Band and Drums Music

Music Associated With The Territorial Army Battalions

Because of the highly confused genesis of the Volunteer Battalions of the Regiment today it is almost impossible to associate particular Marches with battalions. This is further complicated by the nature of the TA man's loyalty, which is in most cases to his Drill Hall. Moreover, many of these Halls are the last relics of whole battalions - for example Camberwell, Clapham and Canterbury. Volunteer battalions usually play the Regimental Marches, but there are some tunes which can definitely be tied to particular battalions and companies, these are listed below:

'The Queen's Volunteers', this march was composed by WOl E Clark when Bandmaster of the 5th Battalion.

'Let the Hills Resound', this was the Regimental March of the 5th (Cinque Ports) Battalion of the Royal Sussex, later C Company of the 5th Battalion The Queen's Regiment. This Battalion was one of three raised to meet the projected French invasion of 1803, and it became a Rifle Volunteer Battalion of the Royal Sussex under the Cardwell scheme of 1881, and a Territorial Battalion in 1908. The March 'Let the Hills Resound' was composed in 1873 by Brinley Richards, a Welsh composer, pianist and music teacher whose other works include 'God Bless the Prince of Wales'.

'Prince George of Denmark's March'. This inspiring Slow March was for many years attributed to Purcell, but is now known to have been composed by Jeremiah Clarke, a contemporary of Purcell, and was originally dedicated to HRH Prince George of Denmark, husband of Queen Anne and Colonel of the Buffs. In view of this, and of the more recent Honorary Colonelcy of HRH Prince Georg, this is a most significant piece of music.

'Brighton Camp', this March, also known as 'The Girl I left behind me', must be a contender for the Army's most-played March. It originated during the Seven Years War when Brighton Camp was one of nine camps built in 1758 along the South Coast in the expectation of a French invasion. After the victories at sea by Admirals Boscawen and Hawke in 1759 the invasion threat lifted and the camps fell into disuse. The tune was revived during the Napoleonic Wars, and is especially interesting in the light of the raising of the Cinque Ports Volunteers.

The 23rd London Regiment - My Boy Willie

During the Second World War this infantry battalion formed first the 42nd Battalion and later the 48th Battalion of the Royal Tank Regiment. It remained equipped with tanks until the late 1950's when it converted back to infantry shortly before its amalgamation with the 6th East Surreys. In its RTR days, the battalion played that Regiment's March, 'My Boy Willie'.

In 1908, when the Territorial Army was created, the 4th Volunteer Bn. The East Surrey Regiment became the 23rd Bn. The London Regiment, a unit of the 2nd London Division. It was always known and spoken of as the 23rd London Regiment, and during the 1914-1918 was provided two battalions, both of which saw active service. After the war the 23rd London Regiment continued to function as an infantry battalion in the 47th (2nd London) Division until 1937, when its title was changed to 7th Bn. The East Surrey Regiment and it was transferred to 44th (Home Counties) Division. In 1938 came the great change, for after 140 years as an infantry unit the Regiment was converted to a mixed tank battalion and became 42nd Royal Tank Regiment.

In the latter part of 1955 it was decided that there was no longer a requirement for a larger number of armoured units in the Territorial Army, and so the 42nd Royal Tank Regiment was converted once more to an infantry battalion in July 1956. It seems right and fitting that the old title of 23rd London Regiment should be revived, so the old title was applied for, and granted, and once again the Regiment had the honour of forming part of The East Surrey Regiment.

My Boy Willie
The present version of the Regimental Quick March was arranged by Bandmaster Wallace, soon after the Second World War. He used two traditional arrangements. The first "Boy Billie" comes from Worcestershire and is a variant of the better known "Billy Boy". It had already been arranged and used, under the title "My Boy Willie", as the Regimental Quick March since the the First World War, the title being associated with "Big and Little Willie", the original tanks. However, it was felt to be too short and so too repetitive.

The second tune, "Cadet Roussel", comes from the area of Cambria, in France, scene of the Royal Tank regiments first great victory. There is little doubt that Wallace's march has now become one of the best known and best loved tunes in the British Army.

My Boy Willie

O, where have you been all the day,
My boy Willie?
O, where have you been all the day?
Willie, won't you tell me now?
She can brew, and she can bake,
And she can make a wedding cake;
But she is too young to be taken from her Mammy.

O, can she knit, and can she spin,
My boy Willie?
O, can she knit and can she spin,
Willie, won't you tell me now?
She can knit and she can spin,
And she can do 'most anything,
But she is too young to be taken from her Mammy.

