Bandmaster Richard Ernest Wade



Richard Ernest Wade was born on 18 April 1866 at Silakot, Punjab, East India, one of a number of children of Irish-born Hussars cavalryman Sergeant Richard Collins Wade and his wife Sarah Anne (née Anderson). His father was discharged in 1876 on the completion of nearly 21 years' service and the family returned to England.

Wade enlisted in the 5th Lancers at Portsmouth on 18 March 1881 (No.2409), joining the regiment at Newbridge twelve days later. He was aged 14 years 11 months. In April 1884 he was appointed trumpeter; he reverted to bandsman in March 1887; was promoted to lance corporal four months later; and to corporal in February 1888. He embarked for India on 20 November that year, serving there until he returned home on 13 May 1894. While there he had been promoted to lance sergeant in February 1889, and sergeant that November.

On 1 September 1897 Wade transferred to the 10th Royal Hussars (Prince of Wales's Own) (No.3796), where a week later he was promoted to the rank of bandmaster.

On 18 December 1897 he married May Irene Dadd in St Luke's Parish Church, Chelsea. At the time of the 1901 Census they were living at 2 Artillery Mansions, Nightingale Place, Woolwich, with their first child, Richard Seymour.

Wade served another tour in India, from 23 October 1902 to 21 November 1908. In 1906 he was awarded a Long Service & Good Conduct Medal. Following his return to England, on 30 November 1908 he was discharged, his conduct and character recorded as 'exemplary' and his special qualifications listed as an 'excellent bandmaster and musician'. He was then aged 42.

The day after his discharge Wade joined the newly-former North Irish Horse as bandmaster. His first role was to hire and train a band for the regiment. On 5 December 1908 the following advertisement appeared in the Belfast Evening Telegraph:

Bandsmen wishing to join the Band of the North Irish Horse should apply personally between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Monday next to Mr. R. Wade, Bandmaster, Headquarters North Irish Horse, Skegoniel Avenue.
Brass, Reed and String Players required.

The Band's first public performance was at Ormeau Park, Belfast, on the evening of 10 June 1909. Over the following years they regularly performed at public events over the summer months. In August 1909 they performed at the 'Golden West' Exhibition at Earl's Court in London.


The Northern Whig, 11 June 1909.


The American Register, 21 August 1909.


Wade remained as regimental bandmaster until the outbreak of war in August 1914. At some point over the following year the band was dissolved, no doubt due to the demployment of so many band members to active service with the North Irish Horse and other regiments. Wade was discharged on 31 December 1915.

He subsequently returned to England with his family. At the time of the 1939 Register he and his wife were living at Flat 3, 25 Ventnor Villas, Hove, Sussex. He died there on 18 January 1946.

According to a Medal Index Card record, Wade was awarded a Meritorious Service Medal on 17 June 1944.


Wade's son Richard Seymour Wade also served in the military. Appointed 2nd lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery in August 1916, he remained in the service until he retired in May 1947, having reached the rank of Major (honorary Lieutenant-Colonel) and been mentioned in despatches and awarded an OBE (Military Division) in 1945.


Band of the 10th Hussars, 1903. Wade is seated fifth from the left, next to the officer.


Band of the 10th Hussars, 1907. Wade is in the centre, behind the drums.


An image of the Band of the North Irish Horse can be seen here.


Images of Wade and the band of the 10th Hussars sourced from The British Empire site.


This page last updated 17 October 2023.