1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums
A Standard & A Shield
Author - Drummer Mike Boxall
A Standard and A Shield
Two Cinque Ports Corps of Drums Engagements, Sunday 28th June 2009
Royal British Legion Standards ruffling gently in the breeze; rows of medals glinting in the sun; the names on the War Memorial black against the stone. A quiet Sunday morning in Southborough, Kent – shattered by six bugles of The Cinque Ports Corps of Drums sounding Regimental Call and Fall In.
Shortly afterwards the peace was disturbed again as we played It’s a Long Way to Tipperary to lead the Standards, British Legion and Forces members down to St. Peter’s Church. We were all there for the laying-up of the old Southborough and High Brooms RBL Standard, and the dedication of the new Standard.
We played everyone in with our 1914-18 Medley and were last into the Church to find the pews and aisles packed, and a bagpiper playing in the old Standard with Auld Lang Syne – a job we’d been asked to do. I was looking forward to hearing him tackle our other job in the church - sounding Last Post and Reveille. But when the time came that went as planned with our bugles, sounding suitably martial, echoing around the old stone walls.
After the service we formed up outside to lead the new Standard and the RBL Members through Southborough to Victoria Hall for their post-service char and wads. The three-quarter mile march in the hot sunshine was just long enough to play through our stock marches, and, thankfully, was downhill all the way. About half way down we had to deploy into single file to let an ambulance through. A quick head-count established it hadn’t come for one of us, so after it had passed we expanded back out into our ranks of threes. And we hadn’t broken step or stopped playing – years of practice finally paying off!
At Victoria Hall we all did a quick change followed by a Le Mans style start as we drove off to our next engagement that day – supporting an Army Benevolent Fund collection by playing between innings at a cricket match at Sheffield Park, Sussex.
This was no ordinary cricket match, though. Players for The National Trust Old England XI and Lord Sheffield’s Australian XI were celebrating the re-opening of the historic cricket ground which, from 1884 to 1896, had been the site of the Australian Touring teams’ opening matches. The famous Sheffield Shield, the trophy for the winners of Australia’s First Class competition, was on display along with a cap worn by W.G. Grace.
Also on display, in a side tent, was a magnificent collection of bottles of cool Cobra beer, but this mysteriously disappeared following the arrival of the Cinque Ports Drummers. Colonel Cook, our Army Benevolent Fund host, who had kindly arranged this refreshment soon gave us the ‘you’re on’ so it was pick up your monkeys and parrots and follow the Drum Major.
After entering from beside the pavilion, with Galanthia, we set off on clockwise circuits of the outfield playing our standard marches. I soon began to realise that we’d probably stumbled across the answer to a question that has puzzled students of German folklore for centuries. Judging by the number of small children milling around us as we marched, the Pied Piper of Hamlin must have been playing something that sounded like The Great Escape, 1914-18 Medley, Killaloe and The Adjutant.
After bringing us to a halt in front of the pavilion, the Drum Major exchanged courtesies with a representative from the Australian High Commission prior to marching us off. Then, with our slouch hats at a suitably Antipodean angle, we launched into Waltzing Matilda before exiting to The British Grenadiers.
Making our way back to our tent and further refreshments, some pleasant comments from members of the crowd helped confirm our feeling that we’d brought a little Corps of Drums magic to two different audiences that day.
Although late sleepers living near Southborough Church that Sunday morning might have a different view…