O, how old is she now,
My boy Willie?
O, how old is she now?
Willie, won't you tell me now?
Twice six, twice sev'n,
Twice twenty and eleven,
But she is too young to be taken from her Mammy.

Formation Of The Band Of The Queen's Regiment Territorial Army

In 1966 the General Officer Commanding South East District selected six of the best Territorial Army Bands in the area, from a total of twenty three Bands.

They were to compete against each other at Shorncliffe, the winner to become the Band of The Queen's Regiment Territorial Army and Volunteer Reserve, now once again named Territorial Army, when the new Regiment of the Queen's was formed. This is believed to have created a president in Army Music - Army Bands competing against each other.

The programme was a difficult one; the set piece "The Overture Die Fledermaus", an Inspection, followed by a thirty minute Marching Display. The eventual winner was the 4th Battalion The Buffs, Territorial Army, under their Bandmaster E Clark. He was nominated to take over the new Band in 1967.

Within a few months of forming, the new Band of The Queen's Regiment, Territorial Army, had to undergo a Kneller Hall Inspection, achieving a very good grade. In 1972 the Band had their second Inspection, becoming the first Territorial Army Band in Army History to get an outstanding grade, followed with another outstanding grade in 1977.

The Band broadcast regularly on BBC and have appeared on television in France and Belgium. They have played along side some of the finest military bands from all parts of the world.

The Band has come a long way since 1963, when the 4th Battalion The Buffs Band was a thirteen piece Brass Band and Bandmaster Clark became its Bandmaster. To quote Lieutenant Colonel Trevor Sharpe's remarks in his last report on the Band, "They hold a high place in Military Music."

The Band of The 1st Bn The East Surrey Regiment during the thirties - Boy' Bodfish recalls:

The band consisted of forty members who had enlisted as boys. Boys enlisted straight from school and in some cases they signed on for nine years with the colours and three years on the reserve. However this service did not start until the boy had reached that age of eighteen years so it could be that a bandsman served for thirteen years. Compare this length of service a dutyman who signed on for seven years and five years on the reserve and there is a vast difference of training and experience.

Band 1st Bn The East Surrey Regiment, Lahore 1932. Bandmaster D B Dowle

Band 1st Bn The East Surrey Regiment, Lahore 1932. Bandmaster D B Dowle
(Click to enlarge)

Of a consequence, these extra years of service showed up in all regimental activities such as sports etc. On enlistment, boys were paraded in front of the Bandmaster who designated which instrument a boy was to learn. Also I might add, schooling was to play an important part of a boys service because a First Class certificate of army education was necessary if a boy was to eventually become a Bandmaster and a Second Class certificate if he were to become a fully fledged bandsman. Music however was the main item to be taught. Two hours each morning with a senior NCO learning musical notation from Allego to Vivace. Then the boy would stand by the stand on which his instrument was being played while the band rehearsed the programme for Officer's Mess for example.

After lunch the band were unoccupied but 'young hands' and boys did two hours individual practice on their instruments with musical scores which had been chosen by the Bandmaster. This was supervised by the NCO who assured himself the music was duly being played. After two or three years of the tuition one became fairly proficient on the instrument. Then it was in front of the Bandmaster to examine whether one would become a bandsman or not. Not all were successful because of the number of bandsmen in the band was limited. Also at this time if a lad showed particular promise he would be sent to the Royal School of Military Music at Kneller Hall in Twickenham as a pupil. On very rare occasions one would become a student at the Hall and eventually a Bandmaster. After qualifying to play in the band one took part in all the band activities such as playing on the march at the head of the battalion and Officer's Mess, and a small band was always engaged at playing hymns at the weekly church service. All the time these activities were being carried out the band also on occasions had to find guard duties such as company arms guard. Also, one had to qualify as a rifleman as well.

It follows that with the years of service a bandsman had to carry out also showed up on the sports field and there were many sports activities in which the band did not appear. The only one I have in mind was boxing because injuries to the lips were not conducive to good musicianship. At the outbreak of war the band was disbanded and the bandsmen were made stretcher bearers. The Bandmaster and the boys were dispatched to the regimental depot where the Bandmaster grabbed any musicians that were called up, to form a band, the powers that be decided that music was an important item on the wartime minds. It is important to note that during the war the band who served as stretcher bearers were awarded no less than 1 DCM, 3 MM's, 1 MBE, and 1 BEM. Need I say more!

