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The Arborfield Bands.



Military Band & Corps of Drums.


Military Music

Whilst browsing through the photos of the Military Band section, why not listen to some of the music we marched to on the various parades at Arborfield. The music clips are in m3u format.  Access is through clicking on the track numbers below. Minimise your Media Player to continue viewing the photos.


Track 01

Duke Of York played by the Band of the Grenadiers.

Track 02

Scipio played by the band of the Royal Gloucester, Berkshire & Wiltshire Regiment

Track 03

The Great Little Army.

Track 04

Standard Of St. George.

Track 05

Old Comrades.

Track 06

British Grenadiers played by the Band of the Grenadiers.

Track 07

British Grenadiers Slow March played by the Band of the Grenadiers.

Track 08

Reveille played by the Band of the Royal Marines.

Track 09

Last Post played by the Band of the Royal Marines.

Track 10

Sunset played by the Band of the Royal Marines.

Track 11

Boys Of The Old Brigade especially for the ‘Chelsea Branch’ of the AOBA.

Played by the band of the Coldstream Guards.




Arborfield ATS Drum and Fife Band.

The photo below shows A/DM Brian Conway 42A leading the Arborfield ATS Drum and Fife band.  Originally tagged as Wokingham but now thought more likely to be Reading.  It’s possible to search Reading Borough photos from  The time would be 1942/44.  Brian was the first Apprentice Drum Major to be appointed at the school.

The photo is actually a microcosm of Arborfield school history, taken at a time when great changes took place.  Normally a three year apprenticeship, in Brian’s case he only spent two years at Arborfield as in 1944 the boys were dispersed to various locations whilst the camp was taken over to provide accommodation for the troops preparing for the Normandy invasion.  He completed his training at Aldershot. 

Previously music for parades had been supplied by the band of the 4/7th Royal Dragoons who were based at Arborfield.  The Drum and Fife band was formed in 1941 with boys from various military schools who had musical experience.  Brian was a ‘Dukie’.  Looking at the photo, the drummer on the left has a cap badge plus collar dogs, which could indicate he was a RAOC boy, which was the original cap badge of the boys transferred to Arborfield when it opened in 1939.  On the right the drummers have no collar dogs and the possibility is that they were members of the General Service Corps into which new boys were mustered.

In early 1942 a Corps of Drums was formed and looking behind the Fifers there are several drummers who are wearing either the Glengarry or side hats, rather than the SD cap.  The probability is that they were boys from Queen Victoria’s School, Dunblane, who had joined Arborfield as apprentices.  But why are they still dressed in the uniforms of Dunblane?  At the same time as badges of the RAOC and GSC were worn there would also be boys wearing the badge of the newly formed REME.  I also believe that the Royal Signals badge would be seen but my investigation to prove that has hit the buffers for a while.  It forms part of another section on the web site. 

Following the Arborfield boys the parade includes regular troops.  At the time there were parades through towns to promote War Loans and National Savings schemes.  On the other hand it might be a welcome home or farewell parade for the troops.

Much of the above is, of course, speculation but if you can add any more thoughts, please contact


The Editor


Information Updated 1st March 2012.

I made the photo available on the ‘Reading Forum’ to take advantage of the knowledge about Old Reading which the contributors have.  The first objective was to confirm a location and ‘buseng’ came up with the following information……..

‘I think just in from the top left is Merchant's Place, just right from the top centre is the Boars Head, just to the right of that, the white looking building, is the Central Cinema-you can see the white pillars that used to stand by the entrance. The traffic lights, with the then black/white posts is the Station Road/Queen Victoria Street junction (yes there were traffic lights before Page!). In the top right hand corner is the entrance to Harris Arcade (the light coloured rectangle).

Hope this helps’.

‘rolew’ contributed an interesting observation……

‘I don't think the band was turning left (sic) as it looks as if they have come to a halt and the mace bearer would have been holding the mace at arms length pointing to the left (sic. which was later corrected to read Right) if they were turning’.

Looking at the photo again it would indeed appear that the drummers have come to a halt.  However the Drum Major’s left leg is bent as if he is still moving.  Further back the Fifers look as though they are still on the move.  Whist the head of the mace is visible, the staff can’t be seen to give the angle that the mace is being held.  So once again it’s a situation where we find one answer, only to be confronted with more puzzles.

The full discussion is available on the Reading Forum which can be accessed from  HERE.


