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The Scots Guards

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named Scots Guards


The Band of The Scots Guards

The Royal Warrant of 1685 authorizing the maintenance of hautbois in the Foot Guards in London did not apply to the Scots Regiment of Guards, which was at the time on the Scottish Establishment. Soon after, however, the Scots Guards moved to London, becoming part of the Household troops in 1707, and by 1716 they too had six hautbois together with three drummers. These drummers were employed as musicians, as distinct from the regimental drummers who had a military role, and were sometimes referred to as drum-majors.

The uniform of the hautbois and drums on State occasions comprised elaborate gold braided coats with plush caps, similar to those used by the drum-majors of the Foot Guards and the Household Cavalry today. The records from 1716 give the cost of these uniforms for drummers and hautbois as 54 and 30 respectively, with the cost being borne by the King's Wardrobe.

About this period the 'Musik' of the 3rd Foot Guards consisted of two hautbois, two horns/trumpets and two bassoons. Later two clarinets were added.

How effective this band was is not known, but soon after the Grenadiers replaced their band with German musicians, the Morning Advertiser of 29 March 1749, reported that The Scots Guards too had changed their Band.

Following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, the three foot guards bands travelled to Paris. Just prior to their departure, the key bugle, known as the 'Kent Bugle', was introduced into the Scots Band. It proved to be a sensation in Paris and inspired Halany, the French instrument maker, to bring out a whole family of keyed bugles: the claritube (key bugle), the quintitube (alto ophicleide) and the ophicleide.

On their return to London from Paris, the hired professional musicians then serving were dismissed and replaced by enlisted men. The new band consisted of 22 performers, and like the hautbois of old, they continued to wear the State uniform on special occasions, though this custom was discontinued in 1832 for all save for the drum-major. The cost of the uniforms for the Band in 1815 was 1170.

The first two bandmasters of the Regiment were clarinettists, playing - as was the fashion prior to the Crimean War - along with the band and signifying changes in tempo by gesturing with the instrument. Their successor, William Hardy, was a virtuoso on the cornopean and similarly when on parade he marched on the flank of the front rank. Hardy had the reputation of being an outstanding arranger, but little was published and less has survived, save his 'Spanish Chant' (1891), which probably does not reflect his true ability. Indeed, the title itself is unrepresentative since the tune is actually 'Old Hundredth'!

The next bandmaster, Carl Boosé, was one of the most influential military musicians of the century. Born in Hesse-Darmstadt, he had enlisted in a German band in 1830 and later found his way to Britain, where he established a reputation as a fine clarinettist. He moved from the 9th (East Norfolk) Regiment in 1842, and in 1845 that he made his greatest contribution, with the founding of Boosé's Military Band Journal. The arrangements he published in this periodical achieved such wide circulation that they helped standardize the instrumentation of military bands in Britain. He was decorated with the Order of Merit by the Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt.

On Boosé's departure in 1859, a competition was held to chose the new bandmaster; the winner was Charles Godfrey junior. Though only 20 years old, he was already an accomplished musician, having received tuition from his father, from Henry Lazarus on the clarinet and from Sir George MacFarren. He had also played at various London theatres and in Louis Jullien's orchestra. After ten years with the Regiment, he transferred to the Royal Horse Guards where he remained for almost 34 years. He was the founder and editor of the Orpheus Military Band Journal, published by Lafleur, and later of the Army Band Journal.

His successor, J C van Maanen, was born in Nijmegen, Holland and received his musical training at the Royal Conservatory of Music at The Hague. He came to London in 1843 to join the orchestra of Her Majesty's Theatre conducted by (Sir) Max Costa. On Costa's recommendation, he was appointed bandmaster of the 52nd (Oxfordshire Light Infantry) Regiment in 1845 and, after various moves, became bandmaster of the Scots Guards in 1868. In 1875 he exchanged appointments with John Power Clarke as bandmaster of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

Clarke had served with the 61st (South Gloucestershire) Regiment and the 7th Hussars as a bandsman but purchased his discharge in order to obtain a more thorough training. Between 1844 and 1875, when he became bandmaster of the Scots, he had served with seven regiments in addition to the Constabulary.

The first Kneller Hall trained bandmaster was Edward Holland whose father had been bandmaster of the 24th (2nd Warwickshire) Regiment. Subsequent bandmasters were Henry Dunkerton and Frederick Wood. Under the latter the Band, by now 40 strong, visited Canada in 1912 to perform at the Toronto Exhibition and in adjoining towns.

During the Great War it performed its tour of duty with the Brigade of Guards in France and Belgium - at Ypres and the Somme in 1916, at Ypres again in 1917 and at Cologne in 1918 - returning to London with the Brigade in 1919. In 1916 it was the only British band at the review of the Allied International Troops held in Paris on 14 July, playing with the Regiment's pipers. It formed part of the massed bands of the Brigade of Guards who played in Paris in 1917, and the following year the string band was chosen to play at the reception given by King George V at the British Embassy in Paris. In 1918 too it went to Italy with the massed bands, playing in Rome and Milan.

