Band and Drums Music
Bugle and Bugle Horns
The word 'Bugle' first recorded in Middle English (roughly 1200-1500) is derived, via French interpretation, from the Latin 'Bucculus' or ox. 'Bugle' is an abbreviation of the full term 'Bugle Horn' and the 'ox' connection is then obvious.
The instrument quickly became a means of rallying and signalling, gradually superseding the drum whose rolls and beats could easily be lost in the noise of battle.
By the end of the eighteenth century plans were afoot to issue bugles to all infantry regiments for communication purposes. But besides its presence on the battlefIeld the bugle became adaptable for more peaceful purposes, being used in camps and barracks for sounding the various actions and requirements of the military day.
From Reveille to Last Post and Lights Out it was the soldier's time piece and regulator. Various Regimental, Battalion and Company calls evolved over a period of time.
As late as 1966 a booklet was published entitled 'Trumpet and Bugle Sounds for the Army 1966' (HMSO, Army Code 14163) The general acceptance of modem watches and technical timepieces has largely rendered the bugle obsolete for practical purposes. One day, perhaps, for some obscure or sentimental reason, it may be heard again on a field of battle, its stirring notes far outstripping anything that modem technology can produce.
Regimental Calls and Duty Calls
The Regimental Call/Battalion Call always preceded the Duty Call. Each Battalion had its own call and this was sounded so that if the unit was in a large garrison or camp the unit would, (or should) know which drummer was sounding the call.
The Queen's Royal Surrey Regimental Call
For many years the Army responded to bugle calls throughout the working day. The drummer until the end of the nineteenth century was the signaller in the battalion. Gradually as warfare changed the need for the bugle calls in action ceased and the bugler was used to sound the calls in barracks and garrisons.
Many of these calls are no longer used and have no relevance in todays army but a good number of our readers will remember the calls, and the doggerel to remember them, or answering the bugle calls so let us have a look at some of them.
'Get out of bed! Get out of bed! You lazy bastards.
There's one more day to serve the King'.
'Come, make a move and show a leg -Why dilly dally?
Now, don't you hear? Get out of bed, it's past Reveille!
Get out now, sharp, for the day's begun.'
The Rouse was to awaken troops, and, fifteen minutes later, was followed by the Reveille call, when troops turned out. Major stations in India saw the flag hoisted at the Morning Gun, fired just before this call, (hence the term 'Gunfire' for the early morning tea when available).
A call more popular for its attractive manner than its requirements:
'Show a leg, show a leg and fold your blankets, show a leg,
show a leg and fold your blankets, one more day to serve the King'
On the first meal call:-
'Oh! Come to the cookhouse door, boys,
Come to the cookhouse door'
the Orderly Men from each barrack rooms reported to the cookhouse to draw the rations, supervised by the Orderly Officer and assorted Orderly Sergeants. At the second call or Hot Potatoes.
'Oh pick 'em up, pick 'em up hot potatoes oh, pick 'em up,
pick 'em up hot potatoes oh!'
troops began their meal, visited by the battalion duty officer etc. The doggerel words to the trio of Payne's march 'Punjab',
'Why should I draw rations when I'm not the Orderly Man'
are from this. The first dining room attached to its cookhouse opened in Wellington Barracks, London on 28th July 1858. (Chef Soyer built hospital kitchens in the Crimea and Aldershot saw sheltered feeding, but both were based on field kitchens.
Half Hour and Quarter Hour Calls
'Warning for parade! It's half an hour they give us to get in good trim.
Half and hour before those bugles call 'Fall in'. Lor!
There's a lot to be done-shave, wash and clean the old gun!
Everything's done on the run ... Listen! There hark!
Same old Remark, heard in the Ark, 'Half an hour for, warning for p'rade'
'Just a half an hour they give us all to dress, lots of time to turn out afresh!
Things will go bad if you're not there just the
same .... the Ord'ly Sergeant, he'll jot down your name.
Then take my tip boys, half an hour you've got, Just look sharp
And get on the spot!'
'Quarter my boys! Time to make a move. Fifteen minutes and you must be there '.
'Quarter my boys! Time to make a move, you've got a face like a chickens arse'.
Reactions to these were dependent upon the parade to which troops were bidden. If a company parade, the troops mustered in time for the parade to be handed over at the time shown in company detail but for a battalion parade companies were formed up in time for the Quarter Call. Then they could march on to the markers when Advance was sounded (ie not the Fall In, as the companies had already 'paraded') With no call for markers ie the right-hand men of companies. Orderly Corporals was used in some regiments.
'The order is sounding Tommy Atkins fall in the ranks.
Be ready and steady. Naughty Tommy none of your pranks'
'That's the call, for us all. Fall in now the short and the tall!
