Lance Corporal Damian Dunphy is a trombonist with the Heavy Cavalry and Cambrai Band (HC&C Band) based in Catterick, North Yorkshire. Prior to joining the HC&C Band on its formation in 2006 he was a member of the King’s Division Waterloo Band, and prior to that the Regimental Band of the Green Howards.
Having served such a length of time in Yorkshire Damian’s roots are well and truly established. He plays for a number of orchestras in the North East in addition to a number of brass bands, he is also the Musical Director of a local brass band and has conducted a number of other bands in the area.
On Saturday 19 November the Band boarded the bus, London-bound, for Sunday’s Act of Remembrance and subsequent Service of Remembrance with one of our affiliated units, The Royal Tank Regiment.
This has been an annual fixture in the Band’s diary since its formation in June 2006. The Band frequently performs in London and until recently has always stopped at the London Transit Centre at Royal Air Force Uxbridge. It is a place the Band is very familiar with and an overnight stop there is something akin to donning a comfortable pair of old slippers. The accommodation was somewhat dated but you knew where everything was, where the best Indian restaurant was, the cinema and the local running routes.
RAF Uxbridge has recently closed so the Band on this occasion stopped at the Royal Artillery Barracks, in Woolwich, South London. Any casual observer might note that Yorkshire folk don’t particularly like change, and this sudden breach of transit protocol represented something of a cultural shock to us northerners, no doubt within five years we will have accepted the change although you will still hear the odd grumble about it ‘not being like it used to be’!
Early the following morning the Band made their way across London to set up equipment for the forthcoming Service of Remembrance at St Mary Aldermary, the church is a hidden gem, with hidden being the operative word. Each year the challenge of finding the venue is augmented by the continual upheaval of additional road works and new one-way systems. Thankfully this had been catered for within our timetable and the Band arrived back at Wellington Barracks in sufficient time to lead the Royal Tank Regiment up to Horseguards and then on to the Cenotaph at Whitehall. We were assisted in this task by the Pipes and Drums of the Royal Tank Regiment, who also provided a piper to perform the lament. The parade was followed by the Service of Remembrance in the beautiful and historic St Mary Aldermary Church, which in addition to its association with RTR is also linked with HMS Illustrious.
November saw our Drum Major, Alistair Smith, return to the Band having spent six months in Afghanistan on Op Herrick 14. Drum Major Smith was much commended on the sterling service he provided as a vehicle patrol commander for the UK Infantry Battle School in Kabul. He was awarded a medal for his service at a recent concert at Durham Cathedral with his family in attendance. We would also like to congratulate Drum Major Smith on his recent promotion to Sergeant.
On Wednesday 30 November the Band departed for Edinburgh where we had been task to participate in a homecoming parade on behalf of one of our affiliated units, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (RSDG), who have recently completed a six-month tour of Afghanistan on Op Herrick 14.
On this occasion the Band were accommodated in Edinburgh Castle. Even those with very limited UK geographical knowledge will be aware that the castle is on a hill, directions to our accommodation were as follows; “Go to the top of the esplanade, go up the hill, do not stop until you get to the top of the hill. When you get to the top of the hill go through the doors in front of you and up the stairs, you are on the fourth floor”, needless to say Wednesday’s trip to the gym ended up being postponed!
Thursday morning was a crisp, sunny and cold day, perfect weather for a parade. The Band, this time joined by the Pipes and Drums from the RSDG, led the Regiment from the castle esplanade down the Royal Mile to Cannongate Kirk in front of a large and appreciative crowd. The day culminated in a reflective service in Cannongate Kirk, at which Craftsman Andrew Found, who was killed in an explosion in June, was remembered. The Regiment has now returned to Germany where they are based as part of 7th Armoured Brigade – The Desert Rats.
As I write the Band are preparing for a hectic period in the run up to Christmas leave. It is thought that some of Santa’s Elves are known to be working in the Band’s music library preparing our festive programmes.