"Corps Bandmaster, sound the dedication fanfare"
The 1st of June 2010 began as a bright day, although there was a hint of rain in the air. The Headquarters building of the Royal Marines School of Music, originally built as a house, appeared to be bulging; straining at its seams as a disproportionate number of men and women arrived and made their way to offices and desks tucked amongst the equipment and paraphernalia which a normal house is not designed to hold. Preparations were in hand for the Inspection, a routine event but not without its element of anxiety for those being inspected – the Students of the Royal Marines School of Music. They knew that the inspection would be thorough, uncompromising and high standards would be expected of all.
However, today’s parade had an added element - an element rooted in an event of exactly sixty-two years ago that occurred on a day when, like today, the incoming weather was difficult to forecast. In 1948 the School, then the Royal Naval School of Music, was at Burford in Oxfordshire and the event was the Dedication of the Memorial Trumpets of the Royal Naval School of Music. Firstly the School Chapel of Saint Cecilia, the Patron Saint of Musicians, was dedicated by the Chaplain of the Fleet, accompanied by the School Chaplain and Ministers of all denominations. This was followed by the Dedication of the Memorial Trumpets themselves. In turn, each instrument was dedicated ‘In memory of those who gave their lives in the service of their country’ before being passed to each of the fourteen waiting men, the first Memorial Fanfare Team. This team was intended to be representative of the Band Service and consisted of two Bandmasters, four Band Sergeants, four Band Corporals, one Band Lance Corporal, two Musicians and one Band Boy. On the command, a Dedication Fanfare was sounded. ‘To Comrades Sleeping: The Spirit of Joy and Thanksgiving for Victory, and Meditation for those who gave their lives in its cause’ was a moving composition by Leon Young, a member of the wartime Royal Naval School of Music.
Dedication of 'The Memorial Silver Trumpets of the Royal Naval School of Music' 1st June 1948 at Burford, Oxfordshire
A month or so later a set of Rules for the use of not only the Second World War Memorials but also the First World War Memorials, the Silver Drums, was drawn up. These rules became the War Memorial Charter and it/s Rule 11 ‘Memorial Day’ stated that ‘…the Dedication Fanfare composed by Mr Leon Young, shall be sounded with due ceremony by the Fanfare Trumpets on the First of June each year’. When the Memorial Charter was re-written in 1953 the original Rule 11 became Rule 5 and the wording was expanded, becoming ‘On the 1st June each year the ‘Dedication Fanfare’ composed by Leon Young shall be sounded with due ceremony to mark the Dedication of the Memorial Trumpets which took place on the 1st June 1948, at the Royal Naval School of Music, Burford, Oxfordshire.’
The practice of sounding the fanfare on the 1st June certainly continued until 1964 when it attracted the largest parade for many years, probably because it was Corps Tercentenary Day. Bad weather forced the ceremony into the Deal Drill Shed. The following year ‘The Memorial Silver Trumpets of the Royal Marines School of Music’ were removed from service and replaced by new fanfare trumpets. The Memorials were then displayed in showcases in the RMSM Concert Hall at Deal. It is not known when the practice of sounding the Dedication Fanfare each year on the 1st June ceased, but one can speculate that it might have been when the original instruments were withdrawn from service in 1965.
On the 1st June 1998, shortly before 0815, the Staff, Junior Musicians and Junior Buglers assembled on the small parade within the Royal Marines School of Music, Portsmouth. It was the 50th Anniversary of the Dedication ceremonies at Burford. The parade was brought to attention by the Corps Drum Major and Lt Col Richard Waterer, Principal Director of Music and Commandant of the Royal Marines School of Music, took position with his officers and guests. He described the ceremony and the losses that were the reason for the Memorials and then introduced a particular guest. Accompanying the Representative Band of the Norwegian Armed Forces, at that time touring the south of England, was their announcer, Trevor Ford. On the 1st June 1948 Trevor had stood, wearing the uniform of a Band Boy, at the Royal Naval School of Music and watched the ceremony. He watched and listened as, fifty years later, Lt Col Waterer gave the command ‘Sound the Dedication Fanfare’ and, conducted by the Corps Bandmaster, the glorious strains of To Comrades Sleeping rang out. On this occasion it was sounded by the Fanfare Trumpeters of the Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines, Portsmouth.
