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March 2020 - Jack Colley

My Boy Willie (Quick March of the Royal Tank Regiment)

At the beginning of the Second World War my father joined up. My mother let the house out and took me round the country, wherever he was posted. He was commissioned into the 9th Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment who were stationed at Worthing and I was dreadfully spoiled by the other officers who probably missed their own children.


The words of this song are:-


It wasn’t the Yanks that won the war, it was my boy Willie.

It wasn’t the Yanks that won the war, it was my boy Willie.

It wasn’t the Yanks who won the war.

Because the tanks were there before,

It wasn’t the Yanks that won the war, it was my boy Willie.


I sang it, standing on the table in the Officer’s mess, my first public performance.




Double Violin Concerto - J.S. Bach

I was taught the violin from the age of eight although I was never a highflier. My father also played, and we would put on a record of Igor and David Oistrakh and try to play the slow movement with them.


The only time I have heard it played live was when Anne and I went to a concert in the Chapel of Mirrors, part of the Clementinum in Prague.




Adagio (String Quintet in C Major) - Schubert

In the 1950s I was a trainee engineer living in digs in Northampton. In the drawing office there were several music enthusiasts and we used to go to concerts in the area. St Matthew’s church had regular chamber music concerts given by a quartet who were all members of one of the London orchestras. In one concert they played the Mozart Clarinet quintet in the first half and the Schubert in the second half. I was bowled over.




The Trees They Go Grow High - Joan Baez

In 1967 my family and I moved to Rochester where I was to convert a redundant railway bridge over the Medway into a new road bridge. We bought a house in St Margaret’s parish, quite close to the Cathedral and the Castle. Shortly after our arrival the vicar’s wife came to call to welcome us into the City. I was at work but my wife, Gill, gave her a cup of tea and chatted. Mrs Butler saw my guitar and asked who played. Gill said that I did and that she sang, which was true in the privacy of our own home. Mrs Butler said, “We are having a small get-together, would you come and sing for us?” and Gill accepted!


The get-together turned out to be the Harvest Supper, for two hundred guests, held in the Corn Exchange. We had never performed in public; we had never used microphones, we couldn’t rehearse in the hall because it was part of the Library, the two giant speakers were in the far corners of the hall and the sound came back to us with a half second delay.

We stumbled through our performance, but the audience was very kind, and we were introduced in one go to all “the great and the good” in Rochester.


This was one of our songs.




I Love My Love - Words by Charles Mackay, music by Sylvia Walton

In 1970 my work brought us to Bristol, and we bought a house in Winterbourne. In due course our three children attended the Ridings High School where Sylvia Walton was the new Head of Music. To make her mark, Sylvia put on a performance of Messiah with the school choir and orchestra, supplemented by parents and teachers. The event was a success and the parent’s section, including Anne and me, morphed into a small choir, The Ridings Singers, which continued to sing together for the next thirty years.


When Anne and I were married in 2002 we held our wedding reception in the orangery at Goldney House, with both the Ridings Singers and BCC providing the entertainment.

Sylvia wrote this piece for the occasion and this is the only public performance.


Apologies for the quality of the sound, it has undergone several transfers between different media.




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