The past week had been wet, wrung out through the mangle and wet all over again, or as it’s known locally, summer! But on this morning, Saturday the 24th of August, the sun was bright and bonny in the sky over Glasgow. Even the weather was impressed! Because a City Branch member of the R.M.A., former marine Ian Hopkins (He goes by the moniker “salesman” online, I don’t know what he sells but I assure you there can’t be very much of it left.) had secured the appearance of The Band of The Royal Marines (Scotland) at a small church parade to remember and commemorate the Victory in Japan (VJ) at the end of the Second World War. This is one of two events organised by the local Parachute Regimental Association (PRA), the other being V.E. Day. Both events are now a regular fixture on the calendar of Ex-service personnel in the West of Scotland area. These events and others take place at a local Service Veterans Memorial. (See attached link). The service was originally scheduled for the previous Saturday, the 17th. But like that great star we call the sun the minister too was impressed, and at the prospect of having Thirty Five members of Her Majesty’s finest in attendance, he did not flinch nor falter, he simply moved the parade on a week. Now most folk might not immediately recall that the official commemorative date for VJ Day is the 15th of August but they were never going to forget the day they saw a Royal Marine Band in Knightswood and once they heard them play they would recognise why the Corp of Marines are demonstrably proud of their musical wing. There are one or two things I could mention that demand the attention more of serving and former serving Royal Marines, however everything has it’s time and place, so on parade the Band Service wins it hands down. The only thing better than hearing a Royal Marine Bugler playing The Last Post is the realisation that you are still alive to hear it.
So here we were at Knightswood Cross on a singularly, sunny Saturday, white pith helmets brilliant in the bright mornings light while buttons and buckles dazzled. The smartness of The Band could only be outdone by their music. They formed up in a semi circle on the grass at the back of the monument, a large granite celtic cross that bears the emblems of all three services. On a quiet word of command they began to play. The chattering and small talk stopped and all eyes fell upon the boys and girls in Blues. Both of those with the thick red trouser stripe that denotes the Band and the thin red strip of the Buglers Branch. Ian was asked at one point if he required a bugler, “Did he need one?” “No thanks”, was the confidant reply “We have five!”
Locals were enthralled to come upon this unexpected extravaganza as they walked the dog or simply left their nearby homes to see what all the fuss was about. What was going on at their memorial? Other regimental veterans looked, listened and learned with envy what every bootneck there and elsewhere already knew, they were listening to the best. Former marines from all era’s, units and branches were whisked away, each to his own memories from the past. Some were back among the ghosts in the Royal Marine Depot at Deal others to the parade ground at CTCRM Lympstone, the click clacking of the Adjutant’s horse as it relieved itself on the well trod tarmac, a drill class of recruits wondering how they could possibly keep away from it’s droppings and a Drill Instructor working out just how he would get them to march across the very top of them to relieve his boredom. Some would remember some poop deck (It’s a coincidence) on a Royal Navy ship of the line, in some harbour, somewhere or other on the great globe itself as a bugler signalled the going down of the sun, Sunset.
A short service of remembrance followed and the minister duly acknowledged the sacrifice of some and the commitment of all, each in the service of Her Majesty’s Forces. The veterans present then fell in, each within the ranks of his, or her, own association or grouping. Just at that the police arrived, our escort. Their top man spoke with the bands top man, agreement was met and probably a few requests jotted down. The band struck up again and off they went, the RMA close behind the band as they marched over and onto the A82. It is indeed an amazing sight to see, the purposefulness and fortitude displayed by a body of men as they march downhill towards a pub. Outstretched arms swinging to the rhythm of the band and a few well hummed tunes. They stopped at the Lincoln Public House, broke off and headed for the bar. The success of the mornings events were not lost on those present as the conversations went back over the thoughts and recollections of those who took part. Memories were remembered and made, confirmed, acknowledged and altered as the lager hit it’s mark. Cloakroom tickets were bought by men with no coats and people fortified themselves for the threatened buffet, cholesterol counts were cancelled. It was a fitting end to what had been an assured success due to the effort, planning and attendance of all who took part and in particular to big Terry McCourt, Ex 2 Parachute Regiment and big Ian Hopkins, Ex 45 Commando Royal Marines. This small church parade is now up there with The Royal Tournament and The Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We can all look forward as to how big Terry is going to top this year’s event in time for next year’s V.E. Day, maybe he can talk big Ian into arranging for two bands of The Royal Marines, maybe even the Queen herself may see fit to place a wreath. Whatever it is, this will take some beating. We’ll leave it with you Terry!