By Neha Bhutani, BBA’13, MBA’15
I‘ve been a member of the Church Lads’ Brigade (CLB) band for four years, and it was about three years ago the idea for the Tour of Honour began to take shape. The idea was to be in Beaumont-Hamel for the 100th anniversary, to play at the ceremony on July 1 and to visit all of the Caribou monuments in Europe and play at those sites, as well.
It’s been an incredible journey. Everyone in the band was extensively involved in fundraising, and combined with our personal contributions, we made the trip a reality.
Looking back, it’s difficult to put the experience into words. Surreal is the only way I can describe being at Beaumont-Hamel this past July 1. I recall the feeling of coming in and out of moments of being there, realizing where we were standing and what we were looking at.
That day, after the official ceremony had ended, we continued to play a few hymns and other pieces while people were laying wreaths. One of those hymns was God Be With You Till We Meet Again. Our bandmaster, Capt. Albertine Bethel, told us that the band would play this song as soldiers were boarding the ships, getting ready to leave St. John’s as they went off to war. She said, “Play it for the boys, they haven’t heard it in a while.” It was quite an emotional moment.
Of course, the Regimental band only represents a small fraction of the CLB. In 1914 when the call for volunteers went out, the CLB membership responded without delay.
A big part of this trip was about education, so that we could educate ourselves and others could learn about our history. Of course, the Regimental band only represents a small fraction of the CLB. In 1914 when the call for volunteers went out, the CLB membership responded without delay. In fact, it was the CLB building in St. John’s that served as the Regimental headquarters. So everyone who served with the Newfoundland Regiment, CLB member or not, would have passed under the stone arches that still stand in front of the building on Harvey Road.
Everyone always says we’re a family, a band family, the CLB family . . . but it’s even stronger now. I think after this experience we all appreciate things a little differently. We appreciate each other, the organization and what we’re doing that much more.
Neha Bhutani plays the euphonium in the CLB band. She works in project administration with the Core Science Facility Project Management Office at Memorial University.