17th Pals’ Battalion Band (incorporating Leyton Orient Buglers)

17th Pals’ Battalion Band (incorporating Leyton Orient Buglers)

The Band was originally formed in 2012 by officers, staff, former officers and boys of the 17th Waltham Forest Boys’ Brigade Company which is based in Highams Park Baptist Church.

Former and current members from other Companies have since joined the band, namely 6th 9th Enfield and 28th Waltham Forest, 14th Haringey and 2nd Sawston.

In 2015, it became known as the 17th Pals’ Battalion Band due to its considerable work commemorating the service and sacrifice made by the professional footballers, staff and supporters who volunteered to serve in the 17th Battalion Middlesex Regiment – more commonly known as the Footballers’ Battalion.

The band particularly remembers the forty-one players, staff and supporters of Clapton Orient which was the first Football League club to join-up en masse.

Three O’s players were killed on the Somme in 1916 – William Jonas, Richard McFadden and George Scott and ten others were wounded.

In 2006, three current members of the band, Norman Coe, Stephen Jenkins and Bob Sargeant formed the Leyton Orient Buglers when they performed in conjunction with pipers from the Leyton branch of the Royal British Legion on the very first O’s Somme Tour, which was held in July that year.

They also were present on the Somme Tours in 2008, 2011 before the 17th Pals’ Battalion Band was formed, after which the entire band specifically trained to perform to its highest capability during the 2016 Somme Tour and then the inaugural tour to Ypres in 2017. Most recently, the band participated in the 2018 O’s Somme Tour.

The highlights of the each of the Somme tours include playing ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ at the gravesides of Clapton Orient players, George Scott and Richard McFadden as well as at the Thiepval Memorial where O’s centre-forward William Jonas is commemorated.

In 2016, the band had the honour to parade at Thiepval as part of the special centenary commemorations held on 23rd July (100 years to the day that the 17th Middlesex arrived on the Somme), which was televised on the BBC Breakfast programme. The band also performed in Arras Town Square during the tour.

As part of the Ypres Tour in 2017, the band was honoured to parade in the Town Square as well as at the world-famous Menin Gate, during which the buglers took part in the Last Post ceremony when they played ‘Reveille’, pairing up with the Ypres Fire Brigade buglers who play ‘Last Post’ each evening at 8pm local time. This was without doubt the proudest moment to date for everyone connected with the 17th Pals’ Battalion Band since its formation in 2012.

Back home the band regularly assists the Leyton branch Royal British Legion when it leads the Remembrance Sunday parade and the buglers playing ‘Last Post’ and ‘Reveille’ during the wreath-laying ceremony. It has also lead the annual St George’s Day parade and the Christmas Fayre in Highams Park.

The band practices on a Wednesday evening at Highams Park Baptist Church, Cavendish Road, London, E4 9NG and is always on the look-out for additional members, so should you be interested in joining, please contact the band master Steve Jenkins either by phone 07971 146502 or email stevejenkins1881@btinternet.com