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Subject: 24th REGIMENT BAND Sat Jan 09, 2010 12:06 pm
24th REGIMENT BAND
The Welch Regiment/ The Royal Regiment of Wales
by John Marsh
The earliest reference to a 24th regimental band appears in ‘Records of the 24th Regiment’ and reads: “Dublin, 16th May 1771 – the regiment has a band of music”, but how effective this was may be open to doubt when one sees in a Return of Musicians for 1801 (Appendix A) by Mr. Hugh McBride, Master of the Band, that the Band consisted of 11 bandsmen, 2 fifers and a drummer, the youngest being 11 years old with four years’ service and the oldest 50 with 36 years’ service! In another List of Bandsmen dated 1812 (Appendix C) there are interesting features in the remarks column alongside the musicians’ names one reads, “Very lame and not likely to be much better” and another “not likely to play”! Perhaps one should say “from little acorns big oak trees grow”.
In 1840, the band is described as being dressed in white double breasted coatees, collar cuffs and turn backs of green, large epaulets of green worsted, white stripes on trousers and shako ornamented with a red ball. In about 1873 white clothing for the band was discontinued.
Prior to 1881 when the Regiment first became associated with Wales, the Regimental march was The Warwickahire Lads after its connection with that county in earlier years. This march was composed by Charles Dibdin about the year 1768. From 1881, the quickstep of the Regiment was The March of the Men of Harlech, an old tune which appeared as a Welsh Harp Air in the 1794 edition of Edward Jones’s ‘Relics of the Welsh Bards On the 16th of March, 1878, the band of the 1/24th was left at King William’s Town to be drilled in artillery and left that station with two seven-pounder muzzle loading guns for Itelezi and Mount Kempt where they did good service with the newly arrived 2nd Battalion of the Regiment. An extract from a letter from Horse Guards dated 5/6/78 and signed by R.C.H. Taylour, O.A.G., reads:
“H. R. H. has specially noted that two guns were manned by the band of the 1st /24th Regiment during the action on April 30th and he considers that the cheerful spirit thus evinced for the general good and benefit of the public service is must creditable”. In the Zulu War of 1879, the band of the 1st Battalion was in the camp at Isandhlwana which was annihilated, one of the six soldiers of the 24th who survived the battle being Bandsman E. Wilson (a copy of his personal account of the action and subsequent escape from the field of battle is held in the Regimental Museum). Prior to the Zulu attack the bandsmen had been detailed as ammunition carriers, cooks and stretcher bearers, and Wilson was one of the latter.
The 2nd Battalion also lost members of their bend on that fatal day including their Bandmaster, Harry T. Bullard.A rather interesting point is brought to light concerning the Bandmaster of the 1st Battalion, who, as a result of his status, and unlike his counterpart Bandmaster Bullard of the 2nd Battalion, was not present at the battle of Isandhlwana. This man, C. G. Burck, became Bandmaster in 1871 and served with the 1st /24th in various stations prior to accompanying the Battalion to South Africa. The reason why Burck failed to accompany his Battalion on active service remained obscure until research indicated that he may well have been a civilian and not a member of the Regiment. It had long been the practice of certain regiments to engage civilian Bandmasters, usually German or French nationals as they were often considered to be better musicians, the payment for these men being borne by the Officers’ Mess funds. An Army Order of 1814 prohibited foreigners employed as Bandmasters from taking part in military operations, and in the case of Burck this may have been a lifesaver. Following the Army Reform Act of 1881 and the possible rescinding of the order of 1814, or perhaps as the result of being granted British nationality, C. G. Burck was appointed to the rank of Warrant Officer on 5th September, 1882, and continued to serve as such until 4th September, 1889.
An old Sergeant-Bandmaster of the 1st Battalion from 1869 to 1878, Harry Rattray, became the oldest Chelsea Pensioner of the Regiment. He was killed through enemy action on 16th April, 1941, when Chelsea Hospital was damaged in the London Blitz. He was in his 102nd year. At the age of ninety he composed a march entitled The March of the Clansmen of the Braemar Gathering which was inspired from a photograph of three veteran members of the Braemar Gathering in 1929. In 1914 the 1st Battalion Band want to France with the Regiment and during the retreat from Mons came under heavy shell fire which caused many casualties in the Band. A unique distinction to the Regiment is that the Bandmaster of the 2nd Battalion, Mr. P. O’Donnell (1882) had three sons who all joined the Regiment and went on to become Directors of Music. At one time the three brothers, P.S.G. O’Donnell, R. P. O’Donnell and B. Walton O’Donnell were simultaneously Directors of Music Royal Marines; one at Chatham, one at Portsmouth and one at Plymouth and all three brothers received the M.V.O.Kneller Hall has on two occasions been commanded by officers of the Regiment. Colonel Farquhar Glennie in 1893 and Colonel Campbell-Miles 1951-1955. Four of the most outstanding of the Regiment’s Bandmasters over the years have been Charles Ancliffe (1st Bn. 1900-18) whose Nights of Gladness waltz is world famous; D. J. Plater (2nd Bn. 1923-26) who was renowned for his march compositions. He became Director of Music Royal Tank Regiment in 1926 where he stayed until 1947 when he became the first Director of Music R.E.M.E; Major W.G. (Polly) Willcocks (2nd Bn. 1926-37) who became Director of Music Irish Guards. During Polly Willcocks period with the 2nd Battalion this band was without doubt one of the most outstanding bands in the whole of the British Army. In successive years 1932, 1934 and 1935 they had a Kneller Hall Inspection Report of Outstanding, a feat believed to be unsurpassed; and Lieutenant Colonel S.V. Hays who went on to become Director of Music Honorable Artillery Company in 1978.
