Brian Whitehead
A plea from his daughter Kimerley


I believe my father, Brian Whitehead may have been in the Royal Marine band.

He died in 1972 at the age of 41 in Sydney Australia. I was 12 at the time and our family had no idea that he was British or as to his history. In 1978, my mother was contacted by the Salvation Army in the UK as his family had been searching for him for years.

He was on the HMAS Glory and did a tour/tours of Korea and then allegedly deserted in Sydney in 1953 (?).

I have found a letter (undated) that my Father wrote to his brother in Manchester addressed as ‘B/Boy Whitehead, Royal Marine Band, Olympia West Kensington W.14’ The letter head is from the Army Scripture Readers and Soldiers and Airmen’s Christian Association, Rest room, Royal Tournament Olympia. W14.

He was such a wonderful and caring father, I would like to find out more if possible.

I will be in London for 2 weeks from the 6 June to the 20 June 09 and will continue to do research on him.

Kind regards

Kim Brown



Hello Kimerley,

My name is Terry Freestone and your email has been passed to me by our webmaster Richard Valentine, as I was in HMS GLORY January 1951- July 1953, a member of the Royal Marines Band on board. Brian was our percussion player of a total of 18 of us and the pic I`ve attached is of part of the band when we were doing a gig for the day ashore in Malta in March 1951. Brian you will recognise, is 2nd from left rear row. I`m kneeling just in front by the Corporal.

Click on image for names line up
The ship was on its way from Plymouth to Korea, and we were working-up our squadrons from HMS Kalafrana, a naval air station in Malta, before continuing through the Suez Canal and the long journey out to our operating base in Japan.

Before I continue the story I should tell you that I had an enquiry, through HMS Glory Association, back in October 2000 from your brother Andrew who was living at the time at 24b Bartholomew Rd, Kentish Town, London. I emailed him, also sent this pic to him. Since then I have changed computers so the memory stuff on that is lost, however I have kept hard copies in my file and will try to copy them and attach to you. Perhaps the technical side will defeat me but I`ll have a go. Did Andrew pass any of that information on to you?

Do you have your father`s Official service number?; it would be something like RMB/X 2375, perhaps. I was a boy with Brian under training in 1948; he joined a little before me. He would have been born in 1931 probably.
Anyway, more later if you give the go-ahead. Brian was quiet, even tempered & well-mannered. He was an exemplary mess-mate; when 16 of us ate, lived and slept in a space the size of the average living room these days - hammocks or camp beds was the norm. Let me know .... best regards


HMS Glory 1951 entering Grand Harbour Malta

Dear Terry,

That photo that you uploaded with your message brought back memories. I had a few months with Ged Emery whilst Kenya was on the South Atlantic station, he was in the AFRIKANDER band. Len Ingram never changed in appearance, though I have not seen him for years.

Talking about bands coming home from commission in the old RNSM uniform, I can remember being outside North Barracks Guard Room, when I was in the Draft Squad, awaiting to be rated to Musician, when a bus arrived with a band from Korea through the gate in thin stripes + lyres. The RSM, the tall one, Franks was waiting in the guard room for them.

It was very painful to watch, some of the band tried to run down the Gravel path to escape his shouting. I think they had white caps on, the old Duck ones, and because summer had gone the Barrack had changed into black. What happened next was they had to fall in to 3 ranks and be inspected, all their kit was still on a 3 tonner. No wonder there was Anti - Marine feeling throughout the Band service for years after....!

Years later in 1996, when my brother-in-law RMB/X2410 Musician Phil Clarke had a stroke, and lost all past memory, I went down to their house for 3 weeks and talked about the band service in the 50-70's. In a box of photos of his, there was a small photo of 2 or 3 bands sat together around a large table taken in Sasebo Fleet Canteen. You can see some lads with collar-dogs, and some with lyres; talking about those days gradually brought back his memory. Then we talked about his time in the home fleet. Commissioned Bmr Leo Arnold, B/Mr Ivemy, & Vince Harris who used to go ashore with Phil in those days. Just before I went back home, Phil's doctor took me to one side, and said talking about old times in the Band Service did more good to his recovery than all the hospital visits. Phil recovered some what, but months later had another stroke and died, never having had any retirement at all.

Anyway, enough for now. By the way, when Ron Rowson retired he became a peripatetic teacher in Portsmouth for strings, I had a part-time job teaching brass in the evenings trying to make an Orchestra up from Grade
6-7 Pupils. Ron worked with me there in 1964 era.

All the best

Ray Alberry


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