Corps of Drums Corner
The Corps Drum Major JR Whitwham MBE Royal
As we approach another busy period I would like to take this opportunity to thank the buglers' branch for all their hard work over the last year. In particular I would like to praise all the buglers that carried out one, or more, of the 187 funerals that were undertaken during 2009. These highly important but emotional engagements are carried out with the highest level of professionalism. The many letters of thanks that I receive always comment on the impeccable behaviour of the bugler, this certainly makes me proud to be the buglers branch advisor.
When people finish their career, they usually move on to “Civvie Street” but CSgt Bugler’s Kev Tullett and Beanie Boulton have both joined the Career Service, serving once again with Pete Bradfield. WO2 Bugler Lee Cullen will take up his new position in the Globe and Laurel office, helping out John Hillier - someone once told me “if you want a job doing properly then ask a bugler”, or was that a bugler who told me. I would like to thank all of them for their contribution to the branch, I know that the buglers who served with them enjoyed the time in the Corps of Drums almost as much as they enjoyed being in charge. I would like to give a special thanks to Lee, who as the Corps Bugle Major has certainly enhanced the branch, ensuring that our reputation has gone from strength to strength. The performance of the buglers at this year’s Mountbatten Festival of Music was a fitting finale for him. His imagination and vision for the “Stomp” style routine can only be summed up by saying it was a world class performance, one the branch will be talking about for years to come. I look forward to seeing them all at the buglers' reunion in the future.
The 2010 buglers' reunion weekend started with the Inverted Chevrons Dinner, an occasion to remember for all the right reasons. We were honoured to have the company of the Principal Director of Music Lt Col Nick Grace RM, who certainly enjoyed socialising with many ex buglers who used to look after him when he was a young Musician. Maybe that is why he has a soft spot for buglers. This year I extended the invitation to the members and asked each of them to “bring your oppo”, and five fathers, four brothers, many friends and two dirty rotten ex matelots certainly had a great time sharing our traditions over a fantastic meal and plenty of port. The evening was made extra special with the orchestra from the school of Music led by BdCpl Trev Naughton, it was a privilege for us to enjoy their music. When everyone started singing along to the Sound of Music I realized then that I was in the company of buglers and not musicians – PDM, Ken Booth and Roger Hollingworth aside. The mess beatings were performed by the Corps of Drums from RM Band Collingwood, led by Cpl Bugler Jesse James, a truly forward thinking and inspirational display, one that crossed/touched the line at times but was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
Top Gear make a surprise visit to the Inverted Chevron's Dinner
The reunion the following night was attended by 80 serving and ex buglers, all of whom were entertained by the drum display by RM Band Portsmouth led by the Corps Bugle Major and the i/c Corps of Drums Sgt Bugler Phil Hawkins. A traditional display carried out with such precision and enthusiasm, something that is only achieved with hard work and plenty of effort. To perform in front of such a critical audience has to be admired, especially when it is in front of a crowd of ex buglers. At the end of the display the RM Band Portsmouth Corps of Drums was joined by the remaining members of the branch, wearing full ceremonials with bugles, in preparation for a short service to dedicate the new buglers' memorial board. The board names all the buglers that lost their lives during WW 1 and WW 2.
A great weekend was had by all, but the following morning it was back to work as usual. Rehearsals for the Mountbatten Festival of Music, started with a bang or was it a brush, a bucket or just a bin. The performance of the buglers at the Royal Albert Hall was one of the highest quality, in both carrying out our usual role and performing the “Stomp” style routine; our reputation has certainly been enhanced.
In January 2009 I received an email form Pat Robinson, a boy bugler during WW 2 and now living in Canada. He asked me if I knew the names of all the buglers who had lost their lives during the war. I contacted John Ambler at the Corps Museum, who I knew would help me in my quest, and we found the 22 names of the boy buglers and buglers that had died during WW2.
This got me thinking and as I walked down the corridor, outside the Blue Band office, I looked at the Band Memorial Boards from WW1 and WW2 and noticed that there were no buglers on either. This was because the buglers weren’t a part of the Band Service during the war years and not fully integrated until 1978. My reaction was to ask John if he could find the names from WW1 and then I could try and have a memorial board made. John researched all the names and finally found 55 names of buglers that had died during WW1. This puzzled me as there were no boy buglers; the term boy bugler wasn’t used during WW1 but many of them were only 14 years of age. It is believed that the youngest service person to die in WW2 was boy bugler PJH Avant who served onboard HMS Fiji.
I approached the Corps funds with my project; they were kind enough to give me the go ahead for the board, and then all I had to do was find someone to make it. BdCSgt Dave Bromley had produced the Honours and Award boards, so that is where I began. He told me that it was all possible but he had no skill in carving, so I asked a friend of a friend and finally got in contact with Peter Slee from RMR Tyne. I explained what I wanted and gave him the dimensions required. I asked him how much would it cost; he replied by saying he didn’t want anything. This I found to be a very thoughtful gesture, one I returned by ensuring he and his wife, Christine, had a great view of the Mountbatten Festival of Music. Once the carvings were done, Dave constructed the board and sent it to the sign writer for finishing.
The only thing left to do was to have the board dedicated. The buglers' reunion was scheduled for February and that seemed to be the perfect time. I contacted Reverend Martin Poll, the Naval Base Chaplain, who was pleased to be of help and the short ceremony at the beginning of the night proved to be perfect. As the Chaplain gave the blessing, 40 buglers came to the ready and under the direction of the Corps Bugle Major, WO2 Lee Cullen, sounded the dedication fanfare. The following day I was approached by BdCpl Dave Davies who asked if his uncle’s name was on the board. He gave me his name and there onboard HMS Hood was 14 year old boy bugler KJ Davies, Dave’s uncle.
The board will be placed close to the musicians' boards in the School of Music - a truly fitting tribute, to all those young men and boys, that lost their lives during WW1 and WW2.
Last updated 5 August 2010