Photo contributed by: David SCHOFIELD 65A.



Two photographs added 1st February 2014.


The Arborfield Army Apprentices School Drum & Fife Band was formed in 1941.  Disbanded in 1947.


The next two contemporary photographs shown below are thought to be of the band between 1945 and 1948.  They were contributed by Clive Wagstaffe 65C.

Source & Copyright © Flix Photos, London.


Source & Copyright © Sport & General Press Agency Ltd. London.


Photograph by Reader & Ward.                                                                                  Contributed by: Brian CONWAY 42A


Michael Cheeseman 62C is in the Corps Of Drums  photograph above.

Contributed by: Brian CONWAY 42A


Henley Town Hall 1964.


A ‘Welcome Home’ for Olympian Mary Rand who won a Gold Medal for the Long Jump, Silver Medal for the Pentathlon and a Bronze Medal for the 4x100 Women’s Relay in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.

Members of the Corps of Drums are Rear Rank, far left, Michael Cheeseman 62C, 2nd Rank, far right, Brian Conway 42C, but here as the member of the Permanent Staff who reintroduced the band to Arborfield. Next to Mary Rand is Permanent Staff member, Band Sergeant Major Toby Parker B.E.M. of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

Contributed by Michael CHEESEMAN 62C



Military Band circa 1953-54

                                                                 Contributed by: Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A


Military Band thought to be 1955. Several of the musicians dressed in battle dress are from intake 52A which would indicate this being a band photo for the passing out parade in February 1955.



A small 2”x2” photo, believed taken in 1954, of the Military Band.  Two of the Burmese Apprentices are shown, one on drum and one on clarinet.  Names not known if anybody can help please.


Contributed by Trevor STUBBERFIELD 52A


The photos below have been contributed by Derek Breeze 53B


The information accompanying these two photos has provided a puzzle which is in need of some clarification. The band sergeant is Sgt. Backley of the Inniskillings. Standing directly behind him, sticks raised, is A/LCPL. Derek Breeze of 53B who departed from Arborfield in July 1956. The photo is also used in Peter Gripton’s history of Arborfield ‘The Arborfield Apprentice’ (page 196) but is dated as 1957. Tony Church 55A has supplied a matching photo of the pipe band which can be viewed from HERE. Tony also writes that they were taken in October 1957 and were rehearsals prior to both bands appearing on television. Peter’s record shows the television programs taking place on the 23rd and 25th of August 1956. It is known that some of the band left Arborfield in July 1956, the 53B contingent, but returned for the broadcasts, to fill the gaps that they had left. Derek states that he wasn’t one of them and yet he his in this photo, which would indicate that it was taken during a rehearsal prior to the departure of his intake 53B.  Tony also writes that the two bands often rehearsed together to provide a Massed Bands March Off at the end of the Passing Out Parades and a photo of that event is on page 191 of Peter’s book.


1st June 2010

Additional information received from Tony Church goes a long way to answering the puzzle.

Tony writes…

‘I may be able to reduce some of the confusion regarding TV appearances, as there were  at least two others prior to the ones in 1957.

I joined the pipe band in 2 Div, (Sept '55) and played on parade from 3 Div. (Feb '56). We did our first TV appearance at Earls Court that year, with the military band.

We then, shortly afterwards, appeared on an outdoor programme (again with the military band) at The Royal Military Hospital, Chelsea, in a programme featuring Gordon Pirie, Chris Chattaway, Chris Brasher and the Army Gymnastic Team, (CSMI Nick Stuart et al, if memory serves.)

These two occasions would be the ones that Peter has noted in his book, taking place in the summer of '56.

The '57 appearance was for an ITV children’s show which starred Jimmy Hanley, and was the only time that we appeared in a studio. (Very hot and sweaty!)

I can't comment too much on the Military Band apart from what I have already mentioned - although I do know that in the latter half of '57 the leading side drummer's name was Pearce, 55A, because I just beat him in the newly instituted drummers competition ! (I still have the plaque)

This was a competition among the schools drummers for a pair of ebony drumsticks, presented by Major Mick Martin, OC "D" Coy, when he retired.   


Arborfield Army Apprentices College 1973 - 75


The two photos below have been contributed by Terry Reddin 52A

Photo Copyright © Terry REDDIN 52A


Photo Copyright © Terry REDDIN 52A




First Published: 15th May 2007.

Latest Update: 1st February 2014.





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