- Contributed by
- People in story:
- Joyce Grenfell, Commodore Daniel de Pass: Commodore Duke: Cammandor in Chief Sir John Cunningham:
- Location of story:
- Lowestoft, Suffolk. Algiers, North Africa, Oran
- Background to story:
- Royal Navy
- Article ID:
- Contributed on:
- 15 November 2005
The Navy's BLUE MARINERS
WORLD WAR II The Royal Navy’s BLUE MARINERS
part 2 continued:
Evening entertainment became a deserving priority. This was made easier because the Central Depot had been a Town Council Amusement Park in peacetime and boasted a splendid Concert hall! No training Depot is without a Royal Marine Band for parade work, and in the evening as an orchestra they did wonders. The Navy knows a lot about making its own fun with Concert Parties. Add to that the fact that Dunkirk led to many men becoming eager to serve in the Navy, and we had many in our ranks who came from the world of entertainment in London. We put it all into good use and created a Dance Band called "The Royal Navy BLUE MARINERS.” They were the Royal Navy’s challenge to the Squadronaires and the Blue Mariners were celebrating the fact that they were composed of men who had played for the famous dance bands of London. Here are their names and the celebrated dance bands for whom they had played.
George Crowe Pianist Jack Jackson
Hughie Ratcliffe Trumpet Henry Hall
Freddie Gardner Saxophone Jay Wilbur
Reg Pink Saxophone Jay Wilbur
Freddy Latham Vocalist Henry Hall
Ronnie Clitheroe Trombone Jack Chadwick
AI Jennings Bass
During the long winter months from 1941 to 1944, we tried to do the utmost with our own resources at Lowestoft to provide lots of music, song and dance, and we endeavoured to amuse not only the navy men but also the several hundred landladies in the town who had been billeting thousands of our men throughout the time that mobilisation of the fishing fleet began in the summer of 1939. We were even able to take our shows out to the USAF Airfields close to Lowestoft. Freddie Gardner's Saxophone really "sent them"!! They would never let him leave the stage.
In the course of arranging concerts it was suggested that Joyce Grenfell might come down with one or two fellow actors or actresses and give a show for the men. Unfortunately the men didn’t take to Joyce Grenfell but the evening performance was notably different when there were a few officers in the audience who did enjoy her humour.
Early in 1944, there was a change of command at Lowestoft, with the departure of Commodore de Pass who was relieved by Commodore Duke, who brought his own secretary.
Where was my next assignment?
It was to the Mediterranean, to Algiers in North Africa to the staff of the British Naval Commander in Chief Admiral Sir John Cunningham. I sailed in a convoy of ships on board the SS Capetown Castle. The convoy stopped at Oran. We disembarked and completed the rest of the journey by train.
Our armies were fighting through Italy and by July 1944 it was important for the Allied Force Headquarters to be there too.
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