Royal Air Force Squadronaires
Leader: Sergeant Kevin Miles
The Royal Air Force Squadronaires is one of the United Kingdom’s finest big bands, with a world wide reputation for musical excellence. The origins of the Squadronaires can be traced back to 1939 when many of London’s professional musicians were recruited into the Central Band of the Royal Air Force. Many of these musicians had previously been jazz and dance band performers and it was suggested that they form what was to become the Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra, later known as the ‘Squadronaires’.
The big band gained a reputation for versatility and flair, helped by such iconic band members as the trombonist George Chisholm and vocalist Jimmy Miller. They soon developed a distinctive style that rivalled many American bands. Throughout the war years they were regularly voted ‘Best British Dance Band’ and in one memorable review that appeared in The Melody Maker they were described as having given ‘the greatest dance band performance that has ever been broadcast this side of the Atlantic.’
Following D-Day the ‘Squads’ toured France, Belgium and the Netherlands but were stopped in their tracks at the German border. They were then forced to make a tactical withdrawal as General Von Runstedt’s counter-offensive forced the Allies back towards Paris.
This tradition of musical expertise lives on with today’s Squadronaires. Most recently the Squads have reached the top ten in the UK’s album chart with their new CD ‘In the Mood’, recorded for the record label Decca. Publicity for this album has included live TV and radio appearances, most notably on the ‘Alan Titchmarsh Show’ and ITV’s ‘This Morning’. The Band returned to the world famous ‘Ronnie Scott’s’ Jazz Club to celebrate the album release, and continue to be the only military ensemble to perform there. Recent appearances have also included the Royal British Legion’s Festival of Remembrance with Will Young and Russell Watson, and featuring at jazz festivals in Edinburgh, Goring and Glasgow and at the International Edinburgh and Windsor Tattoos. The Band has also been privileged to perform within the grounds and walls of Buckingham Palace, regularly performing at State Events and Garden Parties.
As with all members of the Royal Air Force, RAF Music Services’ personnel are required to support British Forces on operations overseas. Musicians have been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and The Falkland Islands. Roles have included force protection, guarding installations, driving, liaison officers and supporting helicopter and air transportation squadrons.
Under the direction of its current leader, Sergeant Kevin Miles, the Band has assembled a repertoire that reflects its style and versatility, from original dance band classics to the latest big band classics.