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Ship's Music

Royal Marine, on board and ashore

Catalogue number 54009

Drum and fife band

A drum and fife band leads a company of the Royal Marines Light Infantry, note the officers on horseback....and the dust kicked up!

Recto: “....London Cos"

12.6cm x 7.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108058


Two very smart Royal marine drummers, bass and side drums. A bass drum can weigh between 15 to 19 kg. On the bass drum we can read upside down "Boosey & Co, Maker, 293 Regent St., London". Boosey and Co were band instrument manufacturers and music publishers. Thomas Boosey opened a bookshop in London in 1792 before his son moved into music publishing in 1816 then to eventually produce flutes and instrument sales. They moved to the Regent Street address in 1874 and became Boosey and Hawkes in 1930 so we can deduce that this bass drum was made between these two dates. In large warships, there was a special instrument store next to the Royal Marines mess.

9cm x 13cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 111060

Royal Marine bugler boys

In this large group of Royal Marine, there are over 22 bugler boys. In the Royal Navy, bugles were used to pass orders for the daily routine of running the ship and in war, to transmit vital orders and to alert the crew to dangers.

Verso: text in pencil from a Royal Marine brother to his sister Em , the photograph was taken “at camp on the Sunday” and “I am in the pink as I hope you are” ending with “it is nearly time to pipe down for the night” and “I remain your loving brother”, franked in Portsmouth 1913.

13.9cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 121097

Playing selections, Sunday rest, 1921

This photograph was taken on board H.M.S. Renown during the Prince of Wales cruise of the early 1920s. At the time, the Prince had gone ashore.

Verso: “Renowns Band Playing selections Sunday 13th-11-21 x Thats I.” in strong black ink

13.4cm x 8.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108052

H.M.S. Nelson

In this photograph of the band on H.M.S. Nelson we can count at least 14 Royal Marine musicians. In wartime, they would take on other functions,the 17 musicians of the band on H.M.S. Hood manned the transmission station, for example. A fleet flagship had 24 bandsmen, a squadron flagship 17 and other capital ships, aircraft carriers and heavy cruisers 15, light cruisers had 12 bandsmen.

Verso: “Nelson” in pencil

12.9cm x 7.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 36109

Dinner hour concert

There are 24 musicians and a bandmaster on this Royal Navy battleship. Note glass plate camera on tripod in the background right

Verso: “Band playing during dinner hour” in light pencil

12.7cm x 7.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108057

Music, good for moral

The fleet is at anchor, maybe at Scapa Flow, and the Royal Marine band of H.M.S. Valiant is giving a concert. There was not a lot to do at Scapa Flow so a concert would be a welcome break to the daily routine.

13.5cm x 7.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 99018

Music ashore

The Royal Marine band is marching along the dockside in Alger whilst the public look on.

Verso: “HMS Jamaica Alger” in pencil

14.3cm x 9.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108053

The visitors give a concert

Here a Royal Navy battleship has on board part of the Suffolk regiment in transit and their band is treating the sailors to a concert.

13.3cm x 8.5cm Matt gelatin silver print


On board ship

Catalogue number 121010

Ship's Music on a French flagship

Brennus was flagship to Vice-Admiral Ernest François Fournier during manoeuvres in the Mediterranean Sea at the time this photograph was taken. The manoeuvres ended with a naval review off Cherbourg in the presence of the President Emile Loubet, 19th July, 1900.This may explain why there is such a large band on board, at least 32 musicians. Note cuff lace on seamens' sleeves, the old type of bassoon and the Drum Major with his staff.

Recto: “The musicians of the Brennus. Toulon bay 1900” in French and in black ink with fine script handwriting

29cm x 22cm Sepia print on stiff cardboard


Catalogue number 105006

Formation of a Ship's Music section, Amiral Duperré

These officers and men of the barbette battleship Amiral Duperré, commissioned 1883 with a complement over 660, are on board as ship’s musicians as can be seen by the lyre lapel badge. The bandmaster, center, has an interesting arm band on his left arm.

22.7cm x 14.4cm Photograph


Catalogue number 30046

An early Marine Nationale Ship's Music

Commissioned only slightly before the Amiral Duperré, 1878, but the band on Redoutable does not have the lyre lapel badge. Several musicians have “Maitre” lapel badges. The bandmaster, far right, has his medals on - the medal to his left looks like some kind of Legion d’honneur.

