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Brigade band to play at Menin Gate ceremony

Left to right, Brian White from Worthing, Richard Newman from Southwick, Ken Towner from Ferring and Barry McCann from Southwick. Below, the band at drill practice

Left to right, Brian White from Worthing, Richard Newman from Southwick, Ken Towner from Ferring and Barry McCann from Southwick. Below, the band at drill practice

MARCHING band members from Southwick, Worthing and Ferring are preparing for a trip to France and Belgium to commemorate the First World War.

They are part of the Bugles and Drums of the Stedfast Association, which is made up of ex-members and serving officers of the Boy’s Brigade and Girl’s Brigade from all over the country.

Richard Newman and Barry McCann from Southwick, Brian White from Worthing and Ken Towner from Ferring will be among 82 members making the journey to Flanders and the Somme from August 29 to September 2.

The tour will commemorate ex-members of the Boy’s Brigade who served and died during the First World War.

Mr Newman said: “The band is booked to play at The Menin Gate for two nights and will visit several places, such as Authuille, where the 16th Battalion of the Highland Light Infantry fought, to pay its respects. The battalion was formed from members of the Glasgow Battalion of the Boy’s Brigade and they suffered greatly.

“The Lord Mayor of London will be attending the same ceremony, as head of the Livery Company of Historical Researches.”

It is expected the company, made up of 180 people on the day, will join the band for part of the occasion.

The band has members from all over the country, plus one who flies in from Germany, and on the trip, the ages will range from 17 to members well in their 70s.

Adur County Local Committee agreed a donation of £2,500 towards the tour and the band was also given £400 by Brighton and Hove Bus Company, where Mr Newman has worked for the last 25 years.

Mr Newman said: “Since I was six years old, I have been a member of the Boy’s Brigade and for the last five years, I have been a member of the marching band.

“We have played twice in The Lord Mayor’s Show in London, we have played in England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

“We are all volunteers, we do not get paid for playing, and we have to pay for all our own travelling expenses, this is why I applied for the grant.”

The group was at RAF Halton last weekend for one of the final practice sessions.

On November 8, the band will be playing live on BBC1 for the third time, in The Lord Mayor’s Show.

Mr Newman said the 16th Battalion of the Highland Infantry, which was formed from members of the Glasgow Battalion of the Boy’s Brigade, suffered greatly.

In addition, many former members of the Boy’s Brigade in Glasgow joined the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles).

The regiment had a direct connection with Sir William Smith (the founder of the Boy’s Brigade), who had been an officer in the Lanark Rifle Volunteers, which by 1914 had become a part of the regiment.

Mr Newman said: “Up and down the country, many former and current members joined local ‘pals’ regiments. In London, for example, over 160 Old Boys of the London Battalion joined the 13th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade, which suffered heavy casualties on the Somme.

“It is not known what the number was from the West Midlands area but similar numbers may well have involved.

“It is estimated, overall, that in excess of 100,000 members and former members joined the armed forces during the first year of the war. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to former members of the Boys Brigade in the First World War.”

 

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