December 2016
by Mike Hutton

As I watched HMS Illustrious leave Pompey for the scrap-yard in Turkey it brought back many memories of 'Bands on Ships' way back when we had a Navy. The commentator told us that the two Air Craft Carriers bigger and better are on their way! Number 1 arriving in Portsmouth next year and I wonder if there will be room on board HMS Queen Elizabeth for a Royal Marines Band?

My first ship, HMS Glasgow based in Malta didn't really have room for a Band even though it was the Mediterranean Fleet Flag Ship with Lord Louis Mountbatten as CinC. Twenty Four of us plus a Commissioned Bandmaster Ernie Ough (who did have a cabin) had to live in the 'Gunroom Flat' (where about six Midshipmen hung out) in a space not much bigger that a couple of snooker tables and we had to borrow half a mess deck table in the Marines Mess at 'Tot Time' for those who drew a tot of course! (There were quite a few of us under age.) By the way there were 120 Royal Marines on board at the time.

Ship No 2 (then a Cpl) was another Cruiser HMS Gambia - we actually had a mess space with two tables! A fantastic space-and we had a place to practice-very different to ship No 1.

Ship No 3 (now a B/Sgt) was HMS Albion a light fleet Air Craft Carrier on its last fixed wing commission before becoming a Commando Carrier. I had my own cabin 6 decks down just below the stokers toilets - what luxury...The only problem was I had a band of volunteer sailors!!! When we entered harbour in 'Subic Bay' in the Philippines (a US Base at the time) I had 13 on the Flight Deck with myself on Trumpet standing out front attempting to play 'Sons of the Brave' and as we came alongside there was the USA Navy Band blaring out 'St Louis Blues'...There was nowhere to hide...

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