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1st Cinque Ports Rifles Volunteers Corps of Drums

Belgium 2007 (part 3)

Author - Drummer Mike Cheeseman

>>>>...When we arrived our piping friends were gathered in groups blowing and squeezing their windbags in every corner they could find. This was very much how it went on all morning - in fact all day - wherever we went. Now I quite like the pipes (or did), but after several hours I came to two conclusions: there is a serious manufacturing defect with bagpipes - they don’t have an ‘off’ switch, and after an hour or two all the tunes sound the same!

The man that made it all happen Erwin “The Exocet”

The Drum Major returned eventually from the ‘O’ group with Irwin with the news that we had a ten-minute slot in the Tattoo rather than the nineteen minutes we had been rehearsing all year. So it was our turn to make a noise and rehearse an amended program for the evening. The Drum Major managed to select a simply splendid football pitch covered in molehills, which was just the job for practising slow marching on. Soft patches of ground always seemed to be under your feet when marking time, too, so you slowly disappeared into the sandy Belgium soil.

After our short rehearsal had disturbed the slumber of the local moles we spent a lot of time waiting about for our rehearsal slot, while the sound of the pipes resounded through the grounds of the Chateau.

With time to fill there was more than one anxious glance at the very unstable looking chimneystack's atop the Chateau roof, one with some flimsy looking metal work supports, which didn’t give a lot of confidence that they wouldn’t come crashing to the ground at any moment.

When it was our turn to do our bit in the tattoo arena, it all went very well. Unfortunately the ground in the arena was not a lot better than our practice area - very soft, a bit like walking on a trampoline in places, and full pot holes. Slap bang in the middle of the display area there was a very large tree, which had to be negotiated. This brought some comments such as “That’s a stupid place to put a tree - in the middle of a parade ground”, but I don’t suppose when the gardens of the Chateau were laid out several hundred years ago they had forward planning in place for a Tattoo in the 21st century. We were very well looked after by the organisers who provided all the participants with drinks tickets during the morning and a Bar B Q at lunchtime. After lunch, as the temperature began to rise, it was time to change into our scarlet tunics for the afternoon’s activity, which was the commemoration of a new memorial to Scottish soldiers that fell during the fighting at Passchendaele in 1917.

 

It was just a short journey for man from Zonnebeke to the memorial site, but a very long wait for mankind! After a very hot 2-hour wait on the road in the assembly area (thank goodness the organisers supplied plenty of water) we eventually marched to the memorial, closely followed by the massed Pipes and Drums. Here we fell in beside the memorial and stood at ease, and that was how we remained for the next two hours! Go to Page: Belgium part 4

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