100 Men From Britain Find Fun And A Touch Of Home Here By Lorilott Wiedmann
Last Friday afternoon over 100 travel-weary men of the Royal Air Force band and their officers arrived at the Ocean Palms Hotel where they were welcomed by Col. Louis L. Roberts and a group of officers from RS3. When the British officers had taken their places with Colonel Robert's group our band struck up "God Save The King." Then to the strains of a march the RAF men filled into their quarters at the Ocean Palms Hotel.
That evening many of them were making friends with the men and women of this station at the enlisted men's dance in the Miramar Hotel. There were returnees who had been to Britain since the Englishmen had left there on their tour of the United States and they could give them late news of their home land.
Those who did not go to the dance visited the Hollywood Canteen. Many found that they could hardly walk more than a few steps before friendly civilians here would stop to invite them to their homes.
Next morning the British visitors paraded from Union Station to the Los Angeles City Hall where they were officially welcomed by Mayor Fletcher Bowron. There the military band offered a concert of martial music. When they returned to the Miramar Hotel they met men of the symphonic section who had used their spare time to visit some of Hollywood's major studios. Oh yes, they had seen all the stars and had autographed pictures, notebooks and postcards to prove it.
In the make-believe world of the studios they had strolled down Berlin streets and been delighted to come upon an English country scene. They felt a trifle nostalgic at the sight of a pub- or rather two walls of a pub- but then they laughed it off: "Couldn't get anything but Spam these days, so let's go on and see the stars!"
Fred Astaire welcomed them on the impressive set of "Yolanda and the Thief"; Robert Benchley came out of his dressing room on the stage where "Waldorf Astoria" is being made and seemed as interested in his English visitors as they were in him. Out on the lot again they stopped to peak into the cockpit of a British Blenheim plane- made of beaverboard- and asked to take just one look at MGM's London cab.
Monday marked the night of the band's formal appearance in UCLA's Royce Hall. Here the RAF was received enthusiastically by a bond-buying audience which included many of Hollywood's celebrities and filled the house to capacity. Major Robert R. Glen of the British Societies for Southern California acted as a master of ceremonies until Basil Rathbone arrived from his broadcast later in the evening.
After the playing of the national anthems of Britain and the United States the orchestra, under the direction of Wing Commander R. P. O'Donnell, MVO, opened the concert with Dvorak's Carnival Overture. Between the concert pieces Basil Rathbone recited "Riding the Wind," the now-famous poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., an RCAF pilot who was killed in action in 1941. Such stars as Dame May Whitty, Greer Garson and Sir Aubrey Smith addressed the men of the RAF on behalf of Los Angeles' numerous British residents.
After the concert there was still time to rush back to the Miramar where Gene Krupa was offering somewhat ligther music at the President's Birthday Ball for enlisted men.
When the Englishmen prerared for their departure for San Francisco the next afternoon they were unanimous in their praise of AAFRS3. Many said they had had the best time here of all their tour.
Post Audiences Are Thrilled by Ace Bandsmen
Western hospitality, as famous as the state's mountain peaks, deluged members of the Royal Air Force band today, as residents of Denver and Lowry paid tribute to the professional workmanship of the officers and enlisted men from Great Britain.
Lowry Field officers, enlisted men and their guests packed Theater No.2 last night for two hour-long concerts, and found GI superlatives inadequate to describe the distinguished performances by Wing Commander R. P. O'Donnell and his 108 piece group. Audiences at South high school Thursday morning were equally enthusiastic.
Today's program for the visitors opened with a dance this morning in Service club No.1. Through arrangements with J. E. Huchingson, president of Colorado Woman's college, over 100 hostesses from the college were present for dancing with the musicians. Lowry's 515th band furnished the music.
This afternoon the RAF band plays a 30 minute concert for the workers of the Denver Modification Center at 2:30 and tonight Denver's leading war bond workers will hear a 90 minute program in the East high school auditorium. Philip K. Alexander, Andrew Sutherland and Dewey Smith of the war finance office in Denver are coordinating all arrangements for the appearances of the RAF in the city.
Following tonight's concert at East high school the band members will be guests of the NCO mess at a buffet supper. Twenty-five noncom club members will serve as hosts. Thursday afternoon, Lowry officers complimented the commissioned personnel of the band at an informal party in the Officer's club.
