAIN GENERAL (and, if Harry had only been aware this could have been his March oh well maybe another day you never know). The band then broke into slow time playing Globe and LAUREL our regimental slow March. This was followed by a quick March called WELLINGTON and then by Clash of the Dreadnoughts. I was not familiar with this particular piece of music but it had plenty of strength including brilliant horn and brass playing, the Corps of drums of course had their own finess to add to this magnificent piece it was now time for the finale. Starting with the evening hymn being PSALM 23 the Lord is my shepherd, I decided to research this piece and found that the composer being one Jessie Seymour Irvine way back in1871 or was it 2 got to take a break now as my iPad power is low power back later with more news of our reunion highlights! Just before I move on, the band display was an exciting spectacle with fine renditions of some great marches beautifully enhanced by the Corps of drums were as predictable as we grow to expect see hear and admire them and wonder in aware as to how they manage all the stick drill and numerous maneuvers they get up to without a hitch of any sort whatsoever.

On completion, the evening hymn was followed by sunset and Rule Britannia and the national anthem where the band were given permission to March off with regimental March a life on the ocean wave.
The drum major was a credit to the wonderful band he was instrumental in leading in superb drill movement and direction not forgetting Nev Dednum who I’m sure was instrumental in ensuring the intonation phrasing and and clarity in the complete performances as perfect from start to finish.

Col Burcham gave a very interesting speech to all of us spectators and very interesting it was completely without notes, explaining what might be expected of the royal marines and the way forward now that the display was concluded it was time for all to repair to the mess for yes you’ve guessed more boozing and swinging of various lights and followed for those of us who were a little peckish refreshments followed, no pussers curry etc this year but sandwiches to replace I spoke to many who were well pleased with this change although some we’re not overly happy that such a change had been put in place. I have over the years got used to some good old pussers curry dishes and sort of look forward to it followed by more pints and what have you at the bar. Well, all good things come to an end but now onto the better things that we all enjoy those friends and colleagues from those years we spent together on various ships, establishments and massed bands gigs, the counter march was an unexpected place to meet on some events!

We met several such persons this time around being Tony Oliver, Dave seed, Pat Hill, Roger Hollingworth, Alan Webb, Derek Usher, Dave Stockham, Mick Blandford, Chris Davis ex Pdm, Mick Hutton, Len Lewry, Barry Pettitt, Sid Tanner, Merv the swerve Durrant, Barry Radford and Mick HICKMAN (and Freddie Bassett at the remembrance service). I have been fortunate to be aquainted with Col Burcham over the last couple of years because I worked with his dad on some occasions when I was in CID in the sussex police when I working on a murder case, back in the 80’s at this time in the evening we all started to make to way back to the mess.

I have spoken a little about the social side of the reunion and now we have to move onto the very important Remembrance service at Portsmouth cathedral following a great breakfast at the Home Club, now that I mentioned the Home club and as I am talking about our reunion I hope you don’t mind if I go off tack a little and mention more about the HOME CLUB.

Way back in 1961 I passed out from the CG Squad and awaited details of my first first draft. I was fortunate to be drafted to a new ship HMS BLAKE and myself and others selected for a draft to this ship duly got together over south barracks like you did in those days My very first bandmaster was non other than Vince Harris commonly known these days as vertigo Vince due to his AUCKLAND TOWER to celebrate his 90th birthday.

Once we formed as a band we were required to be able to play together as an orchestra, military band, jazz band, a dance band, marching band with the skill to perform a beat retreat which may be required in any of the numerous places and countries who we would visit. Once this was completed we were examined by COL, Vivian Dunn who needed to ensure the professionalism and versatility of our band to perform any function required which might be required of us and, once we joined the ship in Portsmouth and Vince managed to get the HOME CLUB to open its doors to to us so that the our dance band could rehearse on some days a week which we all enjoyed very much, to this day I still remember those days and on entering the Home CLUB now I try to locate the room we used to rehearse in the HOME club is now remembered as the royal maritime Sailors rest.

And as this blog is about our reunion I wonder if any of those dance band members might be reading this and remembering those hazy crazy days that were so wonderful for an 18 year old bandy like me. Here are a few names that might jog a few memories, on piano was the late Phil Hughes RIP Phil. On bass was Scouse Bretherton, on drums Tony Slater, on Alto sax Mick Edwards, I was 2nd alto although I had only had my alto for a month by then but I put hours of practise in to get up to standard. On Tenor sax was Ben Duffy on trumpet John Woods and I’m sure Derek Usher was too, the dance band was under the direction of the late Buster Elver RIP Buster.

For any of these my colleagues who I have not mentioned I had thought maybe Bill Neno and Mick Rice and maybe Tex Pettitt we’re in the band. We had two buglers Porky Nichols well in this day and age that’s what we called him and he was quite okay with it and Henry Hall I know Tom Towler RIP was in the band but crossed the bar some years ago I offer my sincere condolences to those families who were left behind. Also, in the band was Howard Syiviter Trombone and Barry Radford, Euph and cello. I may be wrong here but I have a photograph of the band’s hockey team and I’m sure barry was our goalie. Well enough of the Home Club and back to the matter in hand.

The Royal Marines Band Service Memorial Day service at PORTSMOUTH CATHEDRAL
on Sunday 10th October 2021.