In you fall, great and small, see you stand up smart at the call!'
'Fall in A", fall in B", fall in all the companies.'
Dismiss or No Parade
'Oh, there's no parade today, Oh, there's no parade today,
It's jolly seldom that we get the chance to stay away'.
This was a final call indicating in some regiments that there was no more work so men could go home or at other times that a particular parade was over or was cancelled.
'There's no parade today. There's no parade today.
The Colonel and the Adjutant have gone away to stay'.
'Letters from Lousy Lou boys, letters from Lousy Lou Maybe there's one for me boys, maybe there's one for you'
Or the slightly purified:
'There goes the call for letters, latest from Home Sweet Home'
A call this, at which Orderly Corporals collected the mail from the post room for distribution
'I called them, I called them, they wouldn't come, I called them, I called them, they wouldn't come at all!'
Sounded routinely for men under punishment to assemble for detail, or, in the working day, for those men detailed to do fatigues from the Duty Company.
'Come all you defaulters and listen to me and answer
your name for CB'
'You can be a defaulter as long as you like,
as long as you answer your name!'
Note: Restriction of Privileges has replaced CB (Confined to Barracks).
'The orderly sergeants are wanted now -
orderly sergeants to run! Come!'
To summon Company Orderly Sergeants it could be sounded at any time but always for RSM's Detail (about mid-morning). Orderly Corporals was also used as a matter of routine, CQMS rarely but if CSM were blown for, serious matters were afoot. For these others:
'Now Flags come answer your call, I say, 'Flags',
come answer your call: Come! Come!
Also for CSM and CQMS and,
'Oh! Ord'ly corporals has gone again.
Raise your elbows and run! 'for the orderly corporals '.
'Sick or ill take a pill unable to work until you're well'
'Sixty four, ninety-four! He'll never go sick no more.
The poor blighter's dead
'Bring out the sick - never mind the dead!'
Parade for Guard
A call with an obvious function, it was preceded by the Half Hour and Quarter Calls.
'Come and do your guard boys. Come and do your guard,
tisn't very easy boys, tisn't very hard'
Sounded in succession by the Drummers of the Old and New Guards when presenting arms to each other as a part of the relief procedure.
'Now it's all non-comms who are on duty and officers answer
the call! Colonel's in his chair-you bet he won't spare
any prisoner's all all. 'Tis orderly room!'
Usually timed for just before lunch to interfere as little as possible with training, this called for Commanding Officers' Orders where summary justice was dispensed and commanding officer's interviews given.
'Come for orders, come for orders, now be sharp, hurry up!
Come for orders; you know Corps is waiting for the orders of
The day - So come, let 'em have the news!'
Usually sounded when daily orders were complete and ready for collection by company clerks or company runners and thus, often blown in the afternoon.
'Officers, come to your call. Officers come to your call,
Officers come to your call. Time gentleman please'
'Officers, come when you're called! Adjutant's shouted and bawled!
Colonel he'll swear that you crawled! Come! Come! Come!
'Officers come and be damned. Officers come and be damned!
A call rarely heard.
'Pioneer, pioneer, pioneer there's a dog been on the square!
Pioneer, pioneer, pioneer and it's left its business there!'
A rare call as the Quartermaster guarded his tradesmen jealously. Battalion pioneers were 'in-house' tradesmen rather than of the Royal Pioneer Corps (now Royal Logistic Corps) and particularly provided tree-felling and explosives expertise. An alternative set of words which perhaps reflect times when deployed, were:
'Come along, Pioneer, you are wanted here, to try and clear
the way! Look alive Pioneer! You must work, no fear, or we'll
be here all day!'
'It's time we heard the band they haven't played all day'
'Now let the band strike up, and play us home today,
Drummers all, big and small, don't you hear the Drummers Call?'
The Adjutant might decide to devote the fIrst twenty minutes of parade to foot and arms drill at the halt and then use the Band and Drums when it was time to begin marching. Further, although the Drums were signallers until the end of the nineteenth century, as their functions diverged the need for a separate call can be understood. So, for the latter, 'Signallers, come'.
'Now go to school and learn to write. It gets you on for the stripe'
Usually sounded during the morning when the day's education began.
'Go for the rations Ord'ly man, stale bread and meat and plenty of bone'
It signalled the bulk issue of rations to messes and cookhouses from the ration store, which was usually sounded around mid-day and was an event attended by the Orderly/Picquet Officer, Sergeant and Corporal, (though why the latter history tells not!). Young officers were taught to examine meat by touch and smell because checking its fitness for consumption was central to their part of this duty.
'There's a fire, there's a fire. Come and pump
the water boys. Come and put it out '.