The arrival of the RAF band Wednesday evening at the Denver Union Station was a scene of gaiety as leading civilian and military officials of the Denver area were among the greeters. Representing the city of Denver was Robert E. Harvey, civilian-military coordinator, Capt. George T. Simpson, acting Public Relations officer, and Capt. Roy T. Twombly, band training officer, were present for AAFWTTC Headquarters. In addition Cyril Ward, acting British Consul in Denver; Maj. Louis K. Block, officer in charge of the RAF visit to Lowry Field, and Maj. Frank L. Assalena and Master Sgt. William P. DesMarias, special liasion committee members for the post, were on hand to welcome Commander O'Donnell and his band.
Thursday afternoon the band was taken on an escorted tour of Denver and vicinity as part of the entertainment organized by Lowry Field officials. A caravan of 20 Red Cross vehicles, under the direction of Capt. Frances Goodyear of the Denver Red Cross Motor Corps, provided transportation for the trip.
During their stay on the post the band members are being quartered and fed in the Brick Barracks. The band leaves Saturday noon for Sioux Falls, S. D., where they will give a series of concerts for army personnel at the air base there.
Three Concerts In Second Area
One of the outstanding musical organizations ever to appear at Scott Field will perform at this base tomorrow and Saturday when the Royal Air Force Band, 105 pieces in all, gives three concerts at Theater No.2 in the second area.
The first performance, scheduled at 6:45 PM, will be for enlisted personnel. Immediately following, the distinguished visitors will give a concert for officers and their guests, at 8:05 PM. The finale is billed on Saturday at 1 PM, this for enlisted personnel also. Admission to the concert will be by ticket only, without charge. Tickets for the enlisted men's concerts are available at all service clubs. Tickets for the officer performance are at officer's club.
The British musicians are scheduled to arrive at Union Station in St. Louis Friday morning. They will immediately proceed to Scott Field, breakfast at general mess in the first area, and rest until their 6:45 concert. The RAF Band is also scheduled for concerts in Belleville and St. Louis.
On Saturday, at 8:30 PM, a performance will be held at Belleville Township high school. On Sunday, at 8:15 PM, the world-famous... All performance will be free of charge.
Conductor of the band is Wing Commander R. P. O'Donnell, M. V. O., who directs without a baton. He is organization director of music for the Royal Air Force, and has served more than 40 years in British musical units. His assistant is 28-years-old Pilot Officer John Hollingsworth, the youngest British conductor to have directed the London Symphony, London Philharmonic and National Symphony orchestra.
Expected to be included in the concert scheduled at Scott Field are Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor; Suite, Casse-Noisette by Tschaikowsky; Praeludium e Allegro by Pagnani-Kreisler; Elegy and Waltz from String Serenade by Tschaikowsky, and Overture Zampa by Herold.
The RAF Band will be guest of Scott Field until Monday morning when it departs for its next concert at Indianapolis, Ind., continuing a tour which began on Dec. 18, 1944. While here, the British musicians will be quartered in the first area, barracks 952 and 953. They will mess at Squadron A.
Appearance of the RAF Band marks the first time in American history that a foreign musical organization has ever toured the United States as an official guest of the government. Under the arrangements of the reciprocal agreement between the two great Allied air forces, the AAF Band is now on a similar tour of Britain, having opened at Albert Hall, London, on Dec. 18, the same day the RAF Band commenced its U. S. tour at Constitution Hall, Washington, D. C.
The Central Band of the Royal Air Force appearing today and tomorrow at Scott Field consists of 105 musicians allowing for a full military band and a sizable symphony orchestra which performes together, and separately. Numbered among them are many of Britain's finest musicians.
At home in England the functions of these two units of the Royal Air Force are varied. The Military Band, which numbers 70 men- more than a third of whom also play in the symphony orchestra- was formed in 1929 and is the regular band of the RAF. The symphony orchestra came into being at the outbreak of the present war on the job has been to bring concerts of symphony music to the airdromes of the RAF bomber fighter and coastal commands. The RAF symphony orchestra has probably played to many former Scottsmen in Europe. It has already toured with the U. S. Army there and until just before leaving on its tour of this country was broadcasting regularly over the American Forces Network.