1st Cinque Ports Rifle Volunteers Corps of Drums

Two Anniversaries

Operation Dynamo 26th May & Cadet 150 28th May 2010

Scribe Mike Boxall

Two Anniversaries

May 2010


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 Needless to say, the warm sunshine of the early part of the week had been replaced by grey skies and a cold wind.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.


Home.2010 Review.Liverpool.Clandon Park 2010.Herstmonceux Castle.
Home.2010 Review.Liverpool.Clandon Park 2010.Herstmonceux Castle.

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 themselves well.

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.