A.H Maxted, Ex.Bandsman — Trumpeter, 4th Q.O.Hussars
In 1923, I enlisted in the 4th Queens Own Hussars, who at that time was stationed in Muttra, India. I was therefore temporarily attached to the 10th P.W.O. Hussars, Cavalry Barracks, Canterbury, for training in riding school, sword drill, musketry, foot drill etc.
The 10th Hussars were then moved to South Cavalry Barracks, Aldershot some three months later. Every man available in the Regiment was then paraded on the square and instructed, in no uncertain terms, that very strict discipline would be enforced by all ranks to set an example to other cavalry and infantry regiments stationed close by. All WOs and NCOs became very regimental indeed!
The Regimental Military Police soon had a large squad of troops on pack drill, in full marching order, proceeding at ‘Highland Light Infantry’ pace, on the barrack square. A 24-hour guard was posted on the Main Gate each evening (dismounted order), burnished steel swords by day and .303 rifles at night.
The trumpeter on duty took up his duties with the new guard and after the Orderly Officer’s inspection, he was then dismissed and returned to the Band Block. After he had sounded Evening Defaulters, Last Post and Lights Out, he was allowed to retire for the night in the Band Block.
In the days of horses, ‘Night Line Guards’ were mounted by each Squadron, they carried no weapons and were armed with a hurricane lamp and a foolscap size board on which were pasted Regimental Orders. Their duties involved visiting each stable to ensure all horses were secure in the respective stalls and to observe Fire Regulations etc.
As ‘C’ Squadron was adjacent to the Band Block, the ‘Line Guard’ had an additional duty to carry out.
At 0500 hours, he would proceed to the first floor of the Band Building, note the name and location of the Duty Trumpeter on the notice board and awaken him. This gave the trumpeter adequate time to dress and walk along to the Cookhouse, where a cup of tea (or ‘Gun Fire’) was on the brew for himself and the cookhouse staff.
At precisely 0600 hours, he would have stood (on the white spot) in the centre of the Square and sounded the Regimental Call, followed by Reveille.
Alas! On this occasion, the Line Guard completely failed in his duty and forgot to call the trumpeter. This man suddenly awoke, looked at his wristwatch, realised he could not possibly make it in time, opened the window and proceeded to give a not-too-good-a-rendering of Regimental Call and Reveille in his underpants.
At that time, we had an extremely disagreeable character, an NCO, who, at whatever hour, was always immaculately turned out and never smiled. He would march around barracks, looking for trouble.
It so happened, this prowling NCO stood outside the Band Block at 0600 hours and witnessed the incident as described above. At the end of the sounding of Reveille, the trumpeter hurriedly attempted to close the window but was interrupted by the following statement given in a very loud voice, from the NCO below:
‘Oy — you — Mr Bloody — Beet — Oven or ‘Gentleman of the Regiment’, Report to Squadron Office 1100 hrs. Charge — Improperly dressed — Absent off Parade’.
It so happened, the Late Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was my Troop Officer in those days. As the Squadron Leader was away on a course, Prince Henry was acting for him; an awful lot of activity went on at 1100 hrs on that day in the Squadron Office. Prince Henry confirmed the Charge and awarded the punishment!
It was noted that same evening, the Line Guard, together with the Trumpeter was seen in full marching order with the Defaulters Squad, somewhat hurriedly marching up and down the square.
At a later date, I noted this particular NCO reading Regimental Orders which stated:
‘All Trumpeters in future will remain in the Guard Room for the full 24 hours and will only leave to sound Regimental Calls’.
Did I detect a smug look on the NCO’s face? I’ll never know, because the following week, I sailed to India and arrived at Bombay 23 days later.