During these somewhat strange times where the business has been ‘less than muted’, I have been actively engaged in researching my father’s army service during WW2.
Seth Farrington (born 2nd August 1915 died 24th April 1970), Army Number 3458346 enlisted at Rochdale aged 24 on the July 1st 1940 joining the Lancashire Fusiliers and following initial training he served with the 11th Battalion.
Like many others, he very rarely spoke about his service life and these recollections were invariably his musical exploits with the Regimental Band, not entirely dissimilar to the many ‘Band Tours’ I and so many of my friends have experienced. Of course, this research has shown that his service life was nothing like that.
On the 11th July 1941, the 11th Battalion sailed for an unknown destination, firstly to Gibraltar where they transferred to the Cruiser HMS Edinburgh to be taken to Malta. They docked in Valetta some two weeks later and took their place in defending the island until the 21st May 1944 when the Battalion disembarked at Naples to begin fighting the Germans in Italy. From there they went on to Palestine.
Dad was a competent trombonist and I always, wrongly, thought that he joined the army as a musician. I have now recovered from the loft two musical instruments, his Hawkes and Son ‘The Empire” trombone and a Boosey & Hawkes “Aeroform” Regent Bb/A trumpet. This was given to me as a youngster by a family friend and former army colleague I always knew as ‘Uncle Frank’ Buckley.
Both instruments have now been beautifully restored by a colleague, Keith Preston, whose father, coincidentally, also served in the same battalion as dad at that time. These were purchased from a music shop in Valetta Malta, now closed, when the 11th Battalion was posted there and are stamped ‘P Carabott Sole Agent Malta’. From the serial numbers, they were second hand when purchased.
The band photographs were found on display by my brother when he visited the National War Museum in Valetta some years ago and both show dad and ‘Uncle Frank’ with the instruments.
The photograph of the instruments with the damaged trombone case recalls one of dad’s much-repeated stories when he claimed they were pushing a handcart bearing all the instruments across the airfield near Birkirkara. They were forced to abandon them as three Stuka dive bombers attacked the landing strip and when they returned for the instruments his precious trombone was embedded in the handcart wheel!
The research continues and many thanks to Geoff Pycroft, Researcher and Archivist for the Lancashire Fusiliers web site, Sgt Dick Tracey at the Band of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, Lt Col David Barringer MBE, Principal Director of Music at the British Army, Keith Preston for his work and Catherine and Phyl for the photographs.
Any contributions, advice or corrections are welcome and should you read this far, many thanks for your interest.
Finally, a belated happy ‘Fathers Day’ and ‘Armed Forces Day’ dad, albeit I think of you far more often. Please have a listen here to the Regimental Quick March of the Lancashire Fusiliers.
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