The Royal Oak Affair
The Saga of Admiral Collard and Bandmaster Barnacle

I have just had the pleasure of reading a book by Robert Glenton based on the remarkable story of one of our early Bandmasters. A quick look on-line will bring up details that I bring to your attention because of its historic interest. You may already have known of it but I did not. It may therefore be of interest to colleagues. I note that this individual is not mentioned in Terry Freestone’s composite list of Bandies who have passed on. If you would like to include this former Bandmaster then the details I have for him are as follows:

Bandmaster Percy Edward Barnacle was awarded the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 1923. He was serving aboard HMS ROYAL OAK berthed in Malta in 1928 when Rear Admiral Collard publicly swore at him during a Wardroom dance accusing his musicians of incompetence. A huge scandal ensued that concluded with the Court Martial of several senior naval officers and the Admiral having to ‘Strike his flag’ and he was sent home in disgrace. Percy died at Deal in 1984 aged 92.

His life story is so engrossing and unbelievably important that I cannot summarise it here. You will get enormous uplifting personal pleasure if able to read the book the final sentence of which concludes that “Bandmaster Barnacle showed that he had far more common sense than the Commander in Chief, Admiral, Ship’s Captain and Executive Commander put together”. Over to you - if merely for your interest.

With renewed warm regards. Graham.

[Editorial] The Sunset list is purely my own work, that also gleaned from historic records and some assistance from Paul Foley and others whom I'm ever grateful for their input. The 'database' that Terry left is a magnificent work of immense effort and would never be complete, but what he shared with us is to be recorded with the highest regard.

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