Drumhead ceremony

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Rowan, May 19, 2013.

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  1. Hello Army folks - I'm a civvy but please bear with me: I'm trying to find out the history and derivation of the drum (drumhead) ceremony which is part of the closing ceremony of the Remembrance Festival at the Albert Hall each November.

    I know that the stacking up of the drums is an Army tradition (I've been referred to your Forum by an ex-Naval man !!! - honest, it's true:) ) and may refer to the drums, long ago, being piled up to form an altar ??? whilst the Army was in the field.

    Be very grateful, and equally interested, if anyone can add to this.

    Thanks in advance/Rowan
  2. The stacked drums were a very early form of PA system, as it allowed the sermon to be carried much further.
  3. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Exactly this. Exigency transformed the drums, often draped with the regimental colours or national flag, into an ad hoc field service altar. Similarly, the drums had previously served as make-do desks for the requisite bureaucracy of discipline in the field and led to the term 'Drumhead Courtmartial'.
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  4. Well !! I'm doing very well so far.
    Thanks to you both, cloudbuster and RP578 - very grateful indeed.

    Any other thoughts or comments gratefully received.

    Thank you, Army folkses !!!
  5. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    The colours, having been blessed by a priest on their award to the regiment, are holy relics and therefore carry the same religious weight as an altar.

    As an aside, when new colours (infantry standard, cavalry guidon) are awarded, the old colours are laid up in a holy or other suitable place. There is some mumbo jumbo about them decaying to dust but I cannot find it quickly. The thread has been done before. Nearest I can find refers to the Boys Brigade which, while not military, have developed similar traditions, presumably because (I have never had anything to do with the organisation) when set up, there will have been ex-servicemen who brought their ways with them):


    See also:

    Colours, standards and guidons - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Cue further swerves off-topic because the Artillery's colours are their guns.

    Digging further into the wiki link I posted:

    Colours in the cavalry regiments
    In the British Army's cavalry units, the Queen's Cavalry Standard and the Regimental Standard (for the heavy cavalry) and the Queen's Cavalry Standard and Regimental Guidons (for the light cavalry) are the equivalents to the line infantry colours. The Queen's Standard is crimson with the Royal coat of arms and cypher, plus the regimental honours, while the Regimental (Squadron/Union) Standard has an adaptable background colour per unit (the colour is sometimes scarlet) and includes sometimes the Union Badge below the crown and the Royal Cypher at the sides of the badge, with the unit honours below. The light cavalry Guidon is swallow-tailed and includes the regimental coat of arms and honours. Before the 1950s, however, Timpani in the drumhorses (and later snare, bass and tenor drums in the dismounted bands) carried the regimental honours and insignia of the light cavalry regiments.
  6. Wow, what detailed information - how very, very kind of you. Thanks so much, very grateful.
  7. Not purely Albert Hall ritual, nor 'long ago': I and hundreds of others attended the post-Falklands open-air drumhead ceremony at Aldershot. Don't have my books so I can't give you the exact date.
  8. Although my Faith is questionable and my attendance at church negligable I have attended Drumhead Services in the field and drawn strength from the fact that far better men than me had done exactly the same down the centuries.
  9. Again, my thanks to one and all for your very kind assistance.
    I would just like to say one thing: I joined ARRSE (love the acronym !!! s:-D) simply to ask for information and I thought that that would be that.
    However, given the appalling incident outside Woolwich Barracks I have had a little snoop around your forum and read some of the posts concerning Drummer Lee Rigby's barbaric murder (may God rest his young soul). He wore a "Help for Heroes" t-shirt and I wear a "HforH" wristband - nothing will make me take it off. If it makes me a target then fine, go ahead. Neither Lee Rigby's nor my death will further the fanatical Islam cause.

    I'm nothing special - as I said in my first post I'm a civilian. I'm also a 68-year old lady with no military background - I guess you could say I'm one of the silent majority and my pure, ancient British blood is one of the pillars of my existence. I'm proud.

    Thank you, Army, for reading this.
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  10. ...and it was all going so well.