Operation Dynamo 26th May & Cadet 150 28th May 2010
Scribe Mike Boxall
Providing the music at two anniversaries gave The Cinque Ports R.V. Corps of Drums
a busy week at the end of May. We played at the 70th Anniversary Celebrations for
the Dunkirk Little Ships at Ramsgate Royal Harbour and Hurstpierpoint College’s parade
for Cadet150, the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Cadet movement.
At both events we got the chance to play the official march of the Royal Navy, Dr
William Boyce’s ‘Heart of Oak’. Yes, I know, I always thought it was Hearts, plural,
too, but no – the chorus goes:
Heart of oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men,
We always are ready; Steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.
Heart or hearts, the words are certainly very apt for the Little Ships of Dunkirk,
54 of which assembled again in Ramsgate on 26th of May to celebrate Dynamo Day, the
70th anniversary of the great evacuation. The celebrations included a Service for
Little Ships at the Sailors’ Church followed by a parade of Veterans and Civilian
Standards, sailors from HMS Collingwood and 18 historic vehicles from the 1940s.
We’d been asked to provide the Buglers for Last Post and Rouse in the Church and
a Corps to lead the parade. Needless to say, the warm sunshine of the early part
of the week had been replaced by grey skies and a cold wind. But outside the Church,
at the base of the cliffs, we were sheltered listening to the service and waiting
for Drummers Lear, Leigh, Cheeseman and Forbes to do their stuff on the bugles.
After their almost note-perfect performance it was time to fall in at the head of
the procession ready to march it around the Royal Harbour. We lead off with The Adjutant
and then into Heart of Oak as the parade passed the saluting base. There was then
only time for The British Grenadiers and Galanthia before we reached the end of the
short circuit of the Harbour.
Later, over lunch at Ramsgate’s very hospitable British Legion Branch, we discovered
that the Little Ships hadn’t been the only old maritime relics on display that morning
as our own John Leigh produced a photo of himself in a Sea Cadet Band marching round
that harbour in 1952.
The bracing sea air must have been good for us as only two days later we all assembled
again, this time at Hurstpierpoint in Sussex for the College’s Cadet150 celebrations.
The day’s events gave us three chances to play: the Cadets’ parade itself, a ‘music
stands’ session and a Beating Retreat in the evening.
With a full complement of side-drummers it fell to Robert Stone to play the cymbals,
an instrument we don’t include often enough. Taking to it with all the enthusiasm
we’ve come to expect of a side-drummer deprived of his drumsticks, he nevertheless
did sterling work the rest of the day.
At the parade we were joined by two young side-drummers from the College’s Cadets,
Tom and Sophie. Despite not having much chance to practise with us they acquitted
After marching on to Gallanthia, we played ‘General Salute’ (Scipio at double time)
for the Cadets’ Standard. The salute was to be taken by the current Lord Warden of
the Cinque Ports, Admiral the Lord Boyce GCB, OBE, DL. While he inspected the Cadets
we provided ‘incidental music’: The Great Escape, Prussia’s Glory, A Welsh Medley
and Retreat Marches.
The last Cadets the Admiral inspected were the small Naval contingent, so we launched
into our new party piece, Heart of Oak. After being nearly caught out by an unexpected
second ‘General Salute’, we marched the Cadets off to The British Grenadiers until
the last section off, the Naval Cadets who, of course, got Heart of Oak again.
Later, promptly at 1800 hrs, we received the nod and after Regimental Call and Fall
In marched on to Galanthia to perform our now standard Beating Retreat. Admiral,
The Lord Boyce was not the only uniformed figure in the sizeable crowd, so there
were probably more than a few shudders at the quality of our slow marching.
However, after Drummer Leigh had given us his best Retreat on the bugle and we marched
off to Sussex by the Sea, the crowd gave us a very pleasing send off. So our week
of anniversaries ended on a high and we could look back on two more events where
our Corps of Drums music had added that little bit extra to the occasion.
The session around the music stands in the afternoon sunshine was a pleasant run
through our marches from ‘The Book’. Billed as a ‘masterclass’ we were joined by
three Cadets learning side-drum and even attracted another enthusiastic young lady
keen to have a bash on the bass drum.