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Remembered Today:

Drummer


adrianmartin59
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I was looking at the names on a memorial at St Margerets Church, Wolstanton, Stoke-on-Trent and looked up a couple of names on the CWGC site.

One came up as a Drummer for the 3rd Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment.

I wondered, would all/most/some Regiments have a drummer?

Was this a usual thing? or did they just happen to have a person who could play the drum?

If you are interested, his details are:

Tams, M (Mark) 9900 aged 42, 3rd Battalion North Staffordshire Regiment, Died 25/09/1918.

The other interesting thing is that he is burried at Hanley Cemetery, so his body was returned home!

It's just a general question out of curiosity.

Adrian

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An interesting question, to which i don't have an answer.

I had presumed that drummers were usually under-age, but then that could hardly apply to your guy who died, aged 42.

That he is buried in the UK probably means that he died here, rather than being brought back from the Continent.

Bruce

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I'm afraid i'm no expert, but scouting around the internet, it seems to have been the equivalent rank to a private.

By WW1, of course, there was no need to march into battle to the beat of a drum, and a lot of the information on the internet refers to a previous role including dishing out lashings for misdemeanours.

While there may have been a time when younger boys were recruited into that role, it seems that the average age of a drummer was the same as other soldiers. There are a number of references to drummers being used as stretcher bearers during battle.

Again, these are only internet gleanings, and i'm sure someone will have a more expert answer.

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Being buried at home could indicate he died of wounds in the UK after being sent home. I've checked Soldiers Died and he does not show there and he does not appear to have a Medal Index Card either. Looks as though he never served abroad!

Steve

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Nearly all regular line infantry (not rifle) regiments and some TF battalions and the Guards battalions had a Corps of drums; sometimes referred to as the Drums and, incorrectly, as the Drums and Fifes. Drummers also learned the bugle and it would be used for duty calls as appropriate.

The appointment was Drummer (not a rank) and they were on the establishment of the battalion as trained soldiers.

Boys were used as Drummers but they were "Boys" and not Drummers.

They only became "Drummers" when they reached 18 years old IIRC.

Edited...........

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Cant answer the question, but just thought I'd post a close up pic (courtesy of

the Essex regt Museum) of the 13th Essex Drums, prior to going oversea's.

There's a very young lad in there front row left, and also (I think) a black guy back row middle

Kind regards

post-32022-1250770853.jpg

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Royal Fusilier,

As already stated nearly all territorial Units had a 'Corps of Drums and all Regular Infantry Battalions had a Corps of Drums, Corps of Bugles for Light Infantry and Rifle

Regiments ( You can't march at the double with a drum) The Corps odf drums accompany the Battalion on active service. In the past the 'Drums' performed duty as stretcher bearers or runners. Irish and Scots Regiments have the Pipes and Drums. My Grandson is a Drummer with the 2nd Royal Fusiliers currently deployed in the East. The drums still accompany the Battalion however nowadays they are part of Heavy Weapons.

Tony P

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Hello all

The War Establishment of a regular infantry battalion provided for sixteen Drummers - four per company - under a Serjeant-Drummer (what these days is called a Drum Major). They were used as messengers and orderlies in the field, although as they were also equipped with bugles they may have sounded the normal duty calls on active service.

There are records of the drums of at least one battalion being left behind in retreat and hidden by the local civilian population, despite German offers of rewards for their disclosure. In most cases the drums were safely returned to the battalions at the end of the end of the war. (Something similar happened with the Menin Gate bugles in WW2.)

New Army battalions did not have drummers on their establishments, but had additional privates to perform the non-drumming duties.

I believe that in WW2 the drummers often manned a battalion's Mortar Platoon, which tallies with Tony's comments. It was normally the bandsmen, rather than the Corps of Drums, who provided the stretcher bearers, but when extra SBs were required it is quite possible that drummers were called upon for this role..

Ron

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Although Scottish regiments have Pipers they were not part of the establishment (unlike drummers who were) and they had to paid for by the Regiment. Always a bone of contention with drummers who say it is Drums and Pipes , not Pipes and Drums.

Anyway a couple of photos, the assembled drummers (and pipers) of the 8th Royal Scots (TF) at thier last pre war camp and a young lad named James Meldrum Marchbank who served in France 5/11/14 until the end of the war, he was 14 in 1914 and his rank appears as drummer on his MIC. He was used primarily as a runner and a bugler. The photo is early 1915 and was taken near Bois Garnier.

John

post-12171-1250860555.jpg

post-12171-1250860629.jpg

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Although Scottish regiments have Pipers they were not part of the establishment (unlike drummers who were) and they had to paid for by the Regiment. Always a bone of contention with drummers who say it is Drums and Pipes , not Pipes and Drums.

Hello John.

According to War Establishments 1914, battalions of Highland regiments, and of the Scots Guards, were allowed one sergeant and five privates as pipers, in addition to their normal strength, i.e. these were paid out of general Army funds rather than the regiments. The Lowland and Irish regiments, though, had to pay them regimentally, as did the Highlanders for any additional pipers.

I think the Scots Guards have "Pipes and Drums" and the Irish Guards "Drums and Pipes" but it may be the other way around. On the Queen's Birthday Parade it is always "Massed Bands, Drums and Pipes" which incidentally matches the order in which they stand in their ranks.

Ron

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Thanks Ron,

I was thinking with my 'Lowlanders hat' on there. Incidentally the 8th Royal Scots had a very fine pipe band, but I best not divert away from the drummers.

John

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In the war diary for the 10th Btn Queen's (Royal West Surrey) regiment, for 30th November 1917, they had been marching for 120 miles in Italy, over a period of 8 days, and the entry says:

"The march discipline & bearing throughout was excellent - The Drums which had been organized but a fortnight before leaving Flanders did much to help the march . . . "

It almost sounds as though they had planned ahead, knowing they would have to do a long march, and organised something which wasn't the norm.

Eirian

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Correct me if I'm wrong but I thought that all 3rd Battalions were recruiting / training battalions and didn't leave the UK.

Roy

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Roy,

On the whole yes re 3rd battalions. However there is always an exception to the rule and some battalions did field a 3rd battalion for front line service...for example the Worcestershire regt! There were others too.

Regards

TT

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Roy,

On the whole yes re 3rd battalions. However there is always an exception to the rule and some battalions did field a 3rd battalion for front line service...for example the Worcestershire regt! There were others too.

Regards

TT

I stand corrected! :blush: I'll get me coat.

Roy

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Put your coat down, Roy!

The only line regiments which had 3rd and 4th bns of regular troops were the Royal Fusiliers, Worcestershires, Middlesex, KRRC and Rifle Brigade. In fact 3rd North Staffs, the battalion quoted in the original post was a Special Reserve battalion, i.e. used for training and draft-finding. Most such bns had an additional role within Coast Defences in the UK.

A few other regts had had 3rd and 4th bns in the Boer War (Northumberland Fusiliers, Warwicks, Kings Liverppool and Manchesters IIRC) but these were disbanded in about 1905.

Ron

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Put your coat down, Roy!

Thanks Ron.

Phew!

Roy

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As I said...exceptions to the rule and some did field a third battalion for active service, Ron has listed what I referred to as the others.

Regards

TT

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