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Warrant Officer Class 2 (Band Sergeant Major) Michael Dabbs MBE RVM
Late Grenadier Guards

by Lance Sergeant Nigel Turner
Grenadier Guards

Michael (Mickey, as he was affectionately known by the Regiment) Dabbs was born in the mining village of Grimethorpe on 15th November 1949, one of five siblings. Growing up in this kind of community he was introduced to the trombone at an incredibly early age and began playing with the Grimethorpe Colliery Junior Band from just nine years old. He progressed very quickly and within a few years became a member of the world famous Grimethorpe Colliery Band touring the length and breadth of the country playing at competitions and concerts whilst securing a job at the pit as a trainee carpenter. Alas, the job at the pit ended abruptly when his hand became trapped in a machine, so he had to rethink his career.

A future in music was always going to be an option for such a talented young player so he left Grimethorpe at the age of 17 ‘with a trombone and a big heart’ to seek to ply his trade. After a brief spell in the Royal Marines, he moved to the Parachute Regiment but suffered a training accident. That’s when an eagle-eyed legendary Director of Music by the name of Rodney Bashford recruited him into the Grenadier Guards, a move which was to define his military career.

It wasn’t long before the young ‘Mick’ Dabbs was leading the trombone section with solo performances which are now part of the Band folklore. Throughout the 70s and 80s he graduated through the ranks of the Regimental Band, even having a spell on Bass Drum as Regimental Timebeater, but primarily as a trombone player.

During his time in the Band, he saw active service in Northern Ireland as a medic with the 1st Battalion, served with the UN Mission in Cyprus with the 2nd Battalion and took the Band on Exercise Lionheart in the former West Germany which at the time was the largest deployment of British troops since World War 2. He was involved in the operations room during the London Ambulance Strike in 1989 when the Band were deployed onto the streets as Medical Orderlies.

His Band tours included many trips to almost every country in Western Europe, the United States of America, Canada, Australia, Belize, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

His generosity knew no bounds, he was a larger-than-life character always wanting to be centre of attention and making sure everyone had fun in whatever they were doing whilst still maintaining professionalism and ensuring the Band always delivered a sterling performance. He had a nickname for everyone and everything, so much so no one except him knew what they meant or even where they came from as he very often talked ‘Dabbsish’.

Appointed Band Sergeant Major in 1985, he was to hold this position until his retirement from the Colours in 1993 when he was then the Senior Band Sergeant Major Household Division, earning the title ‘King of the Spin Wheel’ as he was always the right-hand man of the Massed Bands on the Queen’s Birthday Parade. For his musical prowess and ability to bring out the best in people’s talents, he was awarded the MBE in 1989 for services to military music.

On leaving the Band, he was recruited into the Queen’s Bodyguard of the Yeoman of the Guard where once again he was very well respected and attained the rank of Divisional Sergeant Major for which he gained the RVM on his retirement in 2019.

His last outside performance on trombone was at the ‘Perry’s Pride’ concert in 2019 at the Guards’ Chapel where, under the baton of Lieutenant Colonel Derek Kimberley MBE, Grenadier Guards, he played what was his adopted theme tune Misty. For those of us who remembered it from all those years ago there was not a dry eye in the house!

Mike died on 20th February 2022. He leaves his daughter Joanne, son David, a Granddaughter Francesca, and partner Ann.

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