Eric Greenleaf  An ex Royal Marine was aboard the Cumberland from 1939/42

January 12, 2013

My name is Dave.

I’m hoping for info/memories for a great pal of mine, Eric Greenleaf.

An ex Royal Marine Bandsman (RMBX 801 )  who served from 1920/1960. 

He was aboard the Cumberland from 1939/42  and helped man the gunning station....   Sports 11 Gongs too.

Eric is 92 now and still very active. 

Its a great pleasure of mine to use the internet to bring back memories for a Great Man.

Any help would be much appreciated.

Dave  McDonald


Some detail for you about Eric.

Oz trip's a high note for 89 year old former marine Eric Trusted article source icon WednesdayAugust 112010
Profile image for This is Devon

This is Devon

LIKE any young man Eric Greenleaf always dreamed of playing
at Wembley

And in the 1950s he had his chancealthough he was playing
clarinet rather
than football.

    ​<P>AUSTRALIA-BOUND: Eric Greenleafalso
picturedleftplaying in front of
the Queen. Next month Eric is set to fly to Australiato
visit another former
Royal Marines Band musician and friend</P>

    AUSTRALIA-BOUND: Eric Greenleafalso
picturedleftplaying in front of the
Queen. Next month Eric is set to fly to Australiato visit
another former
Royal Marines Band musician and friend


The Barbican-born musician spent much of his 26 years in
the Royal Marines
performing with Her Majesty's Royal Marines Band.

He helped defeat the German forces during World War Two
manning naval guns
and later travelled the world performing for royaltyheads
of state and other
Main image for Ideal Cleaners
Join the Ideal Cleaners Advantage Club today and save
money on...

Ideal Cleaners
View details

And next month the 89-year-old is set to fly to Australia
to visit another
former Royal Marines Band musician and friend having been
awarded £3700 from
the Big Lottery Fund's Heroes Return 2 scheme.

But the proud multi-instrumentalist is quick to point out
that his career
wasn't all about the music.

"I get annoyed with people saying that we simply played
music" said Eric who
lives on the Barbican.

"The reality was very different. Back then we were placed
in the
transmitting stations in the depths of ships controlling
the eight-inch guns

"I served on HMS CumberlandHMS Newfoundland and HMS
Newcastle and helped
patrol and protect the Russian convoys."

Eric joined up in 1935 and attended the Royal Naval School
of Music in Kent.

The Royal Marines Band wasn't his first choice but he
admits he was 'talked
into it' by a Sergeant Major friend.

"My mother wanted me to be a painter and decorator" Eric
said with a smile.

"I decided I wanted to join the boys. When I joined up I
couldn't play any

"I was posted to the School of Music for nearly four years
[where The Royal
Marines Band was based at that time] and I walked out able
to play the
clarinet and viola.

"I later taught myself the guitar and saxophone.

"They were wonderful days and there were so many highlights.

"We played at the 1948 Olympics in Britain and cup finals
at Wembley. We
played to heads of state and members of the Royal Family
all over the world.

"It was a dream for us."

Eric admits there were 'dark times' during his career —
not least when his
26-year-old brotherHowardwas killed while serving on HMS
Courageous within
days of the outbreak of war in 1939.

The young marine was one of 518 men who died when the
warship was torpedoed
during an anti-submarine patrol off the coast of Ireland
on September 17.

HMS Courageous was the first British warship to be lost in
World War Two.

After the war Eric continued to travel the world performing.

One of those concert venues was in SydneyAustraliawhere he
is visiting for
three weeks next month.

Eric is one of 17 people across the South West to receive
awards from the
Heroes Return 2 scheme.

He will be travelling with his friend and former Royal
Navy sailor David

"I've been to Australia six times in my life" Eric added.

"My last trip was about five years ago. It's a long way to
go but it'll be
worth it to see my friend and talk about the old days."



back to letters index


This site was created as a resource for educational use and the promotion of historical awareness. All rights of publicity of the individuals named herein are expressly reserved, and, should be respected consistent with the reverence in which this memorial site was established.

Copyright© 1984/2014 Mackenzie J. Gregory All rights reserved