The Cinque Ports Corps of Drums at Military Odyssey and Ardingly College
In 1921 the 3M company invented a sandpaper with a waterproof backing. Known as ‘Wet
and Dry’, this fine abrasive can be used to finish surfaces like a normal sandpaper
or by using water as a lubricant. As we found out this August and September, The
Cinque Ports Corps of Drums can also be used to provide a fine finish in both (extremely)
wet and dry conditions. First the wet…
August Bank Holiday Monday disproved the old country saying ‘rain before 7, done
by 11’. It was raining as we travelled to the Kent Show Ground at Detling for the
final day of Military Odyssey 2014, raining all the time we were there and still
raining when we left. Our normal ‘marching and playing’ routine couldn’t go ahead,
but the organisers had obviously been watching us carefully last year as they sent
us to the large indoor bar to perform.
Ranged around three sides of a small dance floor we played a first set of our standard
marches and retreats to a small and damp audience mainly made up of English Civil
War re-enactors. Our playing probably reminded them that, as Colonel William Barriffe,
a great influence on the armies of the Civil War, said: “the Drum is the voice of
the Commander, the spur of the valiant and the heart of the coward.”
After lunch, in our second set, we again provided a spur to the valiant by having
some Royal Marine Cadet acquaintances of our Drummer Martin join us on side drums
for a few tunes. When normal service had been resumed, we finished our set with Trumpet
Tunes and our Sussex Medley before changing and going our several ways home through
the still torrential rain.
Fortunately our next outing, to Ardingly College in West Sussex, took place on a
dry day with pleasant sunshine. We were there to add to the military flavour of the
College’s World War 1 Commemoration Service and to provide music to accompany the
dedication of a new Banner for Ardingly CCF.
Having got ourselves into a public school frame of mind by changing in the cricket
pavilion, we marched on to the small square in front of the school chapel promptly
at 10.30. Surrounded on three sides by pupils, teachers, old boys and guests we performed
our Beating Retreat routine, albeit with rather tighter circles during the 14-18
Medley than we’re used to.
Judging by the glass-like surface of the square, we suspected its normal use is as
a skating rinkbut we all managed to stay upright (just) and brought our display
to a close with The National Anthem. The Drum Major asked permission to march off
fromBrigadier Max Marriner QCVS CBE, an old boy of the school and commander of British
forces in Iraq until 2012.
We then formed up outside the Chapel to play incidental music while the Ardingly
‘old boys’ and guests entered. One ‘old boy’ present was the actor Frank Williams
who played the part of the Vicar in Dad’s Army. I think we all know who our Private
Pike is, and our Private Fraser, but opinion is divided on which of us is most like
When it was time for retiring the old CCF Banner and dedicating the new one, we played
the 50 year old Banner on with Auld Lang Syne, then played out the newly dedicated
new Banner with Sussex By The Sea. We then marched the new Banner round to the CCF
Headquarters to Galanthia.
It only remained to take group photos, which proved difficult until we found something
to take them with. Photos successfully captured on Drummer Lear’s mobile phone, we
retired to the pavilion for a light lunch kindly provided by the School.
So, with our wet ‘sandpaper’ session now a distant memory, this dry session came
to a fine finish.