On this occasion we had the concert band conducted by Major S P Green RM, ADJUTANT ROYAL MARINES. Girl choristers, the SUB ORGANIST was Mrs Sachin GUNGA, and organ Scholar Mr Joel Colyer. The service started with the hymn Guide me O thou great redeemer. Myself and Pam together with Stephen and Claire were seated in the NAVE AREA in the south of the CATHEDRAL and high up above us are 8 trumpets. On each side of the Nave (16 in all). De Maris…… me neither!!! These particular trumpets are silver in colour very long about 3/4 feet may be and are controlled by the organist, each instrument horn has a reed to produce a distinct sound so deafening which creates a sound similar to 16 vintage car horns being sounded all at once it’s not a great sound and I defy anyone to to actually have a liking for it.

Once the hymn had concluded we were welcomed to the Cathedral by the very reverend Dr. Anthony Cane, prior to this welcome the Concert band played some delightful music for us before the service the initial hymn, the first piece was FANTASIA on GREENSLEEVES by Ralph Vaughan Williams 1872-1958. Men of honour part 2 came next by Thomas Bergerson next was With Quiet Courage by Larry Daphnis born 1939 followed by Mountain Thyme by Samuel Hazo born 1966. And lastly Benedictus from the ARMED MAN this music was played by the band of her majesty’s Royal Marines Portsmouth (Royal Band). The band sounded great throughout and I thought the woodwind were ex exceptionally fine and throughout the entire service I noted the woodwind section as being quite outstanding as were the trumpets and horn sections. All thoroughly enjoying themselves I thought the horns might have been playing some of the music that had been arranged by John Barry who was man who loved the horns which is so noticeable in many of his compositions and arrangements.

The choir then sang JUBILATE Deo Charles Stanford, and this was beautifully played especially by the woodwind. Who were great throughout. The lesson next was read by the Wing captain Musn G Henagulph. The sermon was given by The venerable Andrew Hillier CHAPLAIN OF THE FLEET not quite an ADMIRAL OF THE FLEET BUT PRETTY HIGH UP I’d think, maybe first name terms with a few angels and saints!

The anthem came next, with words from Gloria final movement this was sung by the choir with John Rutter for some reason the loudest bang on a bass drum that I have ever heard on a bass drum made everyone literally jump in their seats why was the bang required, it sounded when the words “you alone are the lord,””you alone are the most high” and whoever wrote this anthem didn’t want any one falling asleep during it, well it certainly woke me up!!!!!

The Naval hymn was next up and we were invited to stand if we could and sing, fortunately this wasn’t in order so we all stood up and sang some in tune, some in a key of their own oh well they say variety is the spice of life, don’t they? Can’t remember that but never mind we knew what was wanted I seem to remember.

Col Burcham read ”For THE FALLEN’” the band played Nimrod from the enigma variations during this but were a little loud as the words were difficult to hear. A shame. The turning of the pages of the book of REMEMBRANCE by C/SGT BUGLER Mace corps DRUM MAJOR. It has to be said that whenever in the future there are extracts that need to be read and therefore perhaps this could be done without the musical accompaniment.

Next up was the act of commemoration led by the Dean, with the citation read by the Principle Director of Music Royal Marines. And the roll of honour read by the Corps BUGLE major C/Sgt MACE. The last post was played by buglers of Her majesty’s Royal Marines Band Portsmouth. A time of silence was held for the DEDICATION Fanfare played on the Fanfare Trumpets conducted by WO1 Bandmaster Hutchinson Corps Bandmaster. THE KOHIMA EPITAPH which (Which we will always remember WHEN YOU GO HOME TELL THEM OF US AND SAY, FOR YOUR TOMORROW WE GAVE OUR TODAY.

We remained standing to sing “ALL PEOPLE THAT ON EARTH DO DWELL and on completion we remained standing for a Prayer for the ROYAL MARINES BAND SERVICE. And then the National Anthem was about to be played for which everyone remained standing. This is always the Dr. GORDON JACOBS arrangement which I like very much but on this occasion the band playing the National anthem unfortunately drowned out the fanfare TRUMPETS a shame but well worth remembering for next year.

We are soon to leave the cathedral and prior to this band played Jupiter from the Planets suite by Gustav Holst Jupiter the bringer of joy it was a pleasure to listen to once again I mention the horns again who once again excelled in their playing. As our remembrance is over the next one is in a year’s time when with our friends we pay our respects to those who gave their day for us and also those who have crossed the bar this year although they will be missed by many they will never be forgotten.

To be honest although the concert band played beautifully I prefer to listen to the orchestra during the memorial service I think it enhances the various speakers who need to put their message across to the congregation and the choir who sound much more brilliant with a lovely orchestral accompaniment, and the fanfare trumpets are able to make the most of their wonderful fanfares especially DR GORDON JACOBS' arrangement THE NATIONAL ANTHEM accompanied those fantastic fanfare trumpets.

I was hoping to write more about our reunion this year but one or two things got in the way and my memory isn’t what it was* but next year I hope to make notes so I can bring you all up to date with an informative record of the evenings events if you are unable to attend. If you are able to attend please ensure that you pay for your tickets next year as the routine might change at the gate if you have not paid no name on the gate list to show you are part of RMB Reunion party. I paid for mine by debit card over the phone to Rameet who ensured that my name and those of my guests were on the list in this day and age security is all important so please be aware of that, security on the gate is all important cheers see y’all next year.


PS: A REALLY BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF MUSIC BY JOHN Barry CALLED the Beyondness of things is in my mind an absolute must for an orchestra playing in a beautiful cathedral so perhaps next year then?

* Readers will be aware that Jem had a Stroke some months ago and typically a stroke recovery depends on many things. His progress has to be applauded and he will be forgiven for any errors I (editor) have not either corrected or failed to put into context. Well done Jem and thank you on behalf of everyone. Dickie.

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