Recto: “La musique du “Redoutable”

Credit: ND. Phot.

16cm x 10.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 115085

Ship's Music from the battleship Provence

This photograph shows the band from the battleship Provence, there are quite a few musicians. Note the bandsman lapel badge for the officers.

14.1cm x 9 cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 112102

The band plays when leaving port

A small band is playing music as the ship goes through the lock gate and out to sea. Family and friends are on the dockside to wave goodbye. Two officers aft have binoculars to get a last close-up view of, perhaps, a loved one.

Recto: “Leaving for Spain” in German

Verso: “SMS Elsass” in light pencil

13.7cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 81002

Music for a visitor

The band of S.M.S. Westfalen gather round an army officer on board.

Verso: “Captain of the 14th Jäger on board” in German and in blue ink

10.8cm x 7.7cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114066

The band of H.M.S. Calypso

H.M.S. Calypso was a C class light cruiser commission in 1917. With a complement of 344 officers and men, she did well to have such a large and divers band. The band is made up of Royal Marines and Royal Navy with a bespectacled bandmaster. The Lieutenant Commander is fourth from the left.

13.6cm x 8.6cm Gelatin silver print

16cm x 10.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 121061

Music on the China station

H.M.S. Durban was a Danae class light cruiser which, from completion in 1921 to 1936, was mainly on station in China, the West Indies and in the Mediterranean. This photograph was taken when she was on the China station (from 1922 to 1928). Note shorts, wool socks, pith helmets and a Royal Marine drummer, far left.

Verso: “cir 1927 HMS Durban Band” in pencil

13.8cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 68058

A jazz band in the fleet

The choice of musical instruments for the “Hardi Jazz” band well reflects the tastes in music when the destroyer Hardi was commissioned, 1940. I suppose the man dressed as a woman was the singer, in another photograph he is shown with an immense bosom!

8.3cm x 5.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 71075

Bando !

A quiet moment on board the U.S. Huntington and, given the dating by the stamp box, we must assume that this is the Pennsylvania-class armoured cruiser commissioned in 1905, renamed U.S.S. Huntington in 1916 and decommissioned in 1930. A novelty in ship bands, the drummer far left also has a xylophone at his disposition.

Verso: The stamp box is from the period 1918 to 1930

12.5cm x 7.9cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 121108

Carrier concert

The boxing ring in the hangar deck of an escort carrier is the scene for music by a band and there is a large audience but it is more likely that the crowd is there for the boxing match which will follow the concert.

Recto: “Concert on an Escort carrier”

Credit: U.S. Navy Photo

8.7cm x 11.1cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 107002

Coaling to music

Coaling was hard and dirty work but the monotony of the task was softened a little by music from the ship’s band. Here, it looks like the battleship Provence in taking on coal from a collier tied up alongside. Coal is brought out of the hold in sacks or baskets and emptied out onto the deck from where it is shovelled down into the bunkers. One of the saxophonists has a lapel badge of a musician but the others are a rather motley crowed in ragged jackets and an assortment of headgear. Maybe even the musician have to take their turn at coaling.

11.1cm x 8cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 36003

The morning concert

This large group of musicians are giving a morning concert on an American battleship some time between 1910 to 1930.

Recto: “Morning concert”

Verso: Azo stamp box from 1910 to 1930

16cm x 10.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 91150

U.S.S. Enterprise

On the busy flight deck of U.S.S. Enterprise, these musiciens have found some space to give a morning concert.

Credit: M. Deschamps

27.4cm x 21cm Gelatin silver print


Individuals and small groups

Catalogue number 121004

A French quintet

Here is a brass band quintet - saxophone, French horn, trombone and two euphoniums.

6.2cm x 4.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 47303

Playing the banjo

For individuals to have a musical instrument on board, it had to be small. Here a French sailor is playing the banjo.

5.4cm x 8.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 45295

Playing to the seagulls

This photograph came from a series of photographs taken on an early French submarine and shows two crew members playing away in the open sea.

8.6cm x 5.6cm Sepia print


Rest and Relaxation

Catalogue number 65078

A party

Here is a joyful crowd listening to a band after a special meal in the Fort of Nice, a French wireless station was set up there in 1931. Several men have a TSF (Transmission sans fil, wireless) specialist shoulder badge.

17.1cm x 11.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 102067

French Navy jazz band

A quintet from the Marine Nationale provide the music for the “Nuit de la Marine”. The venue may be in one of the rooms of the Cercle Navale at Toulon.

