Worthing Armed Forces Day 2014

 

Scribe Mike Boxall

 

Honouring Local Men

Armed Forces Day, Worthing 2014

 

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.  

 

Mike Boxall

 

 

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