RAF Band Concert in Dunkirk, 4 Oct 1918

The Royal Air Force was formed on 1 Apr 1918. On 15 Apr Walford Davies was granted a temporary commission as Major to become the RAF’s first Organising Director of Music. In Molly Evans‘s Scrapbook there is a programme for a concert given by the RAF Band at the Casino in Malo-les-Bains, Dunkirk on 4 Oct 1918.

The opening number at the concert was the RAF March Past composed by Walford Davies. The march became the official march for the Royal Air Force.

Programme for the RAF Band concert at the Casino, Malo-les-Bains, Dunkirk, 4 Oct 1918

Programme for the RAF Band concert at the Casino, Malo-les-Bains, Dunkirk, 4 Oct 1918

Molly Evans and her friend Elizabeth Hardy, both VAD nurses at the Queen Alexandra Hospital run by the Friends’ Ambulance Unit, were at the concert. They were lucky to fit it between early morning and night duties.

4 October 1918
Friday

…Ambulance 3:30 to Casino. Lovely concert. RAF Military band. Conductor. Tea. Talk with officers. Walk home with Hardy. Picturesque evening…

Possibly the conductor was Walford Davies. A composer and performing musician, he dedicated himself during the war to teaching soldiers to sing and organising concerts for the troops in France. He established the RAF School of Music and two RAF bands and toured the military camps.

The officers would be mainly from No 5 (Operations) Group, RAF. In Mar 1918 the Queen Alexandra Hospital moved out of Dunkirk to the grounds of the Château de Petite Synthe near the Coudekerque Aerodrome. As a nurse Molly cared for a number of injured airmen. Below is an aerial photo which she kept in her Scrapbook next to the programme and was probably a souvenir received from one of the officers at this event.

RAF Aerial Photo, France, 1918

RAF Aerial Photo, France, 1918