10.9cm x 7.9cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 102041

Music and dancing

A brass band of the Imperial German Navy plays to the men after lunch whilst two sailors dance together.

Verso: “Playing music after lunch in Nagasaki” in German and in pencil

14cm x 9cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 37144

S.M.S. Goeben, 1914

If the date of this photograph is correct, then S.M.S. Goeben was at Constantinople and had become part of the Turkish Navy after a chase by the Royal Navy. This concert would provide a welcome break from the stress of having escaped from a superior force.

Recto: “….8./20.14” in black ink

14cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 29003

Internement concert

This and the following photograph were probably taken from an Austro-Hungarian warship interned at the end of the First World War. The Ship’s Music would provide a welcome respite whilst waiting to know their fate at the hands of the victorious Allies.

5.7cm x 4.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 29003

Internement concert

The bandmaster is also a violinist in the band. To the left of the photograph, we can see torpedo netting that has been placed over the vents in an attempt to prevent bombs and shell splinters from getting into the boiler room.

5.7cm x 4.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 121034

Dockside concert

The German High Seas Fleet was bottled up in port for long periods during the First World War and a quayside concert such as is shown in this photograph would help to break the monotony. Note the men looking out of the scuttles.

Recto: “A band plays to a small group from a light cruiser” in German.

Verso: “1919/20” in pencil

13.6cm x 8.7cm Gelatin silver print


Important people coming on board and ceremony

Catalogue number 80158

Quarterdeck, U.S.S. Albany

There is some kind of ceremony going on here aboard the guided missile cruiser U.S.S. Albany. Officers and men are on the quarter deck and one officer appears to have some kind of medallion in his hands (center foreground). A group of young men are waiting, far left, there is a civil photographer far right whilst members of the crew look on and the band is merrily playing away.

Credit: Ruggero Vio

8.8cm x 13.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 21038

French cruiser Emile Bertin, 1939

The Ship's Music is lined up on deck awaiting the arrival of distinguished visitors.

Verso: "Souvenir of Casablanca 30.1.39 on board the cruiser "Emile Bertin". The Ship's Music is waiting for the arrival of the Sultan of Marocco in the presence of General Nogues and Admiral Darlan, Chef d'Etat Major Général de la Marine" in French and in black ink

12.3cm x 7.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108054

H.M.S. Malaya, Port Said, 1920

A Royal Marine band and Guard with bugler are waiting to take on board Viscount Lord Allenby and his wife. Note the civilian by gun turret with two officers.

Recto: “Guard and Band. H.M.S. “Malaya” entering Port Said. 23.12.20”

13.4cm x 8.8cm Gelatin silver print


Playing ashore

Catalogue number 114051

Shore establishment, Portsmouth

Ship’s Music was the prerogative of the Royal Marines on large warships but as the shore establishments became bigger and bigger, they were able to put together bands from Royal Navy personnel. Here is a large band with a fine array of officers - from left to right, commander, commodore and lieutenant-commander - and the bandmaster is a Petty officer with three good conduct stripes. There is a good show of medals too. If we cannot read the cap tally, on the bass drum left is written “Portsmouth”.

19cm x 8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 86 F1

H.M.S. Vernon

H.M.S. Vernon was a shore establishment of the Royal Navy at Portsmouth dockyard. Initially a torpedo trials center, H.M.S; Vernon was also responsible for mine development, mining, countermeasures and disposal. Several seamen have the single torpedo with star above non-substantive badge of leading seaman torpedoman. The Chaplain is probably the music conductor.

28.9cm x 19cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 114065

H.M.S. Vincent

H.M.S. Vincent was commissioned as a training establishment for boys and juniors and we can see that the bandsmen are very young. The band is leading seamen out from the parade ground. Two Royal Marines are keeping a sharp eye of the band.

Verso: “St. Vincent Gosport c 1934” in pencil

14cm x 8.7cm Gelatin silver print

Catalogue number 114085

Royal Navy Barracks, Devonport

The naval barracks at Devonport was H.M.S. Vivid up to 1934 when it was renamed H.M.S. Drake. Note the steam-engined lorry in the background, it looks like a Leyland steam-powered lorry of the early 1900s, thus giving an indication of the period that the photograph was taken.

Recto: “Bluejackets band Royal Naval Barracks. Devonport.

Credit: Abrahams

13cm x 7.7cm Gelatin silver print