RN Medals to Musicians, Bandsmen & Bandmasters
Henry Eaves

Born 23 June 1874 in St Georges, London he entered the Royal Navy as a Band Boy (Cornet) 27
May 1890 on board HMS Impregnable. His trade was shown as ‘musician.’ Rated Bandsman on
attaining 18 yrs of age he served on HMS Boscowen, then HMS Resolution. Whilst serving on
Resolution he was awarded the Royal Humane Society’s Testimonial 9 July 1896. however I have
no details concerning this award. Next drafted to HMS Centurion, Grafton & again to Centurion for
4 years including the China 1900 campaign. Returning to UK he gave his lady friend quite a
Christmas present on 25 Dec ’01 – he married her! He then served on HMS Agincourt, being
promoted to Band Cpl on 8 May ’02; then Northampton & Ariadne. On 29 Aug 1904 he
transferred to the newly formed Royal Marine Band Service .

He next served on HMS Berwick, being promoted to Band Sergt on 23 March ’05, & Bandmaster
2nd class (WOII) on 7 Dec ’05. His next embarkation was to HMS Commonwealth on 20 May ’09.
Whilst serving as Bandmaster on Commonwealth he was awarded his Naval LS medal on 19 Sept ’
07, & was promoted to Bandmaster 1st class (WOI) on 20 May ‘09.
He then served at the RM School of Music, then embarks on HMS Minotaur Jan’10 for a two yr
commission. Whilst serving in Minotaur he was passed for “Fire Control duties” in Jan ’10. Upon
return to UK again to the RM School of Music where he pensions on 22 June 1913. He had earned
to that time 5 GCB’s. He intended to take up the position of Bandmaster of the Training Ship
Exmouth during retirement.

His time ashore was brief tho for he was recalled on 2 Aug 1914 for WWI & served at the RM
School of Music until being embarked as Bandmaster on board HMS Dublin on 19 Sep ’16. He
remained on her for the duration of the war & returned to the School of Music for demobilization
on 3 Apl ’19.

Henry Eaves conduct was excellent during his career. There are only two negative entries from BM
Eave’s conduct record –

First entry is 17 Aug ’05 (HMS Berwick) - “provoking a quarrel with Musician Bettison” -

Next – 20 May ’10 (HMS Minotaur) – “leaving the ship without permission & remaining absent for
16 hours” – 14 days stoppage of leave.
This one is interesting to me as it is signed by Minotaur’s Captain George Cayley RN.
I have this officer’s medals! He was an HMS Victoria survivor & ended up as a Rear Admiral
commanding the Harwich flotilla during WWI.

The BWM & VM that I have illustrated with his China and Long Service medal is an erased set I
have had for years & am using as fillers. I would like to find his pair to complete the group. His pair
would be named:

Bandmaster Eaves is in the centre wearing is China & LS medals, seated beside the detachment

This photo was taken in Portland in 1909, & is in the collection of the RM Museum in Southsea, Hants.

The instrumentation of his Band,or rather Orchestra, as it contains many string instruments, is:
7 violin/viola, 1 cello, 1 String bass, 1 Piccolo, 1 Clarinet, 1 Horn, 1 Cornet, 1 Euphonium, 1  Drummer.
This instrumentation would have been
typical of Bands carried on board
Victorian Battleships & Cruisers Bands
in that pre WWI time period. Normally a
capital ship's band would have
consisted of between 12 - 20
Bandsmen. Having string instrument
players in Ship's Bands at that time was
quite normal as bands & orchestras in
those days were very versatile, with
instrumentalists usually being able to
play well on more than 1 instrument.

Eaves' main Instrument was Cornet,
but he also played Violin, & no doubt
other instruments as well.  It was
essential that Naval Bands be able to
perform well as a marching ensemble,
as a seated ensemble, both on board &
ashore, in a formal concert setting, for
mess dinner functions, as a dance
orchestra, as a small limited
instrumentation ensemble, or as a
shore party band. Many of the players
would have been fine performers &
would have had no problem making a
living as musicians ashore.
The establishment of the RNSM & the formationof the RM Band.
The establishment of the Royal Naval School of Music (RNSM) & the formation of the RM Band
Service took place in 1903. On 22 July Bandsmen from HMS Impregnable & other Training ships
marched into Eastney barracks to play at the opening ceremony & became the founder members
of the RM Band Service, & the first band of the RNSM.  The RM Band Service was created for the
sole purpose of providing musical support for the RN.

Naval Band boys transferred from the training ships to the RM Band Service, & Musicians &
Bandsmen serving in the RN were given the option, on their ship's paying off, of remaining on
their existing terms of service or joining the new organization.  In July '04 the first trained
musicians from the RNSM were drafted to Ship's Bands.  Band Cpl Eaves transferred to the RM
Band service in Aug '04. By late '04 the strength of the RM Band Service numbered over 700 &
had outgrown the facilities at Eastney. So this necessitated the transfer of musicians & new
entrants to the Port Divisions & them being allocated Divisonal Service numbers.

The Band Boys continued to be trained at Eastney.  However, by '09 the Bandsmen that had
been sent out to the Port Divisions were transferred back to HQ at Eastney, thus losing their
Divisonal numbers & reverting to their original RMB numbers. Thus we could see medals within an
RM Bandsman's medal group impressed with two service numbers, & this is the case with Eave's
LS & BWM/VM pr.