The New Squadronaires performing alongside the R.A.F. Recruitment campaign at the Cenotaph in Blackpool 2002.

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The New Squadronaires Orchestra...

The New Squadronaires Orchestra...

Within a few months of the outbreak of World War 2 many of the leading British musicians found themselves together as members of service bands. The most famous of these was the RAF No 1 Dance Band - later known as the Squadronaires. Of the orchestra's first broadcasts in January 1941, one critic in the Melody Maker was to write 'Any of you lucky enough to hear this airing will, I am sure, agree ...... that this is the greatest dance band performance that has ever been broadcast this side of the Atlantic'.

The band was to receive many similar accolades throughout it's existence. The orchestra name 'Squadronaires' was never officially adopted by the RAF during WW2, and immediately following demobilisation, the orchestra began to perform as a civilian orchestra, eventually under the leadership of pianist Ronnie Aldrich.

The Squadronaires then remained together under Ronnie Aldrich until 1964 when, with the advent of the new music, the dance and swing orchestras became unpopular with the masses.

The original orchestra's first concert was given in Blackpool – the singer on that occasion, was the wife of saxophonist Harry Lewis – her name was Vera Lynn ! Strangely enough, the New

Squadronaires Orchestra was to return to Blackpool in 2001 and 2002, appearing weekly at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

And Then?...

Some years later,  the style of Big Band music began to regain popularity. The (new) Squadronaires Orchestra was reformed under the leadership of Saxophonist Harry Bence and worked as a modern style band. Following the death of Harry Bence in 1997 the orchestra came under the leadership of Trumpet player Greg Francis and the orchestra has continued to tour annually, keeping alive the memory of one of the very best British orchestras. The orchestra now features ex–Syd Lawrence vocalist Mark Porter, and also quite often, it's original 'Blackpool Tower' vocalist Lynn Kennedy.

Most importantly, they are now dressed in authentic RAF uniform. The band desks are motived with the RAF roundel and are in red white and blue, and the stage backdrop is a large RAF ensign flag.

If you're looking for pure and professional British nostalgia - and tunes people know, this is the band for you !