RAF Music Services News

A Day to be Remembered

Royal Air Force Music perform for the Festival of Remembrance.

On the 9th November, the Central Band of the Royal Air Force, supported by the Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment, travelled to the Royal Albert Hall to provide musical support for Festival of Remembrance.

Musicians from the RAF, Army and Marines stand side by side.
Cornet players from the tri-service opening band.

Band members started the ceremony by forming a tri-service band and performing The Impossible Dream whilst accompanying Louise Dearman.

For their main performance Central Band formed up in the centre of the Albert Hall in front of the stage band which consisted of the Bands of the Household Division, the Countess of Wessex String Orchestra, the Royal Air Force Salon Orchestra and string players from the Royal Marines Band Service.

Their display formed the shapes of both an Avro Lincoln and a parachute, assisted by projections from the audio-visual team.  These were chosen to commemorate the efforts of allied forces during the Berlin Airlift in 1948.

Musicians on parade form the shape of an Avro Lincoln aircraft.
The Central Band of the Royal Air Force forming the Avro Lincoln used during the Berlin Airlift.

What made this particularly special was that the band performed this display in front of a veteran United States Air Force Pilot who had served during the Berlin Airlift.  At their peak, they were running supply drops every two minutes.

A musician bows their head in front of a drum altar.
Corporal Dave Coyle placing the drum to form the battlefield altar.

In-between performance slots, there was just enough time to get a photo opportunity with the various celebrities there.  Several of the band members were thrilled to meet Leona Lewis, Jeff Goldblum and Huw Edwards, who were more than happy to have a selfie with the musicians.

The show was very moving and several tears were shed by people who lost loved ones not only during the World Wars, but also in more recent conflicts.  The festival provides an ideal occasion for everyone to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Performing for the Festival of Remembrance was an incredible experience.  Everyone in the band was grateful for the opportunity to perform, with the engagement setting the scene well for the Cenotaph ceremony the following day.

The National Service of Remembrance

The weekend continued with its understandably sombre tone and Sunday 10th November saw the Central Band of the RAF and Band of the RAF Regiment lead the RAF contingent in the National Service of Remembrance at the Cenotaph on Whitehall, London.

Following tradition, at 1100 a single shell was fired by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery followed by 11 solitary chimes of Big Ben.  Two minutes silence was then observed, ending with a second shell and the Last Post sounded by the Buglers of the Royal Marines Band Service.

Buglers sound the last post.

A first wreath was then laid by the Prince of Wales on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, followed by another wreath on behalf of His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, who no longer undertakes public engagements.  The Prince of Wales then laid his own wreath, followed by the Dukes of Cambridge, Sussex and York.

As the service came to an end, a team of 10 trumpeters from Royal Air Force Music Service, led by Warrant Officer Steve McGuinness, sounded the Rouse.

RAF Trumpeters stood on the steps outside Wellington Barracks

The Central Band of the Royal Air Force, along with their colleagues from the Massed Bands of the Guards Division and the Royal Marines Band Service then provided musical support as thousands of the veterans marched past the Cenotaph.    

This year saw the RAFMS Association taking part in the march past of veterans for the very first time.  As the Association prepared for this historic moment, two former RAFMS musicians, Paul Sergeant and Frank Fiddler, were interviewed by Sophie Raworth on BBC1.  They highlighted the tragic events of 11th February 1985 which saw the death of 19 personnel from the Band of the Royal Air Force Germany, a RAF Policemen and their coach driver, a fitting tribute to those men ahead of the 35th Anniversary next year.

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