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The Band That Went to War (Hardback)

The Royal Marines Band in the Falklands War

Falklands 20th Century Military

By Brian Short
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 216
Illustrations: 100 mono integrated
ISBN: 9781399096409
Published: 30th November 2021
This Week's Best Sellers Rank: #6

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The Royal Marines are renowned for their military skill and also for having one of the finest military bands in the world. These highly trained and talented musicians are equally at home parading at Buckingham Palace, playing at the Royal Albert Hall, or on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier in a foreign port.

Why then when the Argentines invaded the Falklands in April 1982 did these superb musicians get involved in what became a serious and deadly military campaign? The answer is that, in addition to their musical expertise, the RM Band Service members are trained for military service and fully qualified in a multitude of military and medical skills, providing support to their comrades, the fighting commandos.

The Band That Went to War is a graphic first-hand account of the Falklands War as it has never been told before. It describes the roles played by Royal Marine musicians in the conflict; unloading the wounded from helicopters, moving tons of stores and ammunition, burying their dead at sea and guarding and repatriating Argentine prisoners of war. These and other unseen tasks were achieved while still ready to provide morale boosting music to their commando brethren and other frontline troops. These men are not just musicians; they are Royal Marines.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This factual account of the Royal Marine Band that went to the Falklands in 1982 is a refreshing new look on an aspect of British Military that has endured to the present day. The presence of a band or individual musicians during wartime has long proved to be of benefit to troops and sailors whether for sending messages, signaling actions, or providing the beat for marching, to providing entertainment during time of calm. The public have come to revere military bands for their precision and professionalism and this book shows all sides of a Military Band at war and the other side of a bandsman’s duties when he lays down his musical instrument.
A most enjoyable book to the other side of life of the Military bandsman.

NetGalley, Sandra Miller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A side to the Falklands War that I haven't really been aware of, the Royal Marine Band Service is well served by this book. Written with some appropriate humour, but never losing sight of the human cost of the war, the author reflects an important event in British history.

Very much front and centre was the waste of lives caused by diplomacy being unsuccessful, war and conflict were never glorified and were almost incidental to the telling of the RMBS service. There are useful references to other reading matter that covers the war in more details, but this one concentrates on the support delivered by the musicians.

I found it really moving, informative and humorous, never maudlin.

You don't have to be a fan of military tales to find something in this book to enjoy.

NetGalley, Simon Alphonso

It was delivered lunchtime and I had read it by teatime. An excellent read with humour and emotion freely entwined. An illuminating expose of a small specialist unit at war, and I agree with the author that it was a war. Buy now or add to your Xmas list - you won’t regret it.

Adrian Wilkinson

i have had the privelage of an early reading of the book and must declare an interest as I also served with the author in The Royal Marine band.
The book is written in Brian's inimitable style with a great balance of humour and genuine warmth for all the brave participants , many who made the ulimate sacrifice.
He briefly covers the history of Royal Marine Bands during previous conflicts and compares it with how the public normally see the Bands on ceremonial occassions worldwide.
I'm sure all the crew members of the SS Canberra and all the troops who travelled south on her will recognise and acknowledge the memories of that incredible voyage.
It's not only the people who shared the experience that will be enthralled by the book which gives an insight into the way so many servicemen and civilians from all walks of life pulled together to combat a common enemy of the time.
It is a fine and entertaining record of the conflict from a viewpoint that is not often heard.
i would give it 4/5 . but only because he has spelt my name incorrectly throughout the book! otherwise it would be 5/5.
Congratulations Brian , proud to have served with you.

Irfon Higgins

As we approach the 40th Anniversary of the Falklands War, it serves as a timely reminder of what Britain achieved at that time, by putting together a Task Force in a matter of days and sailing 8,000 miles to the Falklands Islands. When setting sail from Southampton in early April 1982, very few of the Royal Marines Band on board SS Canberra would realise what an important cog in the gears of War they would become.

Brian Short's excellent book deals with every task the Band undertook during their 3 months 3 days at sea, from the time-honoured stretcher bearing duties to the guarding of Prisoners of War, often taking a rather humorous look at life on board the requisitioned Ocean Liner, but also covering the many sad duties.

Reading the names of the RM Commando Forces Band (“Canberra’s Own” as they became known!) I soon realised that a quarter of the Band have crossed the bar. What Brian has achieved in his book, is a lasting History, not just for the ones of us who remain, but for the families of those who are no longer with us.

I may have already known a lot of what happened in 1982, because I was in the Band!

But there is someone I didn’t know a lot about and that is the man himself, Brian Short. His book tells us about his father (also Brian Short) killed at Suez, 2 months before he was born. Then follows a rather troubled upbringing, until the time that Brian joined the Royal Marines Band Service. It also covers life after the RMBS, his time in the Old Bill, then working as a local businessman and the resurrection of the Sergeants’ Mess Pantomimes.

One of Brian’s greatest qualities is his sense of humour (which shines through in the book!) His ability to make people smile is infectious, even during the Argentine Air raids in San Carlos (Bomb Alley)

Bryan Walker

About Brian Short

Brian Short joined the Royal Marines in 1973 not as a commando but as a musician in the world renowned Royal Marine Band Service. He was in Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles, witnessed the Deal Barracks bomb attack which killed eleven colleagues, and was operationally deployed during the Falklands War, as described in this book.


Retiring in 1989 he became a police officer for 14 years which presented him with a different set of challenges. He now lives in South East England where he continues play and enjoy music.

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