Walter W ‘Wally’ Shillitto 1927-2014
Served 1943-1979

Walter William Shillitto was born in West Ham, Essex on Wednesday 19th October 1927 to parents Joseph and Elizabeth. West Ham at the time was a local government district in the extreme south west of Essex until 1965. He was however raised in nearby Brentwood where his father was an Off Licence Manager.

Fifteen year old Walter joined the Royal Marines Band Service in June 1943, as a student he was awarded the Ernest Read Prize for conducting at the Royal Academy of Music London.
Walter was married to Constance Robertson in late 1949 in the district of Brentwood.
His early career path led him to serve in the bands at HMS Royal Arthur and HMS Vengeance before promotion to BCpl and a posing to the Band of the Commander in Chief Far East Fleet based at HMS Terror in Singapore, where he served between 1952-54. He returned from the Far East thereafter and a draft to the Royal Marines School of Music Staff Band. For his exceptional musical ability, he was awarded the silver medal from the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 1958.

He was appointed Bandmaster at the Britannia Royal Naval College in 1961, before his Commissioning as Officer later in the year.
He then took command of the Royal Marines Bands Commander in Chief Portsmouth based at Whale Island and the Commander in Chief Mediterranean Fleet based at HMS St Angelo in Malta, until the establishment closed in December 1967.
He then secured the position of Drafting Officer until September 1970 when he became Director of Music of the Plymouth Band.. based at the Infantry Training Centre at Lympstone. The band returned to Stonehouse in 1972 following a four-year stay at ITC and later renamed Commando Forces Band.
During his time at the helm, the much-travelled boss returned with his new Band to Malta at least five times, Norway and to Berlin for the British Berlin Tattoo, the first Royal Marines Band to visit the city since the end of World War II. The Band also undertook four extremely dangerous trips to Northern Ireland, in addition to many engagements in England and Wales.
Wally was accountable for at least six recordings by Commando Forces Band under the DECCA label.. usually recording one every year: By Land and Sea’ in 1972, ‘Around the Globe’ a year later, ‘The Royal Marines Play Pops & Classics’ from 1974. He also presided over the recordings ‘Focus on the Royal Marines’, ‘The Best of British’ in 1975 and ‘Marines on the March’ in 1977. Although not a prolific composer.. Wally's pen bore the mark of quality and originality which can be heard in the piece 'Trumpetino'. Captain Shillitto was tasked with the role of Senior Director of Music for the 1975 Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

His final tour with Commando Forces Band was the 1976 USA Bicentennial tour entitled ‘The British are Coming’. The sixty strong Stonehouse Band joined forces with the 1st Battalion The Black Watch, together they completed sixty-three performances in ten weeks. He presided over Trooping the Colour on March 16th 1977 as 41 Commando withdrew from St Andrews in Malta and was afforded the role of Director of Music for the Silver Jubilee Military Pageant at Wembley Stadium in 1977. The annual cricket match between Commando Forces and Britannia Royal Naval College Bands was enjoyed for many years and was named the Shillitto Cup.
He should have retired from the Corps after more than thirty-four years' service but was offered a two year extension to help our friends down under and become Director of Music in the Royal Australian Naval East Area Band, based in Sydney.

Walter William Shillitto settled in Blairgowrie in Perthshire with his partner Ursula, he sadly passed away aged 86 on 31st January 2014. His private funeral service at his own request was held on 6th February, his ashes were later scattered off West Sands St Andrews.

RIP Wally

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