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History

Although The Royal Corps of Signals was formed in 1920, the band can trace its heritage as far back to the band of the 1st Division, Telegraph Battalion of the Royal Engineers (RE) which was formed in 1884. The Telegraph Battalion RE was disbanded when the creation of the Signals Service took place in 1908. During the First World War there was no question of forming a Signal Service Band as support for new types of entertainment was not considered important.

The official formation date of the present Royal Signals Band has been open to much debate, but the earliest reference was uncovered in an edition of the Corps Journal, The Wire, in 1923. Upon the establishment of the Signals Service Centre at Maresfield Park in East Sussex and the eventually the Corps in 1920, a few former musicians from the RE Depot Band who had been transferred into the newly-formed Corps, commenced work in attempting to form the nucleus of a Corps Band. 1920 also witnessed a reduction in the size of the Army; the first of many, continuing even in modern times!

Details of the intention to form a 'first class volunteer band, at the Signal Training Centre, Maresfield Park' were circulated. As a result bandsmen from 5th Royal Irish Lancers, 6th Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, 29th Hussars, 21st Lancers Connaught Rangers, Leinster Regiment and the Middlesex Regiment all joined the Signals Depot Band. Although it was still in its infancy, the band was used to full effect advertising the new Corps. The band was soon involved in playing on parade, and for small fees to bolster the band fund, at garden fetes, village sports events and even weddings. Each newcomer to the band had to first obtain a trade rating in the Corps such as lineman, operator, driving horse transport etc.

The Signals training Camp moved from East Sussex to Catterick in Yorkshire in 1925. Around this time, the question of what the band should wear arose. Many senior officers had come from a variety of regiments and each one had their own ideas of adopting embellishments from their former regiment. One point on which everyone was in agreement was that the Band should follow the cavalry pattern as the Corps was officially still classed as a mounted outfit. In 1926 the dress for the band was approved by the Corps Committee as:

  • Hussar busby with black bag and red plume, ornated by a large gilt Signals badge, underlined by 'Certa Cito'
  • Scarlet tunic, black piping, black cuffs, edged with gold braid, with chevrons also in gold braid
  • A black webbing waist girdle
  • Black arguillettes, worn from the left shoulder
  • Overalls, blue, with broad red stripe
  • Wellington dress boots, with swan necked spurs affixed

It was not until the 29 August 1938 that a letter was sent from the War Office announcing that the Army Council had approved the formation of a minor Staff Band for the Corps. In the early seventies the Band moved from Catterick Garrison to the School of Signals at Blandford Forum in Dorset where is stayed until 2014 when they moved to RAF Cosford, which is now their permanent home.

Under recent changes within the Corps of Army Music the band now operates as a Brass Band and remains the primary public face of the Corps, performing to troops and entertaining both civilian and serving personnel on countless occasions worldwide. The variety of engagements has remained virtually unchanged since 1884, and the format for functions is as traditional as it ever has been.

 

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