Marine musicians face one of their toughest challenges of all time

REHEARSAL Composer Simon Dobson listens to the Royal Marines Band Portsmouth rehearsing under the guidance of conductor Lt Col Nick Grace, while the silent film plays in the background   '''''        'Picture: Nicola Harper
REHEARSAL Composer Simon Dobson listens to the Royal Marines Band Portsmouth rehearsing under the guidance of conductor Lt Col Nick Grace, while the silent film plays in the background ''''' 'Picture: Nicola Harper

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ONE hundred years ago, 24 Royal Marine musicians lost their lives at sea in Britain’s first naval defeat in more than a century.

And tonight, another 24 musicians will provide a live soundtrack at the premiere of a restored silent movie telling the story of their forerunners.

Members of the Royal Marines Band Portsmouth will travel to London to perform at the screening of The Battles of Coronel and the Falklands.

Lieutenant Colonel Nick Grace, the Royal Marines’ principal director of music will conduct the band.

He told The News: ‘Never before has a Royal Marine band played for a whole film before. It’s a real challenge.

‘For me the most poignant aspect is that 24 Royal Marine musicians of the modern day are performing the film score.

‘There is no greater way for us to remember them. The marines have really connected with it.’

The 87-year-old documentary has been painstakingly restored by film historians to mark the centenary of the battles celebrated on celluloid.

It depicts Royal Navy tragedy then triumph as one British squadron of ships was mauled by the Germans in November 1914 – at Coronel in the Pacific – before a much more powerful fleet was dispatched to avenge the defeat, catching up with the enemy force off the Falklands a month later and annihilating it.

Simon Dobson is the composer behind the music the marines will be performing.

He said: ‘They sound absolutely amazing.

‘I have not done anything like this before and I can’t wait to hear it at the opening night.

‘The idea of writing the score for 24 musicians was too perfect. It had to happen.’