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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Duties of a bandmaster when at sea.


Gardenerbill

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I am writing up my account of the service of George Bedingham (see previous thread here).

 

George served aboard HMS Neptune, a dreadnought class battleship and the flagship of the home fleet, for duration of the war. When in port I assume he would have carried out his duties as bandmaster with the band, but whilst at sea what other duties might he have been expected to perform?

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The embarked RM musicians were employed at Action Stations deep below the upper deck in the Transmitting Station (TS) of capital ships from where they controlled the ship's gunnery main armament.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As you say, Horatio, when the ship was in action the bandsmen were down in the TS using mechanical computers to work out what angles the guns should be pointed at.

This required division of labour and therefore coordination.

The question that occurs to me is this: Did the bandmaster who was responsible for coordinating the musicians in their musical performance also have the role of coordinating all the computing in the TS?

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It would be helpful to have a Watch and Station Bill from that time to see exactly who manned the TS. There is at least one account (albeit from HMS CLEOPATRA - 15 band members -  in WW2) which states that a gunnery petty officer was in the TS. The same account notes that CLEOPATRA had two TS compartments "...The main one was situated as far below decks as possible ... and the other one just below the upper deck." Whether this arrangement applied in WW1 I cannot be sure.

"VG in the working of Fire Control instruments" was added to the requirements for Band Corporal and Bandmaster 1st and 2nd Class promotion in 1911 and one might assume that this qualified them for a TS supervisory role.

As each band returned to the RN School of Music at Eastney at the end of a deployment, they were re-trained and re-examined musically and in gunnery fire control and went back to sea having qualified in both disciplines. 

Edited by horatio2
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A fascinating thread!

 

My grandfather Edward Muir, RMB 1239, was "Granted MPA. Fire Control very good" on the 28th. of May 1914, and "Fire control instruction excellent" on the 20th. of December 1922. I thought this meant he would stand on deck with a bucket of water!

 

Any idea what MPA stands for?

 

aim

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Horatio2 - many thanks for that. May I ask another question?

 

On 18/03/09 my man was granted EA (Efficiency Award/Allowance?).

On 29/09/21 he had two good conduct badges.

Would any of these (MPA, EA, good conduct badges) be reflected on his uniform? The only photo I have of my grandfather shows the whole band of HMS Renown in Japan in 1921-1922, and I don't know which man he is.

 

aim

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Good Conduct Badges were worn as inverted chevrons on the left sleeve cuff. MPA and EA (Efficiency Allowance) were pay allowances that carried no insignia.

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10 hours ago, aim said:

The only photo I have of my grandfather shows the whole band of HMS Renown in Japan in 1921-1922, and I don't know which man he is.

Strictly speaking, this was not RENOWN's band. The RMLI Plymouth Divisional Band accompanied the Prince of Wales on the Royal Tour to Australia in HMS RENOWN in 1920. The ship's band, supplemented by musicians from the RN School of Music to become a band of 32, was sent as duty band to Plymouth Division in their stead.

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Great! Thanks again.

 

My man had three medals and two inverted chevrons at that time, which cuts the number of candidates in the photograph down from 29 to 18 (most of them are not showing off their left cuff :angry:).

 

Interesting that they were not the ship's band - I thought they would have a partial change of crew every time they got back to Plymouth. If you're not careful you can learn something new every day!

 

aim

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On 25/06/2018 at 18:49, Bart150 said:

As you say, Horatio, when the ship was in action the bandsmen were down in the TS using mechanical computers to work out what angles the guns should be pointed at.

This required division of labour and therefore coordination.

The question that occurs to me is this: Did the bandmaster who was responsible for coordinating the musicians in their musical performance also have the role of coordinating all the computing in the TS?

I think it all depended on the ship, but many TS were 'commanded' by a CPO, with the bandsmen manning the various machines.

 

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