Alistair ‘Wally’ Walton 1956-2022
Corps Bugle Major
Byron Alistair Walton was born at the family home.. 22 Oaklands Avenue in Heanor, Derbyshire on Thursday 24th May 1956. He was raised by parents Dorothy and Byron, who was always referred to as Jack. Alistair was a pupil at Heanor Gate County Secondary School, where he began playing and having lessons on the cornet, before joining a local Brass Band. Throughout his childhood, he supported Nottingham Forest and regularly attended matches at The City Ground with his parents.
a successful audition at the School of Music, Wally enlisted with the
Royal Marines Band Service on 22nd August 1972 as a Junior Musician
and member of 2/72 Troop. His leadership skills were evident early on
when he was rewarded with a role of Section Commander. He initially
joined as a cornet & violin player, however he struggled with the
violin and was given the options of changing over to become a General
Duties Marine, leaving the service altogether or moving over to join
the Buglers Branch, which he did in August 1974, joining the 2/73 Junior
Buglers’ class. When he changed over, an attempt was made to change
his official number but the computer wouldn’t recognise the change
so he was left with the musicians number Q004455H for the remainder
of his career. While he was in the wing, Wally competed in the popular
Devizes to Westminster Canoe Race and also met Anita in June 1974, who
was a Leading Wren based at Deal.. They originated from the same area
in Derbyshire and commuted together on leave.
Walton completed the Junior Command Course at Lympstone in July 1979,
before receiving an order to join the Band of HM Royal Marines Commander
in Chief Naval Home Command at Eastney. He fulfilled quite a few fanfare
trumpet gigs during his time there including a couple of televised boxing
matches featuring world middleweight champion Alan Minter. The couple’s
youngest son Philip was born in July 1980.. both the boys came into
the world as Forest supporters.
He was subsequently drafted in June 1990 back to Ruislip, this time as the No 1 Drum Major of Fleet Band. In October, the Band was mobilised to Operation Granby the First Gulf War and were to be utilised on board RFA Argus, joining the ship in Plymouth. They were to conduct their wartime medical role and training would be taking place during the journey on the ship. The reality was that they would fulfil a large number of contrasting functions, wherever they were needed and as well as providing music to aide morale. It was quite a worrying time for the band and their families with lots of talk in the news about chemical warfare. Following the end of hostilities in March they left the ship and spent a few days RNR at the Intercontinental Hotel in Muscat Oman, prior to flying home to RAF Brize Norton, where a coach filled with families was waiting to meet them, before a reception and some well-earned Easter Leave. Wally received his Operation Granby Medal to go alongside his NI and Long Service & Good Conduct Medal. There were murmurings that Fleet Band was to discontinue, these turned out to be true and eventually in March 1994 there was a final parade to mark their disbandment.
In March 1994, Wally returned back to Staff Band not knowing at the time whether he was to become the Corps Drum Major or Corps Bugle Major, he passed his Advanced Command Course at Lympstone, ensuring that he met the requirements to attain the rank of Warrant Officer and the reason he had improved his education qualifications much earlier in his career. A short time later.. Wally reached the pinnacle of the Buglers Branch when he was appointed WO1 Corps Bugle Major in 1994. The highlights of his tenure included conducting the buglers at the annual Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph. He was also involved in the logistics of the Royal Marines School of Music’s move to Portsmouth when Deal Barracks closed in March 1996. His final engagement in the Royal Marines was Beating Retreat at Horse Guards Parade in 1996.. following the last performance, he was invited to a reception to meet the Captain General Prince Phillip.
The Waltons settled in Deal and purchased a married quarter at York and Albany Close in 1996, but not the one they were living in as that wasn’t allowed. They bought No 16, which was previously the RSM’s house. In the Summer of 1996 and following the completion of his twenty two years in the Royal Marines Band Service, Wally gained employment at Eurotunnel, while he was waiting to join the British Transport Police. He completed his Home Office Police Course at Ashford in March 1997 and worked at Waterloo Station for the next two years. After a while he was moved to Ashford International which made life much easier after all the travelling combined with shift work while working in London. Wally and Anita separated in January 2008 and he started another chapter of his life with Joanne.. they met on their commute to their workplace at Ashford.. the couple married on Christmas Eve 2009 and continued to live in Walmer. They didn’t have any more children but Jo has a big family so he enthusiastically took on the mantle of ‘Uncle Al,’ as Jo and her family knew him as Alistair as opposed to Wally. They enjoyed nothing more than their holidays in the Canary Islands or visiting friends in the Philippines.
Following a lengthy battle with cancer, Alistair ‘Wally’ Walton sadly passed away in the early hours of Monday 12th September 2022 aged 66, he was surrounded by his family and will be sorely missed. His funeral service took place on Monday 17th October at Barham Crematorium. The wake was held at Deal Victoria and Barns Close Cricket Club in Walmer. In remembrance of Wally’s life, charitable donations were received on behalf of the Viking Day Unit and Queen Elizabeth Queen Mother Hospital, Margate.