Bandmaster Wood was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1919 and appointed senior director of music, the Brigade of Guards in 1921. The following year the Band visited Canada, playing in most of the principal towns of the Dominion, from Quebec to Victoria. In all, 56 concerts were given in 28 towns.

In 1927 Lt Wood was promoted to Captain and was decorated by King George V with the Royal Victorian Order the following year. He retired in 1929.

Horace Dowell served as director of music until 1938 when he retired in the rank of Captain. He later formed a voluntary band for the Royal Army Pay Corps during the war.

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Scots Guards bandsmen
Scots Guards bandsmen wearing pre- and post-World War II uniforms

He was followed by Sam Rhodes, one of the finest musicians produced by the army. As senior director of music, the Brigade of Guards from 1949 to 1959, he was promoted Lieutenant-Colonel in 1955 and awarded the MVO and the MBE. He is remembered mainly for the slow march 'Golden Spurs'.

Perhaps the most moving and symbolic performance of the period came at Rotenburg Airfield in Germany on 9 June 1945 for the final parade of the Guards Armoured Division, the Division that had played such a central part in the Allied war effort. When Field-Marshal Montgomery had inspected and taken the salute of the armoured battalions for the last time, the tanks were driven off the parade ground and over the hills behind to the sounds of the Scots and Welsh Guards Bands playing 'Auld Lang Syne'. After a few moments, the men came back over the hill, footguards once more, as the Bands struck up the regimental marches.

The next Director of Music was James Howe, who had served in the Royal Scots under Lt-Col Rhodes when the latter had been the bandmaster.

In January 1964 the Band together with the pipes and drums, preceded on a three month tour of New Zealand and Australia, spending three days in Hong Kong en route. The Bands arrived back in London on 19 April having travelled nearly 40,000 miles and given 147 concerts.

A trip to Paris at the end of 1970 was made to receive an award for the best recorded disc during the year, and several concerts were given there. This was followed by a visit to the Persian Gulf to play to the troops.

Major Howe was appointed senior director of music, the Household Division in 1970 and awarded the MBE in 1971. In December 1971 he represented the British Army at the 10th Military Music Festival in Belgrade along with Directors of Music from around the world.

In 1972 the Band made an extremely successful tour of America and Canada lasting three months. Whilst there it took part in the Canadian National Exhibition.

Major Howe retired on 11 November 1974. The day before, the Band had broadcast on the Radio 3 Bandstand programme, though his last major appearance had been at the Edinburgh Tattoo earlier that year.

He was followed by Captain Duncan Beat, an ideal choice for the Scots Guards, his father having been bandmaster of The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, while he himself had previously been bandmaster to The Black Watch.

The Band visited America as part of what was effectively a touring version of the Edinburgh Tattoo, playing at the Wolf Trap in New York State to capacity audiences for fifteen days. The director of music for the Tattoo was Lieutenant-Colonel Sharpe.

Further overseas trips were undertaken in 1979, to Western Australia and to Canada for the National Exhibition in Toronto.

In 1980 Major Beat was responsible for the music at the ceremonies in Scotland to mark the 80th Birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. As a result he was appointed a Member (4th Class) of the Royal Victorian Order; this was later re-designated Lieutenant (LVO). At the end of 1982 he was appointed Chief Instructor, Kneller Hall and was replaced by Major Brian Hicks.

The Band, accompanied by the pipes and drums of The Black Watch, made a very successful three-month tour of North America in 1983. Soon after the return to England, however, Major Hicks was forced to retire due to ill-health.

Major Don Carson assumed command and in 1984 was musical director of the Edinburgh Tattoo. In 1986 he took the Band to Australia playing at Tattoos in Adelaide and Sydney. The same year he directed the massed bands of all three services at the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh. He retired prematurely in 1988 to become head of woodwind and brass at Dulwich College in London.

Captain David Price moved to the Scots in December 1987 and the following April was promoted to Major.

In 1990 a section of the band flew out to Trieste to play for P&O and later the complete band flew to New York for the same sponsors. It was on the return flight that they heard that they were to go to the Gulf as medical orderlies. On 3 November 1990, Major Price and the Band arrived in the Gulf to fulfil their secondary role. This was the first time that a Guards Band had been so deployed in war conditions.

In October 1991 they played alongside the Welsh Guards Band in Paris for the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe. More recently they went to Monte Carlo to support Manchester's ill-fated bid for the Olympic Games.

In March 1993 Major Price became Senior Director of Music, the Household Division and shortly afterwards was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.

Scots Guards drummer, piper
bugler and bandsman, c.1891

adapted from
The History of British Military Bands,
Volume Two: Guards & Infantry

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