I was born inStratford London E 15. 1922
At the age of 10 we moved to Laindon in Essex. It has completely vanished under the post-war new town of Basildon now.
I learned to play the tenor horn at the Manor Mission having a flourishing troop of Boy Scouts and a lively company of Girl Guides. I joined the 3rd Laindon (Manor Mission) Boy Scouts in 1933.
In 1934 it was decided to form a scouts brass band. Not a drum and bugle outfit which was traditional to Scouts and the Boys Brigades, but a full blooded BRASS BAND.
I was working as an electro-plater in a local factory and the chap in charge of machinery maintenance, Jack asked me to play in a jazz group in Southend and known as the ‘Bandstand Gang’ who were a trumpet player short It was carnival week and regarded as the last for some time So along I went. I was out ‘of my depth. They played without music and I did not have enough experience but which later on I contrived to acquire’
On January 4th 1941 I leapt on my trusty bicycle and attended the combined recruiting centre in Romford. The RAF was urgently requiring men to train as wireless operater/airgunners which I became..
Now 2 Wing had a dance orchestra where I joined playing 2nd trumpet..
There was also another musical ensemble, the station voluntary military band membership open to any school resident. Along I went and took up playing cornet. Ha ha, this also gave the member a weekend leave pass opportunity..
In July 1943 I found myself stranded by circumstances at a place often featured in Indian writings called Poona in India. (Of the heat we do not speak) and there I spent my 21st birthday. They had a small musical group with the grandiose title of ‘The White Wings’ Cabaret. This rather pretentious outfit comprised a Flight-Sergeant playing alto sax, also a drummer and a pianist and as a jazz trumpeter I was welcomed with open arms.
“But I have no trumpet” I cried. A certain Sergeant service policeman volunteered to finance such a shortcoming and I was sent by train to Bombay (Mumbai to you) to purchase the required instrument
This I did. I don’t remember who made it but India to this day has a useful industry in the manufacture of musical instruments. I believe the donor expected me to buy it from him but I declined.
We were in some demand in the Poona cantonment, as the European sector was known.
I still have the programme of a concert we gave in September at an Indian orphanage when the 1940 Battle of Britain was remembered. I don’t suppose for a minute that our audience appreciated what all THAT was about.
Finally came the day when we were sent home to retrain on Bomber Command.arriving at Liverpool on 4th January 1944.On March 29th I got married. After my demob I worked at Fords of Degenham. I then joined the police force and became a village cop for 6 very happy years. Promoted to Seargent then posted to Chelmsford n 1968.
In 1966 a Force brass band was formed which I joined I remember what we played first. “Lets try Slaidburn” said Bill the baton waver and I astonished myself how it all became delightfully familiar.. This was followed by what is and still is, one of my favourites ‘All in the April evening.. Now I was playing solo tenor and I discovered this part features prominently in the very tuneful arrangement for brass band by Eric Ball.
I then played cornet to fill shortages and eventually became principal. During this period, I also played with the Chelmsford Silver Band, having a spell on Soprano Cornet. In August 1966 there was a tragic occasion when three London policemen were murdered and the police band were asked to play at a memorial service in Chelmsford cathedral. We were obliged to seek assistance from members of Chelmsford Town band it being early days of our existence
I played with the Chelmsford band two years running at a series of summer concerts in Westminster Abbey gardens in London.This was a very relaxed affair which was thoroughly pleasant and we responded well to the occasion. I retired from the police force at age 55.
I then gained employment with the Lord Chancellors Department and was thus employed until the retirement age of 65 .For 8 years in that employment, I worked as a County Court Bailiff which I found “interesting”
In October 1992 we moved from Chelmsford to Exeter. The previous year my daughter Lorraine and her husband and family has gone there to live and thus we joined them coming to dwell just across the road from them. All went well and we were happy in our new surroundings. Edna became unwell in 2001 and after a spell in R D and E hospital; she died in July 2003 from the dreaded Big C. We had been married for 59 years and her passing left a very large cavern in my existence. What was I to do? Lorraine suggested I find a band to play in. In October 2003, I contacted Roger Barrons the Chairman of Exeter Railway Band and subsequently joined playing Tenor Horn. I have never regretted that decision. There rest is history.
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Welcome to the Exeter Railway Band