Commemorating the 90th Anniversary of Passchendaele

Belgium 24th to 25th August 2007







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1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums

Belgium 2007 (part 1)

Author - Drummer Mike Cheeseman

The 1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums was re-formed in December 2006. For our first outing we had been engaged to take part in a Scottish weekend, part of the commemorations for the 90th Anniversary of the 3rd Battle of Ypres also known as Passchendaele. Quite how we got involved in a Scottish weekend I am not sure anyone actually knows...


We had been rehearsing once a month at the Firepower Museum in Woolwich, although few members managed to attend every monthly meeting. But Drum Major Geoff Fairfax had drilled us hard, and we set off for Dover and the Channel crossing in confident mood.

(Rehearsal time)



All our Drummers made their own way to Dover where we transferred to a coach and the skills of our driver, Pete. The trip across the Channel proved uneventful and the route through France and Belgium was an interesting one. Navigating our way through Armentiers I had the feeling we had been going round in a circle when Drummer Nightingale pointed out that we had just entered Belgium for the second time! Were we navigating on a Tom Tom or a Geoff Geoff? This prompted cries that we were to hear often on this trip: “Are we nearly there yet, Drum Major?”


Finally arriving at our hostel accommodation at the Messines Peace Village, we bunked up 4 to a room (except the Drum Major who had the Penthouse Suite!). The schedule was tight, so there was just time to get our kit into the room, boots on and into dress down order and out on parade in the coach park. A quick run-through of our proposed routine at the Menin Gate was needed. It was here that we first encountered the Isle of Cumbrae Royal British Legion Pipes and Drums who were also staying at the Peace Village, more about them later…

Having had a quick blast, it was on the coach with all our kit for the short drive into Iper (Ypres) where the coach parked up in the picturesque town square. The Drum Major set off to liaise with the organiser of this jaunt, a mysterious figure known to us only as ‘Irwin’. He had amended the schedule numerous times before we had even set off from England, so our motto for the weekend was: ‘Be flexible’.

The Isle of Cumbrae Pipe Band did a quick warm up in the town square (as pipers are inclined to do), before the Corps formed up at 1930 hrs for our march to the Menin Gate. Looking a fine body of men and women in our scarlet tunics and with slouch hats at a particularly ‘jaunty’ angle, the Corps sounded the Regimental Call and Fall In.

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belgium rehearsal.wmv
Belgium the pipes.wmv