First & Last, Journal of the Halton 81st Entry

Issue Number 41

Nov 2014

The Journal of the 81st Entry

Edited and uploaded by Brian Spurway

Welcome to the 41st edition of The Journal.

Last Post:

The loss of any member of the 81st Entry diminishes us all.

The 81st Entry extends its sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Derek William 'Doc' Knights (Armourer) who passed away on Sunday 21st of September this year. He will be sadly missed by us all.

A Service to celebrate Doc's life was held at St John's Church, Manthorpe, on Friday 3 October 2014. Our thanks to Phil Jarman and Ed Duke who both attended the Service to pass on their personal respects, and those of the Entry; only Ed was able to meet Doc's family and friends afterwards at a reception and this is the message he sent to me later:

"The crematorium Service, for family only, preceded a church Service to celebrate Doc's life; it consisted of a mixture of prayers, hymns and very moving eulogies read by his children and Air Force comrades. It was a very moving and happy service held in a packed and delightful church on a sunny afternoon; a send-off as close to perfect as one could wish for.

After the service we moved to a nearby public house and a handsome buffet. Here I met Emma and her sister and had a long chat in which I passed your, mine and the 81st Entry's sympathy and condolences. They were very genuine in their real delight that someone had come from a part of his life that always meant so much to him."

On a much lighter note, you will recall that some months ago I mentioned that Ed Wagstaff would be visiting the UK as a drummer with the Vancouver Police Pipe Band, hoping that some of you from the 81st might like to travel up to the 'Smoke' to see him performing. Amongst those who did so were Dave Beston and his wife, and this is what Dave has to tell us about it:

"On the 12th June 2014, my wife and I travelled from West Wales to attend the Beating of the Retreat at Horse Guards' Parade. The reason for the "pilgrimage" was to watch, with great pride and admiration, a member of the 81st Entry, Ed Wagstaff, marching and playing the drums with the Vancouver Police Pipe Band. I can assure all of you that Ed has not forgotten the "square bashing" that was "drilled" into us all for three years. What is so amazing is he still has the bearing of a twenty year old.

The Vancouver Police Pipe Band, celebrating 100 years of service, had been invited to perform the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, the first non-military overseas band invited to do so in the last 350 years.

This was certainly no "jolly" for the band, as it had to play four guard changes at Buckingham Palace, two at Windsor Castle and Beat the Retreat at Horse Guards' Parade twice; it also played at RAF Northolt open day, a Metropolitan Police graduation parade, the Chelsea Pensioners' Home and the bandstand at Windsor Castle. When you consider that the weight of the full Highland dress and Drum is 45 pounds I am not sure that many of us could meet such a demanding schedule.

Following his return to Canada Ed contacted the Guards' Museum to enquire as to whether he was the oldest person ever to perform the Changing of the Guard ceremony. This is the response from the Guards' Museum:"

Dear Mr. Wagstaff,

Thank you for your enquiry to the Guards' Museum.

The best answer we can give to your question is 'probably'. No records are kept of these things but I believe your Pipes and Drums were the first civilians to take part since around 1785 when the musicians in the Foot Guards became attested soldiers rather than hired civilians. Since that time, the upper age would therefore be governed by military regulations which would rarely see anyone serving beyond 60.

The oldest I can think of would have been Mr. Charles Godfrey, who served as bandmaster of the Coldstream Guards until his death in 1863, aged 73. In those days the Guard Changing ceremony in London would have been held at St. James's Palace rather than Buckingham Palace.

The ceremony moved to Buckingham Palace in the early 1900s (but until the early 1960s, only when the King and/or Queen was in residence). As to the oldest man to take part there, we can again probably look to the Coldstream Guards' Band as their Director of Music, Lt Col John Mackenzie Rogan, served until retiring in 1920 at the age of 68.

That is really the best we can do by way of an answer but it certainly looks as though you set a new record. I hope that you enjoyed the experience.

Best Wishes,

Colin Dean

So, it looks as if Ed has set a new record to go down in the annals of 81st history.

Thank you Ed for giving us such a memorable evening. Dave Beston

The response to my suggestion of forwarding a list of email addresses, to those agreeing to have their address on it, has been somewhat disappointing with well less than half of those I emailed reponding with any answer at all - six being negative anyway. Likewise asking about interest in attending a get together at Gaydon sometime in the future - well that elicited the grand total of four! Consequently I've put both suggestions 'on hold' - unless, that is, I get a sudden surge of enthusiasm, and I don't mean from myself as I remain the committed optimist.

As ever, my thanks to those whose articles are listed below; first time for Doug, welcome regulars and a minor theme relating to aerobatic teams. Enjoy your reading.


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