Mr T Challis. Bandmaster.


PSTS Band-master, Mr T. Challis.

My Father joined the RM Band Service as a 14 yr old boy in 1934, he trained for 4yrs and in 1938 he was drafted to his first ship the Cruiser HMS Glasgow. His principal instruments were Violin, Clarinet and Saxophone. He was drafted from HMS Glasgow to HMS Manchester, another Cruiser. He was on board her in the TS(transmitting Station) when she was torpedoed in the Med. Swift repairs were made and she sailed for the Philadelphia Naval yard for major repairs. All in all they were there for 9months,this included when the japs bombed Pearl Harbour.

After repairs HMS Manchester sailed back to Pompey and dad got a draft to Chatham. It was during this time that HMS Manchester was sunk in the Med, whilst taking part in operation Pedestal.

Whilst this was going on dad got another draft to HMS Berwick, you guessed it another Cruiser, unfortunately she was designated for the Russian run. The ship did the Russian Convoy run for nearly 12 months.

After the war things settled down but not the draft chits and in 1947 dad got a draft chit to HMS Norfolk bound for the Ceylon Sqdrn . He and the band were present when India became independent, the RM Band of Norfolk was the last Military band to play the British National Anthem in India and the first Military Band to play the new Indian anthem.

When he came home there were short drafts, the major one was a married accompanied draft to Malta GC, to take up his post as Assistant Bandmaster of the Med Fleet. This was the highlight of his career, only the best were even considered for this posting. We arrived in Feb.1956 and in April 1956 he took the RM Band on board HMS Dalrymple and sailed for Monaco for Grace Kelly’s wedding to Prince Ranier.

After numerous cruises all over the Med. including Suez on board HMS Manxman, we came home in Sept.1958

His next draft was to the PSTS, in a lot of ways his most satisfying and rewarding.

When he left PSTS he became a printer with the Bournemouth Echo.


As far as I am concerned, yes I did join the Royal Marines and served with 41 Commando, I then transferred over to the Royal Navy Combined Ops and became a Naval Commando, with a small unit called MAOT (mobile air operations team). I saw service in both Aden and Borneo.

I hope this answers all your questions about dad, any more, you know where I am. Regards, stay safe, Tom C.