CAPEL BRITISH LEGION DRUM AND FIFE BAND
An article in the Courier of November 16th 1979, an edited version of which appears below, served as a reminder of the days when Capel had its own band.
A gift from the past - a bass drum that once belonged to Capel British Legion Drum and Fife Band - was presented to Mascalls School, Paddock Wood, on Friday, during a special assembly for Remembrance Day.
Making the presentation, chairman of Kent British Legion, Mr. Bernard Bulcraig, told the children from the Lower School: "I hope you understand that this is given, for safe keeping, with love."
With him at the presentation was veteran of the 1914-18 War Mr. William Woodgate, of 9 Falmouth Place, Five Oak Green, a former side-drummer in the Capel Band, who was wounded on the Western Front. Other members of the party were younger veterans of the Second World War, Mr. Bert Joyce, who once played the bass drum in the Capel Band, Mr. Sam Joyce, Mr. Jack Walker and Mr. Gordon Sceal.
Mr. George Twort, former bandmaster of the Capel Band and one of its founders, was unable to attend the ceremony because of indifferent health, but he sent along a set of fifes and a flute, which had also belonged to the Band. Mr. Twort is also a veteran of the 1914-18 War.
The Capel British Legion Drum and Fife Band was formed in 1932, with an old bass drum and two kettle drums bought from a defunct Scout Band, and 11 flutes. Members paid one penny a week.
They practised marching around the headlands of Moat Farm Hop Gardens to the tune of Around the Marble Arch. After about six weeks the bandsmen were so fed up with the Marble Arch that they never played it again.
By May, 1933, the band was so proficient that it was decided to buy uniforms. The members paid one shilling a week towards these, and the band paid £5 deposit.
Eventually, however, after fund-raising efforts including stopwatch competitions, football sweepstakes and a two-hour revue, written and produced by Bert Joyce, called The Scarlet Girls, all the bandsmen got their money back. They also bought four new guards tub drums and an ornate apron for the bass drummer.
The band was in great demand in the surrounding district for church parades, Hospital Sunday parades and Armistice parades. In 1934 they attended the British Legion (South Eastern) Rally in Brighton, where more than 25,000 took part in the parade.
When the Second World War started only one Home Guard parade was held, and after this the band ceased to operate. An attempt was made in 1948 to get it going again and one Armistice parade was held, but there was not enough interest and the uniforms, so proudly purchased in 1933, were full of moth holes.
The instruments were stored in various lofts and attics. The side drums disintegrated and gradually many of the others disappeared. But the bass drum was kept safely at the King's Head, Five Oak Green, and Bert Joyce, who carried it in many a parade in the past, cleaned it up for the presentation to Mascalls. The bearskin apron had been used as a pram cover for his first child, then as a rug and finally it wore out.