April 2015 Engagements

Caterham & Clandon

 

Scribe Mike Boxall

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A Prince Defeated, a General Victorious

 

The Cinque Ports Corps’ April 2015 Engagements

 

In April, Cinque Ports R.V. Corps of Drums engagements called to mind a Royal Prince and a General who became a national hero. First, the Prince…

 

Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany, was the second son of King George III and Commander-in-Chief of the British Army during the Flanders Campaign of 1793–4. After being heavily defeated at the Battle of Tourcoing he was recalled to England and a popular nursery rhyme has celebrated his exploits ever since.

 

On 12 April at Caterham, we Cinque Ports Drummers could sympathise with the old Duke’s men as we ‘marched right up to the top of the hill and marched right down again’ more often then we’d have liked. Our hill lead from the forming up point in White Knobs Park up to the road into Caterham, and the decision on whether we were to form up at the top of the hill or the bottom kept changing.

 

Finally we fell in at the bottom of the hill while behind us WW1 re-enactors, British Legion Standard Bearers, a RAFA Colour Party, Army, Royal Marine and Sea Cadets and Scouts assembled. We were all there to commemorate the centenary of Caterham’s WW1 Recruitment March which took place on 14th April 1915.

 

Just as in 1915, the parade was ‘headed by the drums and fifes’ so we set off playing The British Grenadiers up the steep slope. Thankfully it’s a short steep slope, so we were soon back on level ground and had a little more breath to spare for The Adjutant, Gallanthia, and Euterpe to lead the parade down to the saluting base at the Asprey Fountain in the centre of Caterham.

 

Here we turned off, counter-marched and halted to play the parade past with our First World War Medley. This is quite a long medley with repeats, but not half long enough for this parade. The dense crowd of spectators were treated to several repetitions of our medley as the widely-spaced groups straggled past the saluting base.

 

Members of the 4th (Second) Battalion of The Royal Sussex Regiment had been present recruiting at the parade in 1915, so our march off to Sussex By  The Sea was a not inappropriate end to our contribution to Caterham’s WW1 centenary commemoration.

 

Our next April engagement was our annual practice and performance day at The Surrey Infantry Museum at Clandon Park. The morning passed in traditional style as we grappled with the variations of this year’s marching display. In the early afternoon we tried to make up for the morning by performing the display without mistakes for the small but interested crowd.

 

Chief point of interest in this year’s display is the addition of our new Slow March, General Wolfe’s March. A very old tune, it is featured in ‘The Compleat Tutor for the Fife’, published by Thompson & Son of London in 1759. The march celebrates Major General James Wolfe, remembered chiefly for his victory over the French at the Battle of Quebec in the year the Tutor was published.

 

Leading His army up a 600 foot cliff from the river that was thought unclimbable, he defeated the French forces but was mortally wounded in the battle. His body was returned to England in state and he is buried in the family vault in St Alfege Church, Greenwich.

 

Interestingly, every member of The Cinque Ports R.V. Corps of Drums carries a memento of the Battle of Quebec on their uniform. The 35th Regiment of Foot, later to become The Royal Sussex our ‘parent’ Regiment, defeated the French Royal Roussillon Regiment during the battle. In recognition of their fine discipline in the engagement, authority was given for the Regiment to wear the Roussillons’ distinctive white plume. As a Sussex Corps, the Roussillon plume still stands behind the ‘Rifles’ Maltese cross on our badges today.

 

Showing some ‘fine discipline’ of our own, we finished our marching display by leading our friends the 2nd (Queen’s Royal) Regiment of Foot, 1809, for their drill and firing display before falling out for a well-earned tea break.

 

After tea, we reassembled on the back lawn of the House to play at our music stands. To begin with our audience was most noticeable for its absence, but in time a good number collected. We even had a chance to deploy ‘Kid’s Korner’, with Drummer Bannister as our Pied Piper luring the kiddies to bash along with us on his attractive selection of tambourines, maracas, cymbals and drums.

 

As a sad postscript to our day, a devastating fire ripped through the House on 29th April. The building is now a shell with collapsed floors and roofs. It isn’t clear how much, if any, of the exhibits in the Surrey Infantry Museum have survived, but aerial pictures of the building don’t inspire much hope.

 

Our commiserations go to the staff and volunteers of the Museum as we remember the warm welcome we always received at Clandon.

 

Mike Boxall

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