On the outbreak of the war in 1939 Bandmaster Hays and the Band Boys of the 2nd Battalion, stationed at Londonderry at the time, were sent to Brecon and immediately set about forming a new bend known as the Infantry Training Centre Band, which became a first-class band and toured extensively in Wales and England and visited the 2nd Battalion in the front line in Holland. In 1947, the 2nd Battalion went into suspended animation and the War Office directed that this band should join the 1st Battalion; their Band having become defunct over the war years.
In November 1947 Bandmaster Hicknan, a few bandsmen and a number of hand boys set sail for Cyprus to form the 1st Battalion Band. In 1955 Mr. Hicknan was succeeded by Bandmaster Ollie Whiting who was to be the last Bandmaster of the 24th Foot for in June 1969 the 24th amalgamated with the 41st Foot to form The Royal Regiment of Wales.
Bandsmen have always been known as the “Gentlemen of the Regiment”. The following appears in the 1905 edition of 2nd Battalion Standing Orders:“Bandsmen being better educated, and in a position superior to the rank and file, must remember that more is expected of them. Their conduct should be beyond reproach and in their dress and bearing they should be the smartest men in the Battalion. A bandsman who was awarded a Regimental entry will be struck off the establishment of the Band for at least three months.”
LIST OF BANDMASTER 1st Battalion 2nd Battalion Mr J NoBride 1793-1802 Mr P Waters 1865-1878 Mr J Clarke 1863-1869 Mr H Bullard 1878-1879 Mr H A Rattray 1869-1878 Mr R Goodings 1879-1884 Mr G Tamplini 1878-1882 Mr A Preece 1884 Mr G C Burck 1882-1889 Mr P O’Donnell 1884-1905 Mr J A Caborn 1889-1890 Mr F Ripp 1905-1906 Mr C W Ancliffe 1900-1918 Mr J C Roberts 1906-1915 Mr T Taylor 1918-1922 Mr H Fenner 1915-1923 Mr J L Gecks 1922-1934 Mr D J Plater 1923-1926 Mr C Eldicott 1934-1941 Mr G H Willcocks 1926-1937 Mr W J Hickman 1946-1955 Mr S V Hays 1937-1946 Mr 0 R Whiting 1955-1969 APPENDIX A A letter dated 9th October 1801 from the master of the band, Mr Hugh NcBride, to General Whyte, giving details ot service and pay of bandsmen. Sir Yesterday I was honoured with a letter from you and am sorry to find, your former letter by some misfortune has never reached me. If it had I assure you Sir your orders should have been immediately obeyed. Return of musicians of the 24th Regiment with their age and length of service. Plymouth, 9th October 1801 Name Age Servitude Extra pay by the Regt per day Sergt NoBride 45 34 yrs 7 mnths 1s 6d Wm Harrison 29 20 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d John Houghton 50 36 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d Noses Thomas 26 13 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d Wm Lavender 34 24 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d John Brett 24 15 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d Peter NcGuire 16 7 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d Wm Rourke 14 6 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d Edward Worrall 16 6 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d Mich Bailey 13 3 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d Alex Crofswell 17 4 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d Corp McKenney 29 16 yrs 6 mnths 1s 2d N.B. There are also two fifers under my care Jms Crofswell 11 4 yrs Wm Perkins 11 3 yrs Dennis McGary the only one with the regiment.
A letter dated 9th October 1801 from the Master of the band, Mr. Hugh McBride.
