REPORT BY Jem Tugwood

The Reunion this year was somewhat different and there were some adverse comments made by some who shall remain nameless.

Pam and I took my son Stephen and his wife Claire with us as they really look forward to meeting my many friends and witnessing the fabulous camaraderie we are so fortunate to have and also, to the watch the Beat Retreat but unhappily there was no Beat Retreat this year, I’m not sure why, but perhaps there were not enough personnel to form a marching band or the gym was being used for something else no particular reason was forthcoming that I was aware of, and, it was a shame as I know that many of us look forward to it especially the music, marching and the Corps of Drums together with Sunset and Rule Britannia.

Oh well not to worry, things are changing, for example this year the Reunion was held in the School of Music which you are aware is located in the old Detention Quarters in HMS Nelson. (the Chiefs mess are now charging, so I am informed, £800 to hire it for the evening) it’s a British Heritage site and so the suicide netting and original cell doors etc are still in situ, the students use the many cells in which to practise, ideal to my mind.

On arrival at the school the entrance contains in many cabinets many of the cups and silverware won or awarded over the years to various participants together with numerous boards on the walls showing awards and honours presented to our fellow musicians, all very impressive.

In the main lobby area Col. Jason Burcham gave a talk (in place of Col Ridley who was unwell) regarding the evening’s events and other matters. He mentioned that the School of Music will be receiving members and instructors from the Army as Kneller Hall is closing down, the main problem appears to be that there might be a change in the name and the Royal Military and Marines School of Music or something similar may become a reality although comments to the contrary have been reported.

You can imagine this prompted some questions that made answering difficult as I think their Lordships etc have yet to make up their minds. I have no problem with the army using our facilities as it shows they want their musicians to be taught by the best, job done I think.

In what I will call the Concert Hall tables, were laid out for us to use and sometime later we had curry and rice etc which this year was ok, I’ll leave it at that! The bar had only beer (tins of) and small bottles of wine not bad really but this was a first time doing it.

The evening was a little disjointed as when Col Burcham was giving his talk there were people in the Concert Hall who were unaware that he was giving a talk, information was not as good as it could have been.

Halfway through the evening the Corps of drums gave a very impressive display of Mess Beating I honestly don’t know how on earth they remember everything in their stupendous displays and the display on Saturday was not only magnificent it was absolutely perfect, well done the Corps of Drums some of whom, we were told, had only 6 months of training.

During the evening we had two groups to listen to, a trad band in the cell block and an ensemble on stage playing some great modern and classic jazz tunes very well played.

There was what appeared to be a good turnout and I remember talking to Dave Seed, Stu McLeod, Tony Oliver, Jamie James, Dave Stockham, Merv Durrant, Barry Radcliffe, Mike Hutton, Graeme Verroken Roger Hollingworth, Len Lewry and Baz Pettitt and many more friends from bygone days apologies to those I have omitted.

The following day we mustered at the Cathedral at 1030 to attend the Memorial Day Service, we listened to the orchestra combined of the Collingwood Band and the Portsmouth (Royal Band) playing excerpts from the fifth symphony by Alexander Glazunov and the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni both played beautifully the orchestra was really on form and a pleasure to listen to.

The Cathedral Choir were magnificent singing the Jubilate Deo. by Charles Stanford, the Choir is really impressive and the Soprano's super, wonderful to listen.

Musn. Johnson (RMSoM wing Captain) read the lesson from the Book-of numbers.

It was fitting that those members who were murdered by the IRA on that fateful day in Sept. 30 years ago were remembered together again with some others who died around the same time.

Col Burcham read the Ode of Remembrance “For the fallen” by Lawrence Binyon and The Kohima Epitaph was also read it is fitting and so I shall write it here,

When you go home, tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow, we gave our today.

There were more hymns and prayers culminating in two verses of the National Anthem with the Fanfare Trumpets who sounded absolutely brilliant, I particular like the Dr Gordon Jacob version of the Nation Anthem.

The orchestra finished with Pilgrims Chorus from Tannhauser.

All in all the weekend was delightful and apart from one or two minor problems that to my mind can easily be sorted out by next year when I look forward to seeing many more old and dear friends.

Yours sincerely

Sunday Morning after another brilliant ‘Memorial Service'
'Ginge' Watts, Stan Puttrell, Merv' Durrant, Barry Radford, Bob Rawson & Keith Richards

Richard Valentine - 1996 - 2019© - All rights reserved