During the Second World War new aircrew trained at an Aircrew Reception Centre and then the Initial Training Wing before actual flying experience in the UK, North America or Africa. In their spare time, there would be the cinema, concerts and dances to attend. Torquay was one of the main places for aircrew training, and from 1941 on much of the music was supplied by an RAF band led by Sergeant, and later Warrant Officer, Gilbert Vinter. Gilbert arrived in Torquay at the beginning of June 1941 and his band gave their first official performance for the RAF Benevolent fund at Torquay Town Hall.
A few days later the band played at a youth rally and march past. Soon the band was in demand not only for ceremonial duties but for concerts and dances, very often playing at the Imperial Hotel.
Their duties took them to many towns and aircraft factories in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Gloucestershire, Shropshire, Hampshire, Staffordshire and Wales. In March 1943 they took part in massed band parades in various parts of London.
Also, from time to time the band was called upon to take part in broadcasts for the BBC home and overseas services. Gilbert was already an accomplished composer and arranger before the war and continued during his time in the RAF, arranging music and writing original compositions.
It was during his time in Torquay that he wrote Hunter’s Moon for horn and orchestra. He also wrote Per Adua Ad Astra and there were many more arrangements and original pieces of music.
From time to time he moonlighted and conducted the Torquay Municipal Orchestra at the Pavilion. One of the longest running programmes on radio is ‘Friday Night is Music Night’ on BBC Radio 2. The programme has been running since 1952 and some of the music was arranged, composed and conducted by Gilbert who died in 1969 at 60 years of age.
Here’s Hunter’s Moon, composed by Gilbert during his time in Torquay: