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'No one can say for certain where the soul of the battalion lives,' wrote Rudyard Kipling in 1915, 'but the expression of that soul is most often found in the band. A wise and sympathetic bandmaster can lift a battalion out of depression, cheer it up in sickness, and steady and recall it to itself in times of almost unendurable stress.'

For 250 years military bands have occupied a unique role in the British Army, supporting the soldiers, serving in the ranks during wartime and acting as a point of contact with a wider society. At the peak of military music in the late-19th century, there were more than 150 bands in the Army, attracting audiences of tens of thousands to open-air concerts. A hundred years later, the figure was down to just 29 bands and falling.

A three-volume series by Gordon Turner (formerly Director of Music of the Royal Signals) and his son, Alwyn W Turner, traces the history of every band to have served in the British Army. A further volume tells the story of the Royal Military School of Music at Kneller Hall, founded in 1857.

The History of British Military Bands
(three volumes)
by Gordon Turner & Alwyn W Turner
published by Spellmount Ltd, 1994-97
The Trumpets Will Sound
by Gordon Turner & Alwyn W Turner
published by Parapress, 1996