This article doesn’t compare the Cinque Ports side-drummers and flute players. It
describes two events the Corps played at in June 2013.
The first event was the ‘Steaming through the 40s’ weekend at the Spa Valley Railway
on 23rd June. Having set our alarm clocks and filled our cars’ petrol tanks, most
of us arrived at Eridge Station outside Tunbridge Wells a little before 0830. We
had to be kitted up and ready to catch the 0930 train to Groombridge Station.
The train arrived, our Bass Drummer hadn’t. News came through that he’d suffered
shortages of alarms and petrol but would join us at Groombridge. Luckily he did and
we were able to give the sleeping villagers a few Corps of Drums marches as a spirited
‘reveille’ before forming up on the platform to welcome the next train in with our
We then en-trained to be drawn back to Eridge by the steam engine ‘Ugly’. Built in1950
to work heavy iron ore trains, the engine got its name from having a short saddle
tank and a large raised firebox. You’ll need to ask a train-spotter why that combination
is ugly – but make sure you have an hour or two to spare.
Back at Eridge, before our next session we enjoyed a quick cuppa and some 1940s songs
from an Andrews Sisters inspired group of local young ladies. We then formed up among
a fascinating collection of historic British and American WW2 army vehicles to play
a couple of sessions at the halt.
We alternated between standards from our display repertoire – The Jigs, 14-18 Medley,
The Londoner Medley etc. – with some from further back in our playing memories like
Trumpet Tunes and The Rogues March. A goodly crowd of re-enactors and young families
gathered and seemed to enjoy what they heard.
The following weekend, 29th June, saw us again making an early start (all alarm clocks
and petrol gauges having worked perfectly) to arrive in Worthing by 10 o’clock for
the first day of The West Sussex Armed Forces Weekend.
After changing in the ever-welcoming Chatsworth Hotel we formed up to march in file
to an open area in the pedestrian precinct for a static performance. With five side-drums,
bass drum, cymbals, four Bbs an Eb piccolo and an F flute ‘on parade’ we gave a good
account of ourselves playing much the same static repertoire as on the previous weekend.
Our afternoon session in Steyne Gardens was preceded by something beautiful – several
low level fly-pasts by a MkIIC Hawker Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Memorial
Flight. As the sound of the Hurri’s Rolls- Royce Merlin engine faded into the distance
we marched on playing Galanthia.
To a good crowd of onlookers in the bright sunshine we then performed our standard
marching display – bugle fanfare Westminster, King of the Fairies, Euterpe, 14-18
Medley, The Londoner Medley, The Jigs and The Adjutant before marching off to The
British Grenadiers and Sussex By The Sea.
In the programme for the day’s events, the Mayor of Worthing noted the particular
significance of Armed Forces Day for the people of Worthing and West Sussex. With
Cinque Ports in our title and several ex-servicemen in our ranks, it was a pleasure
to once again support Worthing’s tribute to our Armed Forces.