On the 8th of August 1903 the residents of Worthing gathered on Steyne Gardens to
honour the local men who had died in the recently ended Boer War. The memorial that
was unveiled that day records the names of the 26 Worthing men who perished, including
one of the RAMC who tended the wounded – one Private H. Boxall.
111 years later, an infinitely luckier Boxall joined the residents of Worthing at
Steyne Gardens to honour our currently serving troops, veterans and cadets on Armed
Forces Day. With the other members of the 1st Cinque Ports R.V. Corps of Drums this
modern Boxall, your humble scribe, first made his way to the South Street Precinct
to play a selection of Corps of Drums favourites for the early morning shoppers.
Playing for over half an hour to a good-sized crowd, we hopefully raised public awareness
of the events to come at Steyne Gardens. Returning to the welcome of the Chatsworth
Hotel on Steyne Gardens, we lunched before preparing for the afternoon’s main performance.
For Armed Forces Day, Steyne Gardens is transformed with a stage at the far end and
stalls around the edge promoting the work of the local regimental associations, veterans’
organisations and cadets. A NAAFI tent and a collection of preserved military vehicles
add to the ‘Forces’ atmosphere.
Augmented by Drummer Peter Hart, we were about to march on when another Peter made
a dramatic last-minute appearance. Peter Nightingale beat our resident quick-change
artiste Robert Bannister’s best time for a mufti-to-full-dress transformation. He
then joined the Corps, a little breathlessly, to enter the arena playing The Adjutant.
The rather restricted space in front of the stage prevented us doing our normal display.
We executed our ‘going round in circles’ evolution for The 1914-18 Medley, but it
was up and down with counter-marches for Euterpe and The Londoner Medley.
Halting facing the stage we then played Trumpet Tunes and The Jigs. Interestingly,
each of these pieces was arranged by a Guards Drum Major.
Trumpet Tunes consists of the trumpet tune from Purcell’s Trumpet Tune and Air and
the prelude of Charpentier’s setting of the Te Deum, arranged by Senior Drum Major
Guards Division Peter Foss, Scots Guards. The Jigs was an exisitng arrangement of
I’ll Gang Nae Mair Tae Yon Toon and The Rakes of Mallow to which Drum Major Reynold
Harry Trussler, Grenadier Guards, added Mairie’s Wedding.
At the end of ‘The Rakes’ our own Drum Major, Geoff Fairfax MBE, strode forward to
ask permission to march us off. Permission granted, we struck up Sussex’s ‘national
anthem’, Sussex By The Sea, and left the arena to heartening applause.
After changing in the hotel, we mingled with the crowds on Steyne Gardens visiting
the Armed Forces Day stalls and enjoying the music. Before making my way home, I
re-visited the Boer War memorial to reflect on the local men, and particularly the
RAMC man, who fell in South Africa so many years ago.
Supporting Worthing’s Armed Forces Day is always a pleasure for the 1st Cinque Ports
R.V. Corps of Drums, taking place as it does in our ‘home county’. It’s a welcome
opportunity to honour local men and women of the Armed Forces, past and present.