BCSgt Ken ‘Gunner’ Hargreaves Q002726N

Ken ‘Gunner’ Hargreaves was born on 17th November 1934 in Burnley, Lancashire. In 1949 at the age of fourteen and half, he left Burnley Grammar School and joined the Royal Naval School of Music at Burford where he studied as a cornet and violin player.

Following nearly three years training, Ken began life as a newly fledged Second Class Musician, with a drafting to HMS Thunderer, which was the name at the time given to the Royal Naval Engineering College at Manadon, Plymouth. Only six months later he became a Musician First class.

Following his spell at Thunderer, he served in the Bands at HMS Drake (Plymouth), HMS Terror (Singapore), on board HMS Newcastle, HMS Gamecock (Warwickshire) and on the Aircraft Carrier HMS Victorious. During this time he visited Singapore, Australia, Japan and China.

In 1964 he was drafted to the Britannia Royal Naval College, where he became an integral part of Dartmouth Band for fifteen years, serving under seven different Bandmasters.
During that time he married Shirley at Newton Abbot Registry Office on 9th September 1969, they were blessed with two children, a son Keith in 1969 and daughter Sarah on 1st February 1972.

He was promoted to Band Corporal in 1972 and successfully passed his Sergeants course in 1975. Due to the shortage of numbers within the Band at the time, he became an occasional bass drummer. He was awarded a silver plated Wakometer for his extremely loud efforts with the Massed Bands of the 1978 Cardiff Tattoo.

Dartmouth Band didn't venture abroad too often those days, but he did travel with the Band on at least one or two, possibly all three of the trips to Naples.

Ken was also awarded the Long Service & Good Conduct Medal while at the College. Wargreaves.. as he was affectionately known by his colleagues in the Band was an excellent swimmer and water polo player, turning out for BRNC and Devon Police, he was also a regular with the Royal Marines Corps team. It sounds like he spent more time in the pool than on the parade ground.

Away from the college, quite a few of the ranks in the Band had secondary jobs to supplement their beer money back then, Ken was involved with some of the other lads on a daffodil farm.

He was also a keen darts player, playing in the Dartmouth League for the ‘Seale Arms’ and later for the 'Ship In Dock', with other members of the band. He also had a passion for fast cars..

Ken was promoted to BCSgt before leaving Dartmouth. On 15th January 1979 he became Volunteer Band Instructor on HMS Intrepid, the ship had just completed a refit and following exercises and trials in the North Sea, sailed on May 30th for a two month deployment heading for Bermuda, Charleston, Annapolis, Boston, Baltimore & Halifax Nova Scotia, with a banyan on Prince Edward Island. HMS Intrepid arrived back in Plymouth on 25th June.

HMS Intrepid then returned to her amphibious role, 3rd Commando Brigade embarked and undertook a series of amphibious landing exercises around the coast of Scotland and Denmark, code named ‘Whisky Venture’. It was back to warmer climates and a cruise around the Mediterranean, beginning with a stop in Gibraltar on the 20th September 1979, before visiting Athens, Istanbul, Alexandria and Palermo on 2nd November. It was back to the freezing cold for Ken and Intrepid as the ship headed for Norway prior to Christmas leave with visits to Ramsund on 17th November and Narvik .

On completion of his time as VBI, Ken returned to the West Country at HMS Raleigh to prepare for his release from the Royal Marines Band Service after 31 impeccable years’ service aged 45.

As a civilian and following a brief spell living in London, Mr Ken Hargreaves returned back North to live in Castle Street, Bolton, Lancs with his son Keith. He earned his living firstly in security, then as a Court Bailiff before a total career change by becoming the co-owner of a petrol station.

Like many others ranks that served at BRNC, Ken never lost his love of Dartmouth, and returned for many years as a holidaymaker, especially during the Regatta.

Ken ‘Gunner’ Hargreaves sadly passed away aged just 59 on 26th May 1994, due to peritonitis. His funeral was held at Overdale Crematorium in Bolton.

aul Foley

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