Band, Khartoum

Band, Khartoum 1938. Note that Bandsman Berryman third up from front right is wearing 1st war decorations.
(Click to enlarge)

The 5th Bn The East Surrey Regiment (TA)

The 5th Surreys were converted to Royal Artillery in 1938 and became the 5th Anti-Tank Regiment RA. After they had returned from Dunkirk in 1940 they had a number of moves until they finally arrived at a large house on the Dover Road, Canterbury for RHQ with the remainder of the Regiment billeted in nearby houses. Stan Paul a member of the old 5th Surreys recalls:

During our stay at Canterbury, Lieutenant Colonel Chapman left a message with the RSM to report to him. I was wondering what I had done wrong, but on meeting the CO he said that he had been told that the Regiment used to have a band and was interested in knowing how many of the members were still in the Regiment. I said if he gave me a few hours I would let him know and in due course gave him a list of names. In all there were 16 drummers and three from the military band, one trumpet player, sax and clarinet. The sax and clarinet players could also play flutes and the trumpet player we got to play the cymbals. It made up a band of four side drummers, a base drum, tenor drum, cymbals and 12 flutes. The CO then asked where were the instruments? I said as far as I knew they were still at the old Wimbledon TA headquarters.

57th (East Surrey Anti-Tank Regiment),

57th (East Surrey Anti-Tank Regiment), RA The Drums, Annual Camp, Tilshead 1939.
(Click to enlarge)

5th Battalion Band The East Surrey Regiment

5th Battalion Band The East Surrey Regiment (TA) playing before HM Queen Mary at St Helier, 1938.
(Click to enlarge)

He told me to lay on some transport and he would give me a letter authorizing me to collect the instruments. With Driver Tony Thorns, who lived in Church Road, Epsom, we went to Wimbledon, collected the instruments and were both able to spend a few hours with our families. We then made our way back to Canterbury. Lieutenant Colonel Chapman said he wanted the band reformed and all the personnel would be excused all duties for practice. After the band got going, we paraded at GOC inspections and our crowning glory was that we then marched the Regiment from Canterbury to Canterbury barracks and then on to the church parade service at the Cathedral. Then back to the Canterbury cricket club grounds, where the CO came up to us with a grin from ear to ear. He was so pleased with the band and the glory it gave the Regiment, that he gave us all seven days leave including any leave due to us. During this time we had called in the service of TSM George Coldman, who was a keen admirer of the drums during TA days and a good friend of the Drum Major, Bill Burrell, who had gone on an officer's training course. We said he had got to act as Drum Major, which rather shook him. I personally gave him a crash course with the mace and told him when it was necessary to stop the band, to just glance round at me and I would give him the sign when to stop. During this time Bandmaster Tom Marner, being the senior NCO of the band, took charge. It was rather pleasant while it lasted and made a nice break.

5th Bn The East Surrey Regiment (
(Click to enlarge)

The last parade of The Drums 5th Bn The East Surrey Regiment (TA) Wimbledon Town Hall, November 1938.
Back row left to right: ?, Jack Cruttenden, George Dyer, ?, ?, ?, Arthur Shepherd, Fred Harwood, Bill Allen.
Middle row: Bob Smallbone, Fred Hawkins, Stan Paul, Fred Tugwell, Neil Collyer, Jack Bromich, Stan Blade, ?, Basil Rush, .... Bryant, Les Steedon, ?, .... Cornish.
Front row: Alf Champlouvier, Bill Burrell, Major F W C Hill TD, Lt Col J A Imison MC TD., Major P H Drake-Brockman, Bill Pike, Len Nash.

The Corps of Drums Society

Formed in 1977 the Society is now a registered charity and exists to help preserve the corps of drums in its traditional form. It does this by sponsoring and arranging training, by providing opportunities for corps to play together, and by promoting the activity through its twice yearly journal and by other means. Its focus today is increased towards youth. Most infantry corps or members together with many others affiliated to organizations such as the cadet forces, and some which are completely independent. The Society has been instrumental in arranging Massed Corps at the Royal Tournament in 1988 and 1999, and at the Lord Mayor's Show for the last four years. If you would like to help the work of the Society and to join in its activities, please contact the Hon Secretary, Mr Reg Davis, 62 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Hampshire GU13 ORU. The annual subscription is seven pounds.

The 2nd (Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot 1792.

The 2nd (Queen's Royal) Regiment of Foot 1792.
(Click to enlarge)

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