Presidents Report


With the passing of another Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Day and its dedication in this issue of Contact, I want to reflect on tradition, in particular the bugle calls that are so haunting at Remembrance Services and Military Funerals.

The Last Post – In military tradition it is the bugle call which signifies the end of the day’s activities, it is also sounded at military funerals and commemorative services such as ANZAC Day. Its origins stem from the British Army in the 17th century when the duty officer did the rounds checking the sentries at each post. At the first post and last post the tattoo (stemming from the Dutch) was played as drum beats, a bugle call was sounded at the last post and all settled down for the night.

Reveille and Rouse – At commemorative services and military funerals after playing the Last Post and observing one minutes silence, flags are raised from half mast to the masthead and Rouse is sounded. It symbolizes an awakening in a better world for the dead and also rouses the living back to duty. The Rouse is a shorter bugle call than Reveille, it should be noted the Rouse is played on these occasions and at a Dawn Service, Reveille is sounded.

US Military Taps – Taps is similar to the Last Post and like the British Commonwealth bugle call is a derivative of the Dutch “tattoo” The US also used a drum beat to end the day’s activities.
The bugle call is a variation of an earlier bugle call known as Scott Tattoo and was adopted by the US from 1835 until 1860. Its present form was arranged by Union Brigadier General Butterfield and is sometimes known as “Butterfield’s Lullaby”

Let me address the myth that appears in emails from time to time. It is correct to say that Taps was used by both the Union and Confederate Armies. It is false to state that a Union Captain went onto the battlefield at night to rescue a dying Confederate soldier only to find it was his son who, as a musician, had written Taps which his father found in his pocket and had the company bugler sound at his son’s burial.

Tradition is important to all who wear or have worn our countries’ uniform and the brief summary of bugle calls I have described are an important part of our military tradition as are Catafalque Parties Reversing Arms or bearing the coffin of a departed warrior on a Gun Carriage. We must always respect our military traditions and indeed build upon them.

John Fenton JP

For Jack Lake President