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 British drums/bugles

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SRB1965

SRB1965

Posts : 702
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British drums/bugles Empty
PostSubject: British drums/bugles   British drums/bugles EmptyWed Jul 24, 2019 7:46 pm

Hi,
Remember me? The one of stoopid questions and bloody obvious statements......

During the Zulu War did drummers also play the bugle (and I’m talking about the Company drummers)?

Basic tale is – I’m still messing around with my wargames collections and some of my ‘command’ packs have guys with drums and couple of soldiers with a drum but blowing bugle (sort of a one man band).

What was the main instrument for ‘battlefield’ signalling & communications? At Isandlwana there are accounts referencing that the ‘bugles sounded retire’.

Would a Drummer really lug a drum around a battlefield like Isandlwana? I can perhaps see them carrying them in a static battle (eg Kambula or Ulundi) but I’m not sure about dashing around the veldt with them.

Ta

Sime
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90th

90th

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PostSubject: British Drums / Bugles    British drums/bugles EmptyThu Jul 25, 2019 2:08 am

Hi Sime
I think you'll find that Drummers and Band Members were sent off to man stretchers etc for those who may be wounded , Buglers I'd expect would be with the Officers to sound out the commands , no mention of Drummers beating at Isandlwana , but there was talk of Bugle Calls . I don't know to answer your question exactly , but a quick look at the Roll's of the 2/3 rd and the 2/ 4th have Drummers listed numbering between 16- 18 , no Buglers listed , whereas the 1/ 13th has Buglers listed but no Drummers !
90th Very Happy
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SRB1965

SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: British drums/bugles   British drums/bugles EmptyThu Jul 25, 2019 6:43 am

Hi Gary,

Traditionally company musicians were 'ranked' (or appointed?) as Drummers. In Light Infantry regiments - they are known as Buglers because the LI did not use drums in the field.

The bandsmen at Isandlwana. as you say, were used as stretcher bearers, maybe ammo runners but I was referring to the Drummers' on the company establishments.

I spose I am trying to find out that with the use of extended order in the British army did the bugle 'replace' the drum as the main battlefield communication device - being able to be heard over a greater distance and maybe not drowned out like a drum could be by the sound of battle.

If so were the Company Drummers - multi skilled?

Thanks

Sime

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Herbie



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Join date : 2017-11-16

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PostSubject: Re: British drums/bugles   British drums/bugles EmptyFri Jul 26, 2019 12:17 am

Hi Sime,
As you say Drummer was a rank and 2 were scaled to each Company (Buglers instead for light infantry and rifle regiments). Then as now they were trained to use both drum and bugles, although my understanding is that they only used the bugles for transmitting field commands during the AZW. I would guess (but I’m no expert so not sure) that the drums were taken on campaign but they may only have been used on parades and maybe on the approach marches to the Zululand border. Probably relegated to a wagon most of the time or left behind before they crossed the border. The drums are traditionally also used for Sunday church service to form an alter, and I think I’ve seen one or two company photos with drums in but can’t think where at the moment.

The battalion band (about 20 strong I think) were a different institution altogether playing various musical instruments which I believe may also have included a base drum and a couple of others I think. As you say they were the chaps who were used as stretcher bearers and maybe ammo runners during battle, while the Drummers (with their bugles) would have stayed close to the Company commander to sound the various field commands. I think you’re right that with the noise of battle a bugle call was the best method of reaching the ears of an extended rifle company. No idea what different bugle calls they used though.

Cheers Phil.
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SRB1965

SRB1965

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PostSubject: Re: British drums/bugles   British drums/bugles EmptySat Jul 27, 2019 8:21 am

Thanks for the info/insight, Phil.

Presumably being a Drummer/Bugler was something that you initially volunteered for or expressed an interest in?

I can imagine someone being able to get into drumming (I used to do a bit in the Sealed Knot - 40 years ago - obviously not to any quality) if they can remember the different 'beats' (after all - its not like they are expected to be John Bonham) but 'bugling' (to me seems a lot harder)

Cheers

Simon

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Herbie



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Join date : 2017-11-16

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PostSubject: Re: British drums/bugles   British drums/bugles EmptySat Jul 27, 2019 6:05 pm

Haha no I was a mortarman most of my TA/reserve career. I’ve just retired after 30 years.

Whenever our Corps of Drums turned out they usually played the drums but carried a bugle as well and played them on occasion too. They have a slightly different parade uniform to the band as well and the style is still broadly speaking 1870s.

Phil
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