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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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Let the Music Playicon for Recommended story

by GerryJ

Contributed by 
GerryJ
People in story: 
Nat Jackson, Gerald Jackson
Location of story: 
Germany 1945/6
Background to story: 
Army
Article ID: 
A2689716
Contributed on: 
01 June 2004

Side 1 - BBC recording of the REME Workshops Band recorded in Germany 1945/6

My father — the late Nat Jackson — spent most of the war serving with the REME. He told me that he 'volunteered', something not recommended! But in his case he joined a relatively new unit that he stayed with throughout the war and carried out some invaluable work.

The REME workshops also had a BAND, and my father played a number of instruments including violin, saxophone and musical saw (his party piece!) They played big band favourites of the day, and I’m sure entertained their colleagues whenever the opportunity arose.

Although Dad rarely talked about where he served — or what they did — I can remember quite clearly the day that he produced three 78 rpm records. One was a full 12 inch BBC Transcription disc, and the other two 10 inch copies of other original recordings. As he played them on the radiogram, he explained how the band leader had managed to get the REME on record in return for a big favour!

Apparently the BBC outside broadcast truck was in Germany at the end of the war, and my father was there in his REME capacity and also charged with POW duty. The driver of the truck came to the workshops to ask for help. The vehicle had broken down, and needed their help to get it back on the road. The ever resourceful unit man in charge saw a wonderful opportunity to get their band on disc, and agreed to do the maintenance work in return for a recording session.

The deal was done- and the truck got its service as the REME band made their recording debut!

I don’t know how many sides they managed to record, but once the discs were handed over, someone managed to take them to Belgium where at Disque Bluer they were copied so everyone could have a memento to take home.

I am proud to own one of the original discs (see picture) and two of the copies. Sadly only the BBC master will play these days, and Dad passed away in 1970, so I have no way of discovering any more about his brief recording career.

There’s just one PS to this story. As I said Dad also played the music saw, and he told me that before leaving Germany, he played it at Christmas for the POW’s. He chose the beautiful Christmas Carol 'Silent Night', and that performance was somewhat historic. I don’t know how many of those prisoners knew that the man playing one of their favourite festive tunes was also Jewish.

Gerald Jackson (June 2004)

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