A report that every county in this district had gone over the top in the Sixth War Loan drive was a highlight yesterday of the concert by the Royal Air Force Band and Symphony Orchestra which attracted a capacity audience of music-lovers to the city auditorium.
THE SALES report was made by Dr. W. G. Lee, Fifteenth District chairman, who also presented T. I. Denmark, Bibb County chairman.
The musical presentation opened with the National Anthem, followed by the Air Corps song in tribute to Uncle Sam's air forces. Then, after a number of British tunes, the symphony took over and rounded out the program with popular selections.
THE 105-PIECE band was directed by Wing Commander R. P. O'Donnell, M. V. O., who for 12 years was director of music on the royal yacht of King George V. He was assisted by Pilot Officer John Hollingsworth, youngest British conductor to have directed the London Symphony. Sgt. David Martin was concertmaster.
Employes and military personnel steped into the New Year's work this week after one of the largest celebrations ever held on the field. Thousands attended the New Year's party in Operations hangar Saturday night, where they were entertained by 105 musicians of the Royal Air Force band and danced to the Robins Field orchestra. Music was provided by Ray Melton's Rhythm Makers for square dancing.
Both the symphony orchestra and military band units of the RAF organization played on a special platform built for the concert. Led by Wing Commander R. P. O'Donnell, the British band offered a varied program that won enthusiastic favor with the guests.
Col. Thomas H. Chapman WRATSC commanding officer, welcomed the visiting musicians who are in this country for a tour of Army Air Forces installations while the AAF band is touring England in a reciprocal arrangement.
Colonel Chapman also spoke to the employes pointing out that the work load of the command would be increased for the new year and that individual efforts would have to be increased if we are to fulfill our jobs.
Sunday afternoon the military unit of the RAF band paraded in downtown Macon preceding a concert by the RAF ensemble in the City Auditorium which was filled to capacity. The program was presented under the joint sponsorship of the Macon War Finance Committee and the Warner Robins Air Technical Service Command. The audience, generous with its applause throughout the concert, brought Wing Commander O'Donnell back three times at the concision of the program.
New Year's has come and gone and so has the RAF band. Just as with the celebration of the year's changing, we were getting to the point of being exceedingly pleased with the whole idea, when the band was boarding the train on its way to Miami.
The men of the band are a grand lot of fellows, and they left thanking us for everything, even Sunday's perfect weather, which provided the biggest kick for them. Sgt. Browne, trombone player, who made his rating last year after 30 years of army service, was beside himself with the enjoyment of it all. "Blimey, they'll never believe us at home, when we tell them about getting up a sweat on New Year's eve," he said, not quite believing it himself. "Back at home out folks are huddled around a fire warming their fronts while their backs freeze."
The NCO Club, which they called the mess, was a bright spot in their visit. They would skip off to enjoy its facilities at every opportunity. "The fellows at the 'mess' were damned decent about it, you know," a group of Lacs (Pfcs to us) chorused, "we didn't belong there at all, but they certainly mede us feel at home even though we were almost crowding them out of their own club.
Eggs, butter, fresh fruit and sugar were viewed by them as just another "bloomin' Yankee miracle." S/Sgt. Joe Galica, mess sergeant of the 4515th the organization which handled the messing and billeting of the visitors, was signally honored with a "hip, hip, horray," by the laddies from the Empire. The "hip, hip" also included a unanimous vote of thanks to Capt. Peter Burnett, 4515th CO and his men, who went all the way to make the RAF musicians, comfortable. The visitors had praise for everything even the special brew of tea that was made for them. We make tea that is as bad to their taste as their coffee is to ours, but they had no complaints.
The program planned for their visit here had them bouncing arround from spot to spot, but they enjoyed every minute of it due to the attention of Major Daniel C. Anderson and his staff of transportation aids, who kept everything on time without difficulty or fuss, moving the 105 mem and their six tons of equipment from place to place with the ease of a taxi trip.
Just before the bandsmen were to make their final goodbyes, a large number of them gathered in PX No.4. With a few bottles of brew under their belts, they dropped their usual reserve and gathered the GIs into their spirit of the occasion. The building rocked with their songs, a session they concluded by singing Auld Lang Syne, with the equally traditional unbroken handsclaps around the room. Hitting the proper note for the occasion, they were loath to leave, but time, tide and railroad trains wait for no man, not even a jubilant RAF bandsman.
Reluctantly, we made our goodbyes, most of them promising to see us again as soon after the war as the immigration quotas would allow. As they boarded each held a tight grasp upon an attractive leather wallet and card case, a gift of the enlisted men of the post, provided by Major Verne M. Hamilton.
"Cheerio lads, thumbs up till we see you again."
THE RAF CONCERT
Editor, The Telegraph:
We, of the South, have been criticised for our acquiescence, and have more than once been taken to task for an absence of exuberance and enthusiasm which has often been misconstructed as a lack of intelligence and appreciation. If tumultuous applause can be credited as a symptom of intelligent appreciation, then no deficit of that quality may be charged to the capacity audience which greeted the Royal Air Force military band and orchestra on the occasion of their concert given at the municipal auditorium in the afternoon of the final day of 1944.
I have been asked, by several music-lovers privileged to hear the consummate musicianship of those talented English artists, to add a printed word to the audible applause so sincerely bestowed on them at the auditorium.
No critical analysis of the many delightful numbers need be recorded as a testimonial of gratitude from the many who heard those finished artists play, and who observed in the musicians from the island across the sea a dignity and restraint so deplorably wanting of late in much of our American life and expression. The enchanting poetry of the Meditation; the seductive charm of the Tschaikowsky waltz; the perfect rendition of the William Tell Overture, and the profound spirituality of the Bache fugue- to mention but four numbers remembered at random from the varied program-need no comment to emphasize the excellence of their execution by the band and orchestra.
If, then, these humble syllables should, by any chance, come to the attention of the members of that British organization, let there be added to our gratitude a paraphrase of their own English poet- "the music in our hearts we bore long after it was heard no more."
Macon. PAUL DAMOUR