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» Bearing The Cross by Ken Blakeson | BBC RADIO DRAMA: Ken Blakeson's play tells the story of the Battle of Rorke's Drift and the effect it had on three of the soldiers who fought in it.
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 Corps of Drums

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cetewayo

cetewayo


Posts : 24
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PostSubject: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 6:05 am

I have a question regarding the functioning of the Corps of Drums and was hoping one of the resident experts on this site might be able to help me. I am unclear about how the Corps of Drums was made up and how it functioned with the battalion. From what I understand, the Corps of Drums was made up of the two drummers assigned to each company and a Drum-Major. Is this correct? If so, then that would mean the Corps of Drums totaled 16 members not including the Drum-Major. In a photo I saw of the 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment’s Corps of Drums, however, there are approximately 26 members not including the Drum-Major. Does this mean there were additional members apart from the 16 drummers assigned to the companies? Also, did the two drummers allotted to each company accompany the company whenever the company was deployed, or did they remain with the battalion’s command? If anyone has any insight on this or can direct me to a book that might be helpful, I would greatly appreciate it. It is something that I have always been curious about.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 6:13 am

Cetewayo,

Without knowing which photograph you are referring to, I would suggest that you might be looking a photograph of the band, rather than just the drums.

Could you give me a reference for the photograph that you are looking at, so I can clarify matters?

JY
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cetewayo

cetewayo


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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 6:24 am

Hi John. I can't remember which book I saw it in and I''m away from my library right now, but the picture I'm referring to is also on the following website:
[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

I am aware of the photo of the 1/24th band in one of Ian Knight's books, and this picture supposedly depicting the corps of drums is definitely different.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 8:26 am

Cetewayo,

I haven’t got it myself but try James Tanner’s Instruments of Battle: The Fighting Drummers and Buglers of the British Army from the Late 17th Century to the Present Day.

Also see D. E. Langley’s The Organisation of the British Army in There Will Be An Awful Row..., edited by Ian Knight, 1987 revised edition. There is a tabled form of the organisation of an infantry battalion. Which mentions, as you do, the sixteen Drummers, or in the case of Light Infantry - Buglers.

Now I am going to throw in a suggestion, not based on known fact, just a thought. Could the photograph show the Drummers of both Battalions?

Hopefully, one of the members associated the Museum at Brecon might be able to clarify that. There is also someone on the forum uniquely qualified to discuss the role of the Corps of Drums from a modern perspective.

JY
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Herbie




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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 3:19 pm

I’m no expert but looks to me to be a photo of the band, possibly with 3 or 4 company drummers as well. Several men on the left appear to have flutes. The band included a few drummers of its own I believe (at least a base drum). There seem to be 6 drums in the stack in front including a base drum and 1 or 2 smaller side? drums as well as 3 snare? drums on top. There appear to be 5 men with shoulder straps to carry the smaller drums (at least 1 of these is also holding a bugle) and I think the bearded man in the back row may have the harness for the base drum. Not sure if the shoulder wings were worn by both band and drummers in full dress?
Phil
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 4:04 pm

Phil,

I believe Drummers and Bandsmen wore different style wings.

Here’s an example of a Bandsboy - by the look of him - 2nd/24th photograph taken at Chatham, presumably taken prior to embarking to SA.

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Bandsboy, 2nd/24th, Chatham.
(John Young Collection.)

Rather than flutes I would suggest the soldiers in the Pinetown photograph have fifes, as in the fifes & drums.

I will dig out the information the wings to confirm matters.

JY
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cetewayo

cetewayo


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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 4:20 pm

John,
Thank you so much for your suggestions. I will see if I can track down a copy of those resources. I think your theory that the photo might be the drummers from both battalions makes sense.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 5:56 pm

Cetewayo,

Try tracking down this lead.

Soldiers of the Queen the Journal of the Victorian Military Society, Volume 5, Issue 18.

In the Zulu Supplement: there is an article by the previously mentioned D. E. Langley, entitled The Corps of Drums of the 2nd/24th 1879 At Pinetown, South Africa, after ZULU WAR.

The article details information regarding the Drummers’ tunics worn in the photograph.

D. E. Langley points out the officer standing to the right of the group. The Drum-Major in the peaked forage cap, apart from one soldier who is wearing an other-ranks tunic, the remaining men are wearing Drummers’ tunics.

There were eight surviving Drummers on listed the Medal Roll of the 1st/24th, and eighteen Drummers of 2nd/24th. I have discounted one Drummer from 2nd/24th who received the bar 77-8, but included two Drummers from 1st/24th who received the bar 77-8 as they may have been those from Captain Harrisson’s Company, which served on southern Natal border during the 1879 campaign.

JY
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cetewayo

cetewayo


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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 6:12 pm

Thanks John. Great information. I will see if I can track that source down.
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John Young

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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySat May 30, 2020 6:21 pm

Cetewayo,

On closer examination of the photograph I can spot two soldiers in the other-ranks tunic, just to add to the confusion.

JY
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90th

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PostSubject: Corps of Drums    Corps of Drums EmptySun May 31, 2020 4:58 am

Hi All
Yes most certainly Fifes as stated in the notation of the pic posted by cetewayo , also mentions Buglers wearing the crossed Green braids(?) , Fringes and Wings , non fringes etc , a very nice photograph . I think if it was the entire ' Band ' , other instruments would've been on display as well , which I've seen in other pics showing Regimental Bands .
90th Salute
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cetewayo

cetewayo


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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySun May 31, 2020 7:16 am

John Young wrote:
Cetewayo,

On closer examination of the photograph I can spot two soldiers in the other-ranks tunic, just to add to the confusion.

JY

Yes, I noticed them. I wasn't sure whether drummers wore OR tunics without the wings or whether the two in the picture were not actually part of the Corps of Drums. Just another piece of the puzzle which needs to be discovered, but it's what makes researching history so fascinating.
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Herbie




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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySun May 31, 2020 8:13 am

I’m now convinced they are drummers too. Didn’t realise they played Fife’s too in this period. I think the lace down the seams of the sleeves may distinguish them from the band as well? I notice there are 2 Cpls and a LCpl who aren’t listed as Cpl or LCpl Drummer on the roll as some regimental rolls do. Maybe they picked up after the war or maybe they are included with the other NCOs in the rolls?
Phil
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John Young

John Young


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PostSubject: Re: Corps of Drums   Corps of Drums EmptySun May 31, 2020 10:10 am

Herbie,

You are perfectly correct, and I am in error.

The instruments are either flutes or piccolos, then I remembered one of my old manuals had illustrations of them and the equipment they were carried in.

[You must be registered and logged in to see this image.]

JY
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