Organ (Field), Portable, Small


War Hero
Book Reviewer
I mentioned the Organ, Portable, Small to a fellow (but ex-RM) dinosaur yesterday and he came back with an Organ (Field), Portable, Small which he said was part of the kit of a Commando and was back-packed by the Padre's Yeoman. Are these still around? (the organs and the P's Yeomen). ... or was he pulling my leg ..
They are still widely used in Indian Traditional music, though I have never seen one in use in anger in the RN, mainly because post Dartmouth I didn't go to church
We had an organ, portable (small) on RESO's first commision. The Jimmy used to provide pedal power, then got bored with it and ordered the Wreckers to rig up some sort of connection through the EBS system to save his legs. This provided us with the never to be forgotten sight of the organ becoming highly portable at the end of the air line, and getting smaller as it bounced around the dining hall off bulkheads and deckhead. Just wish I could remember how the 126 was worded. One of those moments which still reduces me to fits of hysterical laughter.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
It was the RM Padre's Yeoman 'with the organ on his back' that intrigued me. Long ago HMS Newfoundland had an OCRM who remarked one day that he put in for a commission during the war because he was fed up with humping the whitewashed rocks for the officers' mess garden around in his back pack.
The 'Organ, Portable, Small' always made for some interesting seaboat transfers in awkward weather. However, this amusing excerpt comes from the webpage of David Wakefield, the President of the Organ Club:

David Wakefield said:
...Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth was, perhaps surprisingly, the next stage in my musical education. The College chapel had a fine 3 manual organ by Hele and Company of Saltash, boldly voiced to accompany 200 young men singing at the tops of their voices, and on which I had my first organ lessons. Sadly, warships tend not to be equipped with pipe organs (a regrettable omission on the part of the MOD) and we had to make do with a standard issue “organ, portable, small†as it was designated in the Stores Manual. This was a 4 octave harmonium which collapsed into a small rectangular box; in playing mode the hinged legs were held in place by a bracing spar, but “collapsible†was the operative word, as it frequently did in rough weather and the hapless organist would find the organ on his lap during the lusty singing of “Eternal Fatherâ€. Apart from these outings, my organ playing ceased save for the occasional chance to play at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich and the Royal Hospital School, Holbrook.

My naval career encompassed service in frigates, destroyers, submarines and assault ships, including a year as a Field Gun Officer at the Royal Tournament, 2 years as the senior watchkeeper in HMS Repulse, a Polaris submarine, 21/2 years as the assistant private secretary to the Second Sea Lord in the MOD and a final appointment as the Commander (logistics) in HMS Antrim during the Falkland’s war, during which we were one of several recipients of unexploded British WWII bombs, sold to Argentina some years previously...
And finally, what do you get if you drop an 'Organ, Portable, Small' on a Royal Marines base?
Answer: A flat major.
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