Updated: Feb 27
In the early hours of 16 Jan 23, The Band of The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment, accompanied by musicians from The Honourable Artillery Company, Royal Yeomanry and Royal Gibraltar Regiment boarded an RAF Voyager aircraft to begin an 8000-mile eagerly awaited deployment to The Falkland Islands. Some 16 hours later, we finally touched down at Mount Pleasant on this remote South Atlantic archipelago, to begin our 10-day visit in support of the Falkland Islands Roulement Infantry Company, which in this case was our very own 3rd Battalion.
After a day of rehearsals, it was immediately into our first engagement - performing for the enthusiastic children of Mount Pleasant Primary School. Armed with an array of particularly corny Dad-type-jokes, the DOM led the way, even featuring a rendition of ‘Music Man’ which proved very popular to staff and students alike.
Of course…you do NOT travel to the Falklands without hoping to see penguins! Taking an afternoon out of our busy schedule, the next day we headed off to the local ‘Bertha’s Beach’, where not only did we see 100’s of the cute little local residents but also dolphins and seals…a truly magical experience.
Back to work, our first major concert was to a passionate and supportive audience on the base, where we were joined by the 18-strong ladies of the Falkland Islands Military Wives Choir….it was certainly a great way to kick-off a string of 3 similar type events over a busy weekend.
Saturday evening saw us play to a packed Stanley Town Hall, where there was literally standing room only! Once again, the Military Wives were in wonderful voice, ably conducted by WO2 Tom Rundle-Wood, Bandmaster Royal Gibraltar Regiment. Unsurprisingly, the ladies stole the show with a closing patriotic Union-Jack -waving- rendition of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory …cue the standing ovation!
Our final concert saw us once again in Stanley but on this occasion playing in the majestic setting of the City’s Cathedral. Attended by Her Excellency Alison Blake, (Governor of the Islands), it proved another extremely well attended event, bringing the musical aspect to our tour to a fitting close.
Putting down our instruments and with many of us vividly remembering the 1982 conflict unfolding on TV back in UK, we were very keen to visit the key sites of San Carlos and Goose Green to truly understand the challenges the vast Task Force undertook to retake the Islands. We also paused to also pay our respects to those service personnel who never returned home, making the ultimate sacrifice.
Following a highly competitive final evening of 10-pin bowling, it was soon time to make the long journey back to Brize Norton…with a real sense of job well done. Meeting and performing for both the Military and Civilian communities was a tremendous privilege, alongside making new friends and creating memories that will remain with us forever.