Sounded by the first Drummer to spot a fire or, at last, by the Guard Drummer, it was always followed by the Double and was taken up by all Drummers and was answered at the double. As the Guard Drummer had to navigate his route swiftly sounding this call, by the 1960s he frequently used the battalion cycle. It was invariably followed by the Double. When taught with the Double, the words sometimes were,
'There's a fire, there's a fire, there's a fire. Run and get the
engine boys and put the bugger out '.
The engine in this case was the Fire Picquet's water cart, which contained fire apparatus of the Victorian era!
'Run you buggers, run you buggers, run you buggers, run'
This could follow any call and invariably meant trouble, either from an alarm or for those summoned by the call proceeding.
'Running isn't very easy boys so would rather have a walk '.
A call very similar to the Fire Call. When the British Army was serving in India and particularly the North West Frontier, the tribesmen were always attempting to 'get over the wall' or the Sangers in order to steal a rifle or kill a soldier who was not alert. The Alarm would be sounded and continuously sounded until the alarm was over.
'There's a nigger on the wall,
There's a nigger on the wall,
There's a nigger on the wall '.
So much for 'political correctness' in those days.
Officer's Dress for Dinner (1st Call)
'Come officers dress for dinner I say, officers dress to dine '.
'Dinner is ready don't let it get cold. So list to what I am
saying and hasten there and get your seat, before the band
starts playing, 'Officers' wives get puddens and pies, a
Sergeants wife gets skilly, But a privates wife gets nothing at
All to fill her empty belly'.
Sergeant's Dinner Call
'The bugle is sounding the dinner is ready so Sergeants take warning its dinner for you'
When soldiers were paid weekly, (sometimes during the Boer War and First World War their pay was paid at irregular intervals) soldiers were paid their money, each man stepping forward as his name was called.
'Fall in for pay boys, Fall in for pay. You've bloody well
earned it boys. Your shilling a day'
this was sometimes varied to:
'Swinging the lead boys, swinging the lead.
Always remember, to work your lead'.
A call sounded by the Guard Drummer when the Quarter Guard paid compliments to the commanders of formations in which the battalion was serving. Other brigadiers and generals would have been offered compliments but without a General Salute, and to all armed parties larger than the Guard.
The Picquet, sometimes called the Reinforcement Guard was mounted at Retreat and could be used in emergencies, whilst the Quarter Guard was in the Guardroom area to protect the safe, property and detention prisoners until ordered otherwise. Otherwise this picquet provided emergency fire cover.
This call has always signalled the change from day to night routine and is in summary, 'the end of the soldier's working day, except for duties and punishments'. There is no evidence that it or retreat marches or drum beatings have ever meant anything else. This change to night routine meant the Picquet was mounted, stores and armouries had been locked and the Quarter Guard turned out for inspection by the Guard Commander. Later this was also the time to mount the new Barrack Guard. The unit flag was lowered; (normally by the Guard Drummer, once he had completed sounding Retreat).
'you won't go to Heaven, when you die Mary Ann,
When you die, Mary Ann, no, you won't,
no you won't no you won't Mary Ann'
The Evening Gun would also be fired at this stage (see also the Rouse and the Morning Gun). It is worthy of note when mentioning lowering the battalion flag (not to be confused with colours) that the 'Great Union' was only permitted to be flown at designated Flag Stations. The size of the flag depended on such important anniversaries as Royal birthdays. 'Tattoo comprising the First Post and the Last Post it is thought to have emerged from the system of closing town gates wherein once sentries were posted, the Picquet Officer accompanied by the Picquet Sergeant would inspect all sentry posts, with a call being blown to note the first and last sentry posts visited. More recently, the First Post was sounded at 9.30pm signalling the Company Orderly Sergeants to tour barrack rooms, checking nominal rolls en route, at the same time the Quarter Guard turned out for a Guard Commander's inspection. At 9.55pm Staff Parade was held, all those on duty, plus the Defaulters, paraded at the Guardroom for inspection. There, the duty non-commissioned officers made their final reports of the day to the Orderly Officer or the Captain of the Week; (depending on which of them took this parade). Until 1914, it was customary for the 'Drums to beat Retreat or Tattoo' on alternate days of the week. (see Potter 'Drum and Flute Duty' p54). The word Tattoo is believed to have come from, 'Doe den tiptoe' or close the taps, bungs were hammered into the barrels and marked with a chalk cross as a simple 'closed' expedient, when campaigning in the Low Countries. Germany's Zapfenstreich is similar. It is perhaps by poetic or natural associations that the Last Post has become part of military funerals as service men go to their 'last posting'.
Sounded between 10.15pm and 11pm dependent on battalion custom, this call delivered just what its name proclaims, all lights other than those for personnel on duty were to be extinguished, and there to be no noise or talking before Reveille.