Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Drum Roll Please

Sepia Saturday has a musical theme this week and it gives me the opportunity to show these pictures of my grandfather Syd and his brother Albert. This picture was taken c1910 when Syd was about twelve and Albert fourteen years old. I don’t know who took the picture, but it could have been the boys’ older sister Maud, who would have been about seventeen at this time. She was a keen amateur photographer all her life and even developed and hand-coloured her own prints. Perhaps it was the brothers’ father, my great-grandfather William. He would have been very proud of his two sons, who distinguished themselves as members of the Boys Brigade, with attendance and good behaviour. They had lost their mother some years earlier when the children were very small; what a pity she didn’t live to see them grow into such fine young men.

In this picture, it is Albert who was the drummer but I have a memory of my grandfather telling me he played the cornet himself. Both boys ‘rose through the ranks’ as can be seen in the next two photographs. My grandfather is on the back row, second left and Albert is standing next to him on his left. There is no date on this group photograph, but the siblings no longer look like schoolboys and would of course already have been at work; Albert as an apprentice joiner, and Syd upon leaving school at fourteen, as an apprentice engineer.




From here it would have been but a short step into the uniforms of the First World War a year or so later. Albert joined the South Notts Hussars and transferred to the Royal Flying Corps where he graduated to Rear Gunner. Syd, like so many, stretched the truth somewhat in order to join The Sherwood Foresters at just sixteen years of age. In 1915 whilst training in Bedfordshire, Syd’s battalion, The Robin Hoods (2/7th Shewood Foresters), were presented with a set of instruments,and it was Syd’s turn to become the drummer. Here he is with fellow band members, standing far right.


”During June 1915 whilst based in Dunstable and quartered in a canvas camp, the battalion had the good fortune to be presented with a set of band instruments by J D Player, Esq., JP, a most welcome addition to the equipment of the battalion, and under bandmaster Smedley a first rate band was soon trained, and it served on many a weary march to cheer the men up and help them in a way that only those who have been on long marches in ‘full marching order’, with and without a band, can appreciate. The cheers which followed the announcement of the gift were sufficient evidence of appreciation.”  (From “The Robin Hoods” 1/7th, 2/7th, & 3/7th Battns, Sherwood  Foresters 1914-1918. A collective history written by its own officers). 

Both brothers served with distinction throughout the war, after which great uncle Albert emigrated to Australia. I have no idea about his further musical abilities, but I do know that my grandfather, although unable to read music, could play anything on the piano 'by ear'. My mother, his daughter, however, was encouraged to learn, and her story is told in an earlier post of mine The Girl With the Pearl Accordion. I have just been given a previously unseen picture of her with her instrument and I have added it to that post and updated it.

Whilst talking about this post with my parents, my father reminded me that in WW2 he too played a drum. He had a some ability as, prior to enlisting in the RAF, he had sold his bicycle to buy a drum kit. Whilst at basic training in Weston-super-Mare he joined the training band and helped to keep the marching beat. The need for a bicycle at this time was greater than for a drumkit and it was sold. Sadly the bicycle was stolen and Dad was back to square one. He hasn’t lost his touch though, and here he is demonstrating on his great-grandson’s drumkit, that he’s still got rhythm. This was on the occasion of his 90th birthday in July.


I have always owned a tiny drum charm in my jewellery box and I recently showed to it the family, including my mother, to see if anyone could come up with its provenance. No-one had any idea, but I am pretty sure it was given to me as a child by my grandparents. I’d love to think it had some connection to my grandfather but I’m probably completely wrong. If anyone has a theory I’d love to hear it. Clicking on any picture will give you the Lightbox slideshow view. Meanwhile follow the marching band to Sepia Saturday and see what musical delights participants have come up with.


I am indebted to my brother for the details in this post, taken from his family history research.

25 comments:

  1. I like the idea that the charm came from your grandpa. keep believing it is so.

    I looked again at the other post, which I remembered, and looking back at the comments, one question I must ask:
    did your parents get that iPad2???
    :)~
    HUGZ

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  2. Absolutely love this post. Both my sons were Queens's men - got their BB Queen's badge. Younger son is an officer now and I used to be an Anchor Boys leader. Great organisation for boys - then and now.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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  3. I am very unmusical, but I have good rhythm and played the drum in the school band when I was young.

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  4. You should consider having your blog printed out in order to hand to you grandchildren. I know it will always be available for them to browse via the web, but there's something special about 'holding' the memories.
    Are your grandchildren showing any early signs of musical talent?
    That drum charm is exquisite.

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  5. It's great that you have such a fund of knowledge about your grandparents' generation. I never knew mine to talk to, and my parents died many years ago before I thought to ask them.

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  6. I also believe the charm came from your grandfather. It makes sense since he was so into drumming. Great photos of him, his brother and the rest of the robin hoods.
    Nancy Javier
    Ladies of the grove

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  7. Its really important to know about our generation,because without roots tree cannot stand.

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  8. A family story where it must be a joy to have the information and the photographs.

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  9. Its so great to know the family history and I agree with Lucy in printing your blog for grandchildren. :o) Scarlett x

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  10. Nell,

    What a well done and professional article you have given us this week! The pictures, details and facts are fascinating, and I enjoyed learning about your family. It is sad that their mom died young, she missed so much.

    Thank you so much for stopping by, and I hope that your SS is great.

    Kathy M.

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  11. That mini drum is adorable - hope you can find out more about it...

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  12. Such brave boys - hope someone comes up with some ideas on the drum charm :-) Jo

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  13. I'd love to know more about my own family history - you've inspired me to do a little more digging. The charm is beautiful!

    Jem xXx

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  14. You have such a marvelous set of photos of your relatives and their story as well. So fortunate. I, too, adore your little drum!

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  15. You drummed up quite the post here, heh.

    Nice to discover your blog here.. I'll be back..

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  16. I think the drum charm came from your grandparents too. Nice update to the accordion post.

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  17. To think that Syd and Albert made it through the war and out the other side. What a wonderful story, and such telling photographs.

    That your dad is keeping the beat, at 90 years, is truly remarkable.

    I hope you discover that the charm was a gift from your grandparents, too.

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  18. What a great post and I love that little charm...I hope you find its story.

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  19. Your grandfather must have had a very considerable musical ability to be able to pick out a tune by ear. I am sufficiently tone deaf not to be able to recognise tunes at all unless very familiar.

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  20. I love a drum and it was great to see your dad keeping the beat. This was a great post. I too believe your charm was from your gps.
    QMM

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  21. You deserve an extra drum roll for that Nell - it is the kind fascinating tour de force we have all become used to from you on your Sepia Saturday outings. My father was in the Boys Brigade and I have a photograph of him at BB camp very similar to the one you have included in your post.

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  22. A first-rate story from beginning to end! Somewhere I have come across the memoir of a WWI British band musician. I'll try to find it and add it later.

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  23. Lovely post. Just stopping by from Sunday stamps.

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  24. Those photographs are great, particularly the ones of the Robin Hoods, as I'm currently doing some research on the various units that formed the Sherwood Foresters, and the uniforms that they wore. Do you have more information about the dates and locations of those three images? I'd very much like to use them in my study in a future Photo-Sleuth article, please, if you wouldn't mind?

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  25. Adorable photographs of the boys and their drums through many generations! I, too, suspect that the drums were from your Grandfather. Wonderful story-telling taking us through the generations of drums in the family!

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