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Encyclopedia > Kenneth Alford

Kenneth Joseph Alford was a composer, best known for his marches, of which the most famous is Colonel Bogey. He is known as "The British March King".

Alford was really Fredrick Joseph Ricketts (February 21, 1881 - May 15, 1945), who joined the Royal Irish Regiment as a musician in 1895 and was commissioned into the Royal Marines as a Director of Music in 1927. He retired in 1944 with the rank of Major.

Soldiers then were not supposed to have outside interests, hence the pseudonym. Kenneth was his eldest son's name, and Alford was his mother's maiden name.

In addition to his marches, Ricketts wrote the music to several popular Christian hymns, including "Come, Ye Thankful People, Come ("Harvest Home")".

List of marches

  • The Thin Red Line (1908) - named after his regiment's nickname, acquired in the Crimean War, when the "thin red line" of British soldiers held back the Russian advance.
  • Holyrood (1912) - presumably named after Holyrood House, in Edinburgh
  • The Vedette (1912) - A vedette is a mounted sentry, a term probably familiar to Ricketts from his time in India but unfamiliar today.
  • Colonel Bogey (1914) - Apparently named after a real person, a member at the golf course where Ricketts played
  • The Great Little Army (1916) - the British Expeditionary Force in France in the First World War
  • On the Quarter Deck (1917)
  • The Middy (1917) - Both this and the previous march were possibly written to commemorate the Battle of Jutland
  • The Voice of the Guns (1917)
  • The Vanished Army (1919) - dedicated to the memory of the first 100,000 soldiers to make the ultimate sacrifice.
  • The Mad Major (1921) - Major Graham Seton-Hutchinson was the Mad Major, who's war exploits had won him the Military Cross and a DSO.
  • Cavalry of the Clouds (1923) - A salute to the new Royal Air Force
  • Dunedin (1928) - named for the Dunedin Exhibition in New Zealand in 1925/26
  • Old Panama (1929) - Ricketts returned from Dunedin via the Panama Canal
  • HM Jollies (1929) - "HM Jollies" is a nickname for the Royal Marines, which Ricketts had just transferred to.
  • The Standard of St George (1930) - Inspired by watching The Trooping of the Colour at Horseguards Parade.
  • By Land and Sea (19??) - written by order of the Adjutant General to provide a ceremonial march
  • Army of the Nile (1941) - Dedicated to General Wavell for halting the Axis advance in Egypt
  • Eagle Squadron (1942) - The Eagle Squadron was composed of American servicemen in the RAF before America joined in the war. It then transferred to the USAAF.
  • Lillibullero (1942) - An arrangement of a traditional army marching song
  • A Life on the Ocean Wave (1944) - An arrangement of Henry Russel's ballad of the same name

External links and references



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