Raymond J ‘Wally’ Walters 1942-2018
Raymond John Walters was born in Bramshott Hampshire on Monday 23rd February 1942. He was the only child to his mother Eileen who was employed in the catering business, his father was lost in the war. Raymond was only seven when he was taken by his mother to live at Raynes Park near Wimbledon in London where she moved for work reasons. In 1949, he was placed in Reedham Orphanage.. an asylum for fatherless children where he took up boxing.. he remained at the institution until 1956. From there he travelled to Deal on 10th April 1956 to enlist as a Boy Musician into the Royal Marines Band Service, where he joined the 3/56 New Entry Squad. The juniors began their journeys in East Barracks back in the fifties, the regime was very rough going in those days, but they simply had to get on with it. Ray studied at the School of Music as an oboist, but also spent much of his time in the boxing ring.
first draft as a trained musician in January 1960 was to the Royal Marines
Band Commander in Chief Mediterranean Fleet based at HMS Phoenicia in
Malta, becoming one of just eighteen ranks under the direction of Lieutenant
Pete Sumner. On completion of his Mediterranean jolly in August 1961,
Wally returned to Deal to take his place in the Staff Band of the Royal
Marines School of Music. Throughout the early part of his career, Wally
was involved in many of the Massed Bands events that gathered to play
at Royal Tournaments, Horseguards, Mountbatten Concerts and Edinburgh
Tattoo’s, but it was while he was amongst the ranks of the Massed
Bands at the 1962 Edinburgh Military Tattoo that twenty-two year old
Wally met Scottish lass Irene McRae. Ordinarily these types of courtships
last just a few days or even less.. theirs lasted somewhat longer.
Wally was promoted to BCpl on 12th September 1967 and following a lengthy courtship, Wally and Rena married during a freak blizzard in Edinburgh on 2nd April 1968.. their daughter Eileen was born in Portsmouth on 8th January 1969. Wally featured in the Portsmouth Band Recording of 9th-10th December 1969, before he was afforded one of many trips onboard the Royal Yacht. On 19th January 1970, Wally was amongst the travelling contingent as HMY Britannia sailed from Portsmouth on the five-months trip to the Southern Hemisphere. The Yacht sailed via Madeira, Barbados and Panama through the Pacific visiting Fiji, Tonga, Rarotonga, and many other beautiful places, en route to New Zealand and Australia. On the way back the yacht called at Bermuda, where half the band decided to hire motorcycles to explore the island.
September 1970, Wally returned to Lympstone, where he successfully passed
his Senior Command Course (B), and the Walters family was extended in
1972, when their son Graham was born in Portsmouth. BCpl Walters was
promoted to BSgt on 12th April 1973 and in July he was entrusted with
the role of Oboe Instructor at the Royal Marines School of Music. Wally
was nicknamed ’Don Revie’ after taking over the running
of the Training Wing Football Team, turning them into his very own Leeds
Utd.. a formidable force. BSgt Walters was presented with his Long Service
& Good Conduct Medal on 15th April 1975. Wally was Instructor to
many young juniors, more importantly a father figure to the likes of
Joe Sharp, Jim MacGregor, Dave Reid and many other young talented oboists
that went on to have successful careers in the band service. It was
only then, that he embarked on his two greatest passions.. He discovered
he had a natural talent for golf when he became a member at the Walmer
& Kingsdown Golf Club, which is perched high on the white cliffs
virtually halfway between Deal and Dover.. over the subsequent years
he became a very good player. He was also a gifted entertainer.. Wally
took great pleasure appearing in the Sergeant’s Mess Pantomimes
held at the Globe Theatre in North Barracks, turning out every single
year: The Pantomimes raised around £20,000 each year for various
charities locally and nationally, which included donations to the 1989
Clapham rail crash and the M1 aircraft disaster.
Humpty Jack & the Beanstalk
In August 1980, Wally was further promoted to the rank of BCSgt and just eighteen months later on 23rd February 1982.. Wally’s fortieth birthday, he retired from the Royal Marines Band Service following a glorious twenty-six years’ service. As a civilian, Mr Walters took up the position as a Steward at Walmer and Kingsdown Golf Club, where he was also responsible for organising many charity golf tournaments. He then went onto gain employment as Chief Clerk at the headquarters of the Queen’s Regiment in Canterbury. Rena was School Secretary at Deal Secondary School for fifteen years until her retirement in 1997.
It is well documented that the 22nd September 1989 was the darkest moment in the history of the Royal Marines Band Service. Earlier that dreadful morning, Wally had taken Rena to Dover where she checked in to hospital for a scheduled operation and Wally resumed his commute to Canterbury for work as usual. Following news of the atrocity, Rena, who was a member of the St John Ambulance, was informed that her operation wouldn’t go ahead as planned as they needed the beds to accommodate possible casualties from the barracks. Wally returned and collected Rena from hospital and they both made their way to the centre of operations which was in the Sgts Mess in South Barracks. There, they were both on hand to look after and to reassure the gathering families and friends who’d congregated there. As a consequence of the bombing at Deal, a large number of former Royal Marines including Wally, gathered from all over the world for the charity concert held at Margate Winter Gardens in 1990 under the direction of former PDM Lieutenant Colonel Paul Neville, the inaugural ‘All Stars Band Concert’ took place to raise funds for the Deal bombing disaster. The All Stars decided to perform each year thereafter which benefitted other various local charities including The Royal Marines Charity and The Deal Memorial Bandstand Trust.
Wally was also on the stand when ‘The Old Comrades Band’ got together for a one off unrehearsed performance on the Deal Memorial Bandstand on Sunday 21st August 2005. The concept of presenting the concert performed by forty-three ex Royal Marines Band musicians who still lived in Deal was the idea of former WO Bandmaster Stephen Misson. “Forming a band of the appropriate size to fit on the bandstand was quite easy, but finding the time and place to rehearse was much more difficult. So, the obvious answer was to make this an extra special event by playing entirely without rehearsal.. 2500 people awaiting the downbeat by former Corps Bandmaster Phil Hughes. Following an absence of seventeen years the Sgts Mess pantomime was revived with the 2013 production of ‘The Wizard Who's Odd,’ held at the new venue, the Astor Community Theatre in Deal. Wally excelled that year in the role of Royal Maureen. Wally it seems was never short of things to do.. he was also a committed brother of the Globe and Laurel Masonic Lodge and a member of Deal Bowling Club. Wally spent his remaining years of retirement on the golf course.
August 2016, the family were devastated to learn that Wally had developed
lung cancer. Treatment however was complicated further by his ongoing
heart problems, pacemaker and diabetes but they attempted a low dose
chemotherapy in the hope of shrinking the tumour.
‘Wally’ Walters sadly passed away following his lengthy
illness ten days later on 6th March 2018 aged 76. Wally’s funeral
service was held at Barham Crematorium on 29th March.