Dr Albert Williams

On the occasion of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1887, the Queen had Dan Godfrey gazetted as a Lieutenant, the first bandmaster in the British army to be commissioned, albeit with an honorary title. The following decade Dan Godfrey finally retired and was replaced by Mr Albert Williams of the Royal Marine Artillery Band. Although very much a product of the Army - having joined as a boy knowing virtually nothing about music - Mr Williams had already passed the examination of Bachelor of Music at Oxford University and was later awarded a Doctorate of Music. On this occasion, in 1906, the entire Grenadier Guards Band travelled to Oxford at their own expense to witness the ceremony of the conferring of the degree, and to hear the Vice-Chancellor comment, 'I understand that you are a pioneer in the army in regard to the degree of Doctor of Music. I hope it will bear the fruit it deserves.'

In 1904 the Band once more visited the United States, this time extending the tour to include Canada. In 1919 the Band was in Canada again for the Canadian National Exhibition, where a fellow visitor was His Royal Highness, the Prince of Wales.

After 44 years in the service, Dr Williams retired in 1921 in the rank of Captain. The King received him in audience and conferred upon him the honour of the Royal Victorian Order. In 1922 the Worshipful Company of Musicians made a presentation at which Sir Dan Godfrey, son of the previous incumbent and conductor of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, offered high praise: 'Dr Williams was a musician of such culture as had never before occupied the position of Director of Music of the British Army.'

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