Royal British Legion Tenterden 90th Birthday Celebrations
Supporting the ABF The Soldiers Charity
Scribe Mike Boxall
The end of July saw the Corps in action twice in a week. First taking part in the
90th year celebrations for the Royal British Legion, Tenterden Branch, and then supporting
A.B.F. The Soldiers’ Charity with a collection at the Ladies’ Day cricket match at
Sussex CCC’s ground at Hove.
For Tenterden R.B.L.’s celebration our old friend and Vice-President of The Corps
of Drums Society, Colonel Peter Walton (Retd), had arranged a suitably military-themed
display. The ‘Diehard’ Company, members of the Victorian Military Society, provided
displays of drill and rifle firing while we ‘Cinque Porters’, nearly at full strength
with 20 ‘on parade’, provided the Corps of Drums music.
The Diehards based their performance on the ‘Field Exercise and Evolutions of Infantry:
1877’ manual, which instructed the Victorian soldier in the use of the Martini Henry
rifle. I’m not sure which manual our Drum Major carries in his head, but our practice
in the morning clearly wasn’t always ‘per the manual’.
After our lunchtime sandwiches we sallied forth undaunted into a three-part display.
For the Opening Ceremony we marched on playing The Great Escape and then played The
British Grenadiers to march on The Diehards. After the General Salute (the first
eight bars of Scipio in double time), we paused for inspection by The Mayor, Cllr.
Phillip Carley. The Inspection over, we played the Diehards off with The British
Grenadiers again and then played ourselves off with Killaloe.
Our second appearance was a straight-forward ‘marching and playing’ display. Marching
on with Galanthia, we halted and then marched in slow time to Mountain Echoes breaking
into quick time to play The Adjutant. We then played Trumpet Tunes at the halt before
marching off to For Flag and Empire.
For our final display we marched on with Prussia’s Glory and then concentrated on
getting the right timing to come up together mid-way through the side-drum introductions
to the bugle fanfare Westminster and the slow march The King of the Fairies.
Once that was achieved, it was into the ‘bomb-burst’ splitting of the Corps during
Euterpe and ‘going round in circles’ for 1914-18 and The Londoner. We ended by playing
The Jigs at the halt. This has not always been a trouble-free piece as solos and
ensemble playing alternate and flutes and drumsticks have to come up together at
various points throughout.
The Jigs marked the end of our display and the beginning of the finale. For this
we played on The Diehards, and then a flutes introduction enabled our star buglers,
Dave Kirby and David Lear M.B.E., to advance to the front of the Corps to sound Retreat.
As the last haunting bugle notes faded away, a drum roll prepared us to play The
National Anthem. After the anthem the Drum Major asked permission to march off, and,
permission being granted, we played The Diehards off with The Rogue’s March (to show
that we had been watching them), and then we marched off playing our own Sussex Medley.
Refreshing ourselves with the excellent tea and cakes provided by Sylvia Elsey and
a consortium of Tenterden ladies, we could reflect on a good day out. Our three performances
had been a great chance for nearly our full Corps to perform together, and it had
been a pleasure to be part of the 90th year celebrations of one of the RBL’s first
In too good time as it turned out, as SKY Sport TV interviews ran on and on. You’d
think people had come to see the cricket and not us! Finally, though, we got the
nod and marched on with Euterpe.
Halting in front of the main stand to play The King of The Fairies provided us with
another chance to prove that we could all come up together at the right point in
the side-drum introduction.
We then gave the spectators The Adjutant on the march before halting again for The
Jigs. Next came The Great Escape then our final piece at the halt, Trumpet Tunes.
We marched off to our Sussex Medley, which, with its first tune Sussex By The Sea,
proved a winner with the county crowd.
Although this engagement had been a long drive for some members and had been cut
short by TV interviews, it was nevertheless just the sort of ‘bread and butter’ job
that makes The Cinque Ports R.V. Corps of Drums worth belonging to.
We got to play our music to people who probably hadn’t heard much, if any, Corps
of Drums music before, we enjoyed each others’ company again and, best of all, we
heard from our ABF contact, David Stevens, that the collection had raised over £800.
‘Proper job’, as they might say in Sussex.
Three days later a smaller Corps of 14 members assembled at Sussex County Cricket
Club’s Eaton Road ground in Hove. There to support an A.B.F. The Soldiers’ Charity
collection, we kitted up and fell in on the outfield in good time.