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Remembered Today:

Military band - ex-soldiers?


Moonraker

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I invite your thoughts on the type of military band shown in this postcard.Swindon military band.jpg

The photograph, I think, is pre-WWI and the medals those of the Boer War? Many of the members appear to be of a certain age, and I'm guessing that they're all ex-soldiers. Were such military bands entirely local initiatives, or was there some overall national organisation? Was uniform design a matter of choice by a particular band? And was membership restricted to ex-servicemen? (A quick Google yields photographs of some very flamboyant uniforms, with much braid and few, if any, medals, with some members lacking a military bearing.)

 

Perhaps such bands came into their own during the Great War, providing inspirational music during recruitment events and at military camp concerts - always assuming that enough members remained after some had been re-called to the Colours?

 

Moonraker

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If it's any help, I think they came from Swindon.

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25 minutes ago, Moonraker said:

...The photograph, I think, is pre-WWI and the medals those of the Boer War? ...

 

Most of the medals visible appear to be WW1 campaign medals - a few trios, pairs, a single BWM, etc - so the picture must be post-war.

 

Edited by Andrew Upton
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AH! That makes my enquiry more relevant to this Forum! I thought that I was pushing things a little by posting what I thought was a pre-WWI photo! (Hence my last paragraph attempting to skew things a little).

 

Moonraker

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Military in this respect refers to the combination of instruments being used, ie brass and woodwind, rather than it having any military connections or requirement for the players to be ex - servicemen.

 

Charlie

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My  guess is

Sally Army Band ?

 

Ray

 

EDIT

revised opinion

Swindon Railway Band

phot10873.jpg

Edited by RaySearching
photo added
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Can you see whether the collars have S on one side and A on the other? That would confirm Ray's view that it could be a Salvation Army band. I'm inclined to say that it is not an army band because it has both a bass drum and kettledrums, and they certainly would not have had tubular bells.

 

Ron

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Thanks for all your posts (excepting the juvenile one). I think that Charlie has demonstrated the lateral thinking that I lacked, and that my photograph shows a band that used military instruments and attracted ex-servicemen - not that members had to be.

 

The uniforms in my photograph look very similar to those in Ray's and were perhaps sourced from the same supplier, but the cap badges are different.

 

The Bands Directory to which Ray links includes several other military bands, one or two of which look a bit idiosyncratic!

 

Moonraker

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1 hour ago, Ron Clifton said:

 I'm inclined to say that it is not an army band because it has both a bass drum and kettledrums, and they certainly would not have had tubular bells.

 

Ron

 

Ron,

An Army band would most certainly have a bass drum, timpani and tubular bells. All three would be used when performing static concerts, the bass drum would also be used on the march.

 

Charlie

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Thanks Charlie. I take your point, although the scale of instruments provided for battalions etc at Army expense does not include all these (Equipment Regulations, 1914).

 

Ron

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Thanks Ron, I find it rather surprising that a bass drum was not supplied at Army expense. Perhaps it was expected that a band would not perform on the march without the Corps of Drums. What one must bear in mind is that bands also received Regimental funding and they were also allowed to perform private, ie paid, engagements. The monies received would no doubt have been used to fund items not supplied at public expense.

 

Are the Equipment Regulations re a band available on line somewhere?

 

Charlie

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The BNA has dozens of references for the 'Swindon Military Band' up until WW2 and beyond.

 

Seems there was also something going on like the pop group  who split up as to who owned the name.

 

The original Swindon Military Band was established in 1879.

A Bank Holiday Fete and Gala on August 7th 1899 was attended by the New Swindon Military Band as the original was 'unable to complete the engagement'.

 

The only military connection appears to be the instruments as previously mentioned and the music.  The tradition continues and Ifound a reference to a Brass Band in Swindon that can trace it's origins back to the 1900s (the original name not cited).  As well as Agricultural Shows fetes and concerts articles show the band also participated in competitions, where there are other bands with 'military' in their name.

 

In 1933 the bandmaster committed suicide by drowning.  I can't find anything on recruiting principles, other bands sometimes advertise, so I guess it was by word of mouth.  

 

Ken

 

 

 

 

Edited by kenf48
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2 hours ago, charlie2 said:

Thanks Ron, I find it rather surprising that a bass drum was not supplied at Army expense. Perhaps it was expected that a band would not perform on the march without the Corps of Drums. 

Infantry battalions were officially provided with drums, including a bass drum, as well as fifes and bugles, but not kettledrums as well  Cavalry regments had trumpets and kettledrums but not a bass drum as well. Neither were officially provided with tubular bells.

 

I don't think that the Equipment Regulations are available online. I will try to dig up the details from my old notes and post them later. From memory, they may only refer to corps of drums.

 

I do accept that bands might be provided with other instruments under arrangements made by the regiments themselves, for use at static concerts. The fact that the band sergeant was left at the Base (presumabnly in charge of the instruments) and the bandsmen split among the companies to act as stretcher bearers suggests that, at the outbreak of war at least, it was not expected that the battalion band would perform on the march. It was certainly the case later in the war, when warfare became more static, that bands tendwd to reappear. No doubt the effect on morale of such entertainment as a band can provide was better appreciated by then.

 

Ron

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Ron, surely "The Base" referred to in War Estabs is the Base of Operations, rather than the Depot at Home? I believe the band instruments were left at the Depot, together with the colours and the Mess silver.

