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Tambourine returned to Royal Marines Band service 99 years on

22 July 2016
A tambourine borrowed by a Royal Marines bandsman for his daughter’s May Day celebrations in 1917 has been returned to its rightful home.

Private George Fly lent the instrument to five-year-old Edna a year after surviving the Battle of Jutland.

Her daughter Marian Le May today (July 21) handed it back to the Royal Marines School of Music in Portsmouth where it will go on display.

The story goes that George gave Edna the tambourine to use while dancing round the maypole at St Vincent’s Royal Marines School at Gosport where she was a pupil.

The tambourine has really become part of our family history – a real talking point down the years.

Mrs Le May

She apparently kept it for school May Day celebrations in subsequent years and it has remained in the family ever since. Edna died in 2002 when the tambourine was handed down to her daughter.

Mrs Le May, 74, of Drayton, said: “The tambourine has really become part of our family history – a real talking point down the years.

“We played with it as kids when it had lovely red, white and blue ribbons but those have disappeared over time. My mum always seemed to have it in a prominent place – it was never hidden away or forgotten about. But my grandchildren don’t want it – they have plenty of other things to play with, so we spoke to the Royal Marines Band Service and they were pleased to have it and I am delighted that it is going on permanent display.”

George joined the Royal Marines Light Infantry Divisional Band in Portsmouth in 1894. In 1915 he was drafted to the light cruiser HMS Castor which took part in the Battle of Jutland. Sixteen sailors were killed including a bandsman.

He was demobilised in February 1919 and died in 1934 aged 58.

The tambourine will be displayed at one of the School of Music’s percussion suites in full view of present-day trainee musicians.

James Pinney, marketing manager at the school, said: “We are very thankful to Mrs Le May for presenting the tambourine to us. It will be proudly displayed in a prominent position where trainee musicians can see it and read about one of their brave predecessors.”

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