Emma Peacock plays flute and piccolo in The Band and Bugles of The Rifles, part of the Corps of Army Music. She has been in the band for a year and a half, having completing Phase 1 training at ATR Pirbright and Phase 2 at The Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall.
What a busy time! The Royal Bath and West Show was good fun we were busy with bandstand concerts and a few marching elements including opening and closing the show. A few of us camped over to save travelling each day; this meant many BBQs and a lot of local cider!
The parade in Shrivenham didn’t leave a lot of room for us to march and this meant that on the counter-march I ended up ducking under tubas and sidestepping around the bass drum!!The last engagement we did before travelling to Germany was a ‘Sounding Retreat’ for the Winchester Garrison. It was a horribly wet day and we had to have a wet weather plan, but luckily the rain held off and we went out and performed to the garrison, family and guests. One of the guests was the Principle Director of Music, Army, PDOM(A) who joined us afterwards to chat with the band.
It took a while but we eventually reached base.
The Germany trip started with an 8 ½ hour coach journey and then we took over the accommodation at Joint Head Quarters, (JHQ). This was to be our base for three weeks. The next day we travelled to Herford for a woodwind quintet job and a Sounding Retreat on a really big square. The general public there seemed to enjoy the parade as much as the invited guests.
Through trees and foliage, the band played on.
We’ve just come back from a 3 week tour in Germany; we travelled to Hohne, then Kiel to ‘Sound-the- Retreats’. After an overnight journey we arrived back at JHQ with just enough time to get some washing done, do some fitness and jump on another coach to Brussels, where we had a Sounding Retreat in a tiny garden, at one point the Buglers were doubling through trees and foliage. We did have one day off during our time in Germany and this day was spent looking around Brussels, a lovely city where we all indulged in a lot of chocolate, waffles and beer!
After our day off we performed at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), British Summer Fete where there were horse rides, games, stalls and cakes. We played a little music to open the fete then the woodwind quintet went on followed by the saxophone quartet. The afternoon finished with a small marching band display and then another coach journey for us back to JHQ.
The following day was just a travel day, which was lucky as the coach arrived over 5 hours late! The paperwork for our bus went missing so we ended with an alternative bus similar to one you would normally pop to town in for a 7 ½ hour journey. We had this bus for the next few days and it proved a little challenging at times. We again travelled to Kiel and the next day we did a small remembrance service in the town.
Following this the woodwind quintet climbed aboard HMS St Albans as we were playing for a reception party. We were very lucky and got a tour around the ship, which involved lots of small spaces and steep steps/ladders. The quintet played very well, however we were out on deck and it was very windy. At one point my music folder was whipped off the stand and was almost lost at sea!
Back on dry land
The next day we travelled to Hannover to play at a big city event outside the city hall. We played alongside 5 Rifles Bugle Platoon and The Royal Regiment of Scotland Pipes and Drums. The following day was a nice change as it was a Sounding Retreat on JHQ camp, so we got a lie in and didn’t have to travel anywhere. But this was short lived as the day after we were back on a coach to Hameln for a Sounding Retreat and then Munster for The Prince of Wales’s Own Yorkshire Regiment and The Royal Ghurkha Rifles medals parade.
When we got back to JHQ there was a big families day event in the Garrison. The band did a ‘retreat’ with some added static music to entertain the crowds. That evening there was a big stage with various acts on so we stuck around and joined in with the party atmosphere. We then spent a day travelling to Berlin to play in a tiny back garden. It was the smallest venue I’ve ever done a retreat in, with so many counter marches and little steps that it felt like we were hardly moving.
Once back at JHQ we did a parade for 1 Military Intelligence Battalion as they are going to be moving to another camp in Germany. They had events going on all day so we also had a few small groups playing for them as well as a ‘Sounding Retreat ‘in the evening.
The ‘Double Past’
Our last job was a medals parade for 5 Rifles. It was a very good parade, with the best double past I’ve ever seen! The Double Past involves the troops marching at 140 beats per minute. The inspecting officer was the HRH The Countess of Wessex, the Colonel in Chief of 5 Rifles. She is also the Colonel in Chief of the Corps of Army Music. A few of us got picked to meet her after the job, and although she was very busy she tried to talk to everyone.
This was the end of our Germany tour; however we still had the issue of getting home. This wasn’t as easy as expected, first the coach wouldn’t start as the battery was flat and then we missed the Eurostar with the next train 4 hours later. We eventually got home the next morning, tired and ready for some sleep, but it was an enjoyable trip.