The origins of a concert band within the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) stem from its foundation in 1898, although photographic evidence exists that the antecedent Medical Staff Corps had a band. On 1 January 1939, the unofficial RAMC Band was taken over by the Army Council and became publicly funded after many years of subscription from the officers of the Corps. The band was upgraded in status to a minor staff band in 1947 and continued to serve the Corps until its disbandment in April 1984 after 45 years’ official service.
It would have been easy for the Army Medical Services (AMS) to have relied on other Corps for musical support following the disbandment of the RAMC Staff Band but, a persevering decision was made to form a Territorial Army (now know as the Army Reserve) Band. The venue chosen to host the new band was the Duke of York’s HQ in Chelsea, operating as a detachment of 257 (Southern) General Hospital. It was in close proximity to the Royal Army Medical College, Millbank where the annual round of functions required musical support from the fledging band.
After two years of hard work raising the Band from scratch and developing standards, authority was given by the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller Hall for an official establishment from 1 April 1986. At its first Kneller Hall Inspection in May 1991 the Band was awarded the grading of ‘Very Good’.
Following the return of a Labour Government in 1997, their Strategic Defence Review was published on 8 July 1998. Sadly nine out of the twenty four established Army Reserve Bands were to be disbanded by 31 July 1999. Geography appeared to be the deciding factor on which bands were kept – one per military district except for London where two bands were retained. Disappointingly the AMS Band was listed to be cut despite a huge infusion of posts into the Defence Medical Services. History was to repeat itself for the AMS as it decided to retain its own dedicated musical support with sponsorship from 2nd Medical Brigade, every Army Reserve Hospital taking members onto their respective strength.
Having operated ‘out of the loop’ for nine years; the Band became officially recognised once more in 2008, the Army Reserves Centennial Year and became a sub-
The AMS Band continues to flourish and currently has a total of 40 members some of which have recently travelled to South Caucuses, Germany, Gibraltar and Cyprus. Further information about the band can be found at www.army.mod.uk/amstaband.