Sir I have taken the greatest pleasure in the profession of a Soldier, and am sorry to say, after such a length of Servitude, in a Variety of Climates, and blowing wind instruments such a number of years, has impaired my health and constitution much as to render it painful for me to do my duty as I could wish; and as promises have often been made that something would be done for me; I humbly request, Sir that you will be good enough to use your interest that I may be provided for, as far as you think deserving. General England, whom I had the honour of serving under for near twenty years; is of course the best able to inform you Sir, how far I am worthy your notice and protection. I have reason to think from the very great indulgence shown me by General England, had the General remained in the Regiment till now, he would have done what I hope Sir you will do, since I have in some measure lost my greatest friend. Plymouth 9th Oct 1801
I am Sir Your Obedient & very humble servt Hugh McBride Sgt 24th Regt
List of Bandsmen 1/24th – 1812 Sgt Crofswell 1st Clarinitt & Bassoon occasionally Jms Brett 1st Clarinet& Flute occasionally Jms McGuire 1st Clarinet Henry Herold 1st Clarinet Edward Worrall 2nd Clarinet Jms Smith 2nd Clarinet (very lame and not likely to be much better) James Butler 1st Bassoon (on leave at present) Michael McGuire 2nd Bassoon (likely to be a good hand) Jms Love learning the Bassoon Thos Hinton Bass Horn (likely to be a good one) W Routh 1st Flute W Patten learning the Flute Jms Herold 1st Horn W Harrison 2nd Horn Samuel Miller learning the 2nd Horn – not likely to play Wm Collins Trumpet & Bugle (failing) Jms Johnson Tambourine Paul Maurice Bass Drum Danl Frederick Cymbals
Signed. A Crofswell Sgt 24th Regt We thank Major Bob Smith, Curator Tahnks to Major Bob Smith, Curator of the South Wales Borderers and Mormouthshire Regimental Museum for supplying the article and appendix’s, also our thanks to Mr. Brian Shorthouse who brought the documents to our attention
Subject: Re: 24th REGIMENT BAND Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:43 pm
Bandsman E. Wilson [color=yellow](a copy of his personal account of the action and subsequent escape from the field of battle is held in the Regimental Museum)[/color]
I have been searching for weeks to find this gentleman’s account of his escape from Isandlwana. (No joy) Can anyone point me in the right direction apart from the museum?.
Posts : 3158 Join date : 2009-03-03 Location : Devon
Subject: Re: 24th REGIMENT BAND Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:52 pm
Hi Mr Greaves
I have this statement in my database, I do not know if it is the same as what is in the Museum.
Statement by Private E. WILSON I was one of the band of the 1/24th Regiment, on the 22nd January 1879 I was in the Camp at Isandhlwana. The Regiment fell in about 8 a.m., the 'Fall in' going while we were at breakfast, and marched to the Camp of the 2/24th Regiment. The Bandsmen were told off as stretcher-bearers, ammunition carriers, and cooks. I was one of the stretcher party which fell in with the Regiment, the remainder remaining in Camp. The Regiment remained under arms up to 10-30 or 11 a.m., when Colonel Durnford's parry came in. Soon after which E Company, 1/24th, Lieutenant Cavaye in charge moved out to the left the remainder were marched back to our own private parade grounds, and were then dismissed with orders not to take off their accoutrements. We were told to get our dinners as quick as possible, and to be in readiness to fall in at any moment. The 'Fall in' sounded about a quarter of an hour later, and the Regiment marched off to the left front of the Camp. I myself went to the Hospital tent to get a stretcher; while I was on my way to rejoin my Company, I first heard firing on the hills to the left of the Camp. I could not at this time see anything of E Company, 1 /24th, which was out of sight. The RA guns were in action, one firing to the left and one to the right front, a Company was lying in support in rear of them. I was going to join this Company but was ordered by the doctor to join the four Companies remaining on the parade ground. About ten minutes after these Companies were sent out to the front of the Camp in skirmishing order. The stretcher-bearers were out with their Companies for some ten minutes when we were ordered by Dr Sheppard to go to the Hospital tents, as he said there would be too many wounded for us to attend to. As we were going down the ammunition was beginning to be brought to the Companies. While in the Hospital tent I saw the hills to the left and in front covered with Zulus advancing on the Camp. To the right front some of the Police, Carbineers and Native Levies were engaged very hotly and retiring on the Camp. They made a stand for some time in a sluit which crossed the front of the Camp, but were driven out of it after a quarter of an hour or 20 minutes. When the idlers and men among the tents were now making the best of their way out of Camp, the Doctor told us we were no longer likely to be of any use, and the Band Sergeant told us we had better get away as best we could. I with another man began to retire on the hill in rear of the Camp taking a stretcher, but we were told by a Carbineer that we had better clear out altogether, we then dropped the stretcher and followed the men who had gone before towards the Buffalo. About half a mile from Camp I caught a horse and rode him down to the river where I lost him in crossing. Some 50 or 100 yards on the Natal side I met Private Bickley, 1/24th Regiment some way on I got a spare horse from a Volunteer and rode up to Helpmakaar where I arrived about 7-30 p.m., in company with Sergeant Norton of the Mounted Infantry.
Posts : 7077 Join date : 2009-04-24 Age : 52 Location : Down South.
The band of the 1/24th Regiment of Foot, photographed in 1878 in South Africa, played cheery, morale-boosting melodies as the regiment marched to the killing fields of Zululand;out of the entire band only two survived.
LH. Thanks for posting. Bit of a long shot, but do you know some of the names of these chaps?
Posts : 10236 Join date : 2009-04-07 Age : 64 Location : Melbourne, Australia
Subject: 24th Regt Band Sat Jul 13, 2013 4:44 am
Hi Littlehand . Dont know where my post went regarding your band picture , which originally stated all the Bandsmen were killed , as I did post Privates Bickley & Wilson were the two Band survivors of Isandlwana . 90th