 

These Bases were named Infantry base Depots and were situated at or near ports of disembarkation. I pray in evidence the fact the the First Reinforcement was also to be at the Base ............ not much use if Base was at Home.

 

I don't want to appear too certain on this, but the others at "The Base" don't seem particularly useful if left at Home.

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Can anyone tell what that cheery chappie left of the bass drum (as we look at the photo) has as musical instruments? Marraccas?

There appears to be something wrong with his hands

Looks too young to have been a WW1 SWB holder, though

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Cymbals, almost exactly edge-on.

 

Muerrisch, you may well be right that the band instruments were left at the depot, with the Colours and Mess silver. The "Base" I was referring to was indeed the overseas base of operations, where the first reinforcement and a few others (mainly the band sergeant and the sergeant master tailor) were left, at an IBD.

 

I have now dug out the relevant sections of the Equipment Regulations (Part 2, Sections 1 and 2) and, as I suspected, they refer to Corps of Drums rather than bands. The scale for an infantry battalion, other than Light Infantry and Rifles, was one bass drum, eight side drums, eight bugles, six Bb flutes, two F flutes and two Eb piccolos. (The establishment was one sergeant-drummer and sixteen drummers.)

 

For Light Infantry and Rifles, the scale was one bugle per sergeant-bugler and four bugles per company.

 

For cavalry, the allocation was one trumpet per sergeant-trumpeter and trumpeter, one bugle per sergeant-trumpeter, and one bugle per squadron. The absence of any mention of kettledrums implies, I think, that these were considered specifically as band instruments, though given their longevity it was possibly assumed that replacements would not often be needed.

 

Ron

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I would have assumed the Band was left in Blighty to help drum up recruiting. Rather than at the Depot, would they not have been more useful with the Reserve Battalions where men were initially trained and drilled. A Band would also be useful for marching the various drafts to the Station. I have some very vague recollection of the 3rd Bn Royal Sussex doing this although I may be mistaken. 

 

We have touched on this before in other threads. The Grenadier Guards claim to have been the first band to go overseas and the only band to receive the 1914-15 Star. The diaries record the various bands of the Foot Guards took it in turns to go overseas. 

 

Separately I have seen reference to Divisional Bands playing battalions in and out of locations on the Western Front. I think Ron has previously suggested these might be ad hoc formations cobbled together from Div staff or Div troops as they do not appear in establishments.

 

Separately (again), I seem to recall some mention of corporations funding bands in some locally raised New Army battalions, and later Civic organisations paying for instruments of the so-called Pals battalions. If Instruments were privately purchased, they would still require a number of men to play them who presumably would have to come from the existing establishment. 

 

Lastly and slightly related is Pipe bands: the Scottish Horse went to great lengths to get approval for their six Pipers to be included in their War Establishment (not normally included in the Yeomanry). They were funded by the Officers and were **ahem** instrumental in playing some stirring sets in the trenches in late September 1915 on the news of the success of the Battle of Loos. The Turks responded by shelling the Scottish Horse and their neighbours every time the pipes played; presumably triggering a few Dashing White Sergeants. 

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Googling didn't produce many results, but I've now found
 

this

 

about the band's national success in 1909.

 

I can't find any evidence that there's still such a band in Swindon.

 

Moonraker

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The last advertisement in the BNA advertising the band's services I can find was March 1946.

 

They were busy in the twenties, in 1923 supporting a British Legion event.  I can find no reports during the war but there may be reasons other than inactivity e.g demise of local newspapers.

 

It appears their uniform (from 1890) was light blue and silver, one report from 1906 refers to the 'the old blue and white'.  An earlier advertisement (1889) states the uniform was blue and crimson.  

 

 

Ken 

Edited by kenf48
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The band of a line infantry battalaion was specifically broken up at War Establishment. The Bandmaster was not on the WE so stayed at the Depot [or, I suspect, wherever the Reserve battalion went]. His only certain assets would be under-age band boys and transient returned sick and wounded. If he rustled up a military band it would have to be reliant on pre-trained volunteers.

The sergeant went to the Infantry Base Depot in F & F, partly, one assumes, to assist the ORQMS. Nevertheless, band sergeants did participate in action: 2nd RWF lost one early in the war.

The bandsmen joined the companies either as SBs or as rifle and bayonet soldiers.

 

Never say never, but the above was the official line.

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On 19. Dezember 2016 at 17:54, Ron Clifton said:

 

I have now dug out the relevant sections of the Equipment Regulations (Part 2, Sections 1 and 2) and, as I suspected, they refer to Corps of Drums rather than bands. The scale for an infantry battalion, other than Light Infantry and Rifles, was one bass drum, eight side drums, eight bugles, six Bb flutes, two F flutes and two Eb piccolos. (The establishment was one sergeant-drummer and sixteen drummers.)

 

 

Thanks Ron

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  • 1 year later...

Good evening The Military band had 2 jobs One as a bandsman and when the Regiment went into battle the band acted as stretcher bearers and collected wounded and bodies from the

battlefield. taking them to the RAP in the front line.    

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On 12/19/2016 at 09:07, KevinBattle said:

Can anyone tell what that cheery chappie left of the bass drum (as we look at the photo) has as musical instruments? Marraccas?

There appears to be something wrong with his hands

Looks too young to have been a WW1 SWB holder, though

I believe he is holding cymbals and may have gloves on???

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