Sounding the 'Dedication Fanfare' at the Royal Marines School of Music Portsmouth on the 50th Anniversary of the Dedication Service at Burford
It was a unique occasion but it was not to be repeated until, in 2009, WO1 Tom Hodge, the Corps Bandmaster, made enquiries about the ceremony itself, and its purpose, and asked the question ‘Why don’t we do it?’
Two years earlier the School of Music introduced annual visits to the Corps Museum by Musicians and Buglers at Term 3 level of training. The purpose was to broaden their knowledge of the part that the Royal Marines Band Service has played in the history of the Corps and the country – not just as Musicians but also in a military capacity during both peace and war. This is the ideal time for such a visit since, by now, they have developed an understanding of their environment, they have passed through initial military training, team spirit has been developed and they look and feel confident and keen. During the tour they learn, amongst many other things, of the military service of their forebears; they see the medals, they are shown the damaged musical instruments and they visit the Band Memorial Room. Here they are told the stories behind the set of Memorial Silver Drums for the First World War, and the Memorial Silver Trumpets of the Royal Naval School of Music for the Second World War. They look at the Book of Remembrance and realise that some of those who died were younger than they; they listen as the reasons why the Houses are named after the ships, Gloucester, Neptune, Eagle and Barham are explained. Many of this group of Students had just visited the Museum for their tour.
The sounding of the 'Dedication Fanfare' on the 1st June 2010
Students and staff on parade, Royal Marines School of Music, 1st June 2010
So it was fitting that on the 1st June 2010, on completion of the Commanding Officer's Inspection, the Musicians and Buglers under training marched off the parade only to return a short while later, now clad in raincoats as the weather became more inclement. This was to be the ending of the parade work, but also a beginning. The Corps Bandmaster had discussed his proposal that the 1st of June ceremony should become an annual event with others and the suggestion had been endorsed by the Principal Director of Music. The students stood with their backs to the Concert Hall as the Staff marched on to form on their left. To their right fourteen Musicians carrying fanfare trumpets marched on to the Parade. The Corps Bandmaster took position in front of them. The School Director of Music, Major Andy Thornhill, accompanied by the School Bandmaster, WO1 Dean Waller, marched on and addressed the parade. His explanation of why they were gathered on that particular day was followed by the words ‘Corps Bandmaster, Sound the Dedication Fanfare’ and, probably for the first time ever, a Fanfare Team of the Royal Marines School of Music, comprised entirely of Musicians under training, sounded ‘To Comrades Sleeping’. It is the intention that this simple ceremony will now take place on the 1st June every year.
Before the Second World War Leon Edward Stephen Young, a shop assistant, played in the brass section of his father’s Salvation Army Band. He was also the local church organist and choirmaster. In 1940 he joined the Royal Naval School of Music at Deal, just before it was relocated to Plymouth. On completion of training he was posted to HMS Pembroke, the Chatham Naval Barracks, with the rest of a band formed for service on a new cruiser, HMS Hermione. Once on board he organised a singing trio, accompanied by a drummer and also himself on piano. Hermione saw a lot of action culminating, unfortunately, in the Battle of Crete where she was torpedoed and sunk. Unusually, only one member of the band lost his life. Later in the war Leon Young joined Commissioned Bandmaster Charles Hotham’s RM Concert Orchestra where he not only played piano but was also the orchestra’s arranger. After the war he was employed by HMV and worked with many of the ‘stars’ and famous bands of the time. He also formed ‘The Leon Young String Chorale’ which featured regularly on the radio. He was invited, by the Royal Naval School of Music, to write the fanfare in memory of the men of the Royal Marine Bands who lost their lives.
Article © John Ambler. Images © Trustees of the Royal Marines Museum or © Crown.
Added to site 14 December 2010 from Summer 2010 Blue Band Magazine