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TitleOur Army: Customs and Traditions -
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Document Text Contents
Page 2

Foreword from Chief of Army

Message from SAF Sergeant Major

Note from Sergeant Major of the Army


Editorial Committee

Our Beginnings 1

Military Etiquette and Decorum 19

Colours, Standard and Pennant 31

Ceremonial Dress and Pageantry Display 59

Parade and Ceremony 81

Mess Customs 91

Military Dining-In 99

Military Wedding 111

Do You Know...? 115

Bibliography 133

Reference 135

Origins of Military Words 137

Special Thanks 145

Index 147


Page 79

Military music, though usually
associated with joyous military
occasions, can also be a touching
dedication to the fallen comrade in
arms. The “Last Post” is a
melancholic but dignified tune
usually played at military funerals
by a sole bugler to signify the
passing of a brave member of the
Armed Forces. The “Last Post”
and “Dead March from Soul” are
examples of tunes commonly used
to honour the fallen dead in the


Bugles were
first used to
control the
movement of
troops in

played at 6am, at noon and at 6
pm in the evening, every day. This
custom was adapted from the
British practice of sounding the
bugle every day, at the prescribed
timing, whilst outfield.


How did a drummer’s word like
“tattoo” get tagged on a bugle
call? It probably originated
among the British troops in
Holland during the Thirty Years’

War (1618–1648) or during the
wars of King William III in the
1690’s. When the time came for
soldiers to leave the taverns and
return to their billets, the Officer
of the Day, with a Sergeant and
drummer, would beat his way
through the streets. It is the
signal to quiet down in barracks
and to turn off the lights within
fifteen minutes.


Of all the military bugle calls, none
is so easily recognized or more apt
to render emotion than Taps. Up
to the Civil War, the traditional call
at day’s end was a tune, borrowed
from the French, called Lights Out.

This more emotive and powerful
Taps was soon adopted
throughout the Army of the
Potomac. In 1874 it was officially
recognized by the U.S. Army. It

The bugle, short for “bugle horn”,
is a descendant of the hunting horn.
The word “bugle” itself is an
obsolete term for a wild ox or
buffalo. The first hunting horns
were unquestioningly made from
the horn of this animal.

Bugles were first used to control
the movement of troops in battle.
Bugle music can be used to
signal the different times of the
day. It is common practice in
Army camps, bugle music is

70 Ceremonial Dress and Pageantry Display

Page 80

became standard at military funeral
ceremonies in 1891. There is
something singularly beautiful and
appropriate in the music of this
wonderful call. Its strains are
melancholy, yet full of rest and
peace. Its echoes linger in the heart
long after its tones have ceased
to vibrate in the air.


It is reasonable to assume that the
Corps of Drums as we know today
came into being after the Cardwell
Reforms of 1872 although the
drums and the fifes had of course
played together long before this
date. Battalions were still
organised into eight companies
with two drummers to each
company. With a Drum Major to
supervise the training and well
being of all the drummers, it was
obviously better to concentrate
them into one group or “Corps”.
The association with Continental
Troops over the years must also
have influenced the formation of
a Corps of Drums. The Habit of
parading the Corps of Drums (of
Line Regiments) in front of the
band was copied from the French.

The drums are primarily intended
for supplying music on the march.
It is, therefore, of the first
importance that the drummers, and
especially the bass drummer,
should be well trained in beating the

strict marching time of the battalion.
The effect of the drums is to instil into
the soldier the swing of the movement
of marching as opposed to the action
of walking together in close
formation. Not only is the music of
the drums a wonderful aid to troops
on the march but it is also an aid to a
soldier’s courage and the moral for
which the British Infantry is so justly


Traditionally, a military medal is a
metal shape (usually a round disk)
suspended by a strip of ribbon or
fabric, often from a top bar. Medals
in the shape of a star, four, five or six
point, are representative of service
in a theatre of war. Other shapes may
also be seen. Medals are traditionally
worn on the left side of one’s shirt
or jacket, normally on formal white
tie occasions. There are also medals
that are worn around the neck. In
the military, medals are worn on
clothing of distinctive design worn
by members of a particular group as
a means of identification on formal
occasions. In day to day wear, or
certain military occasions or on
simple shirts, they are represented
in the form of thin fabric bars on the
left side of the uniform.

The effect of
the drums is
to instil into
the soldier
the swing of
movement of
marching as
opposed to
the action of
together in

Ceremonial Dress and Pageantry Display 71

Page 158


- 6 SIR 41
- 40 SAR
- 41 SAR
- 42 SAR
- 46 SAR
Singapore National Flag, Anthem 10
and State Arms
Social Etiquette 29
Specialists 22
Standing up as a Sign of Respect 29
State & Regimental Colours 35
State and Regimental Colours 35
in the SAF
- SAF State Colours
- SAFTI Military Institute State Colours
State Arms 12
Straits Settlement’s Coat of Arms 127
Sword Bearers 115
Sword Salute 86
Table Manners 106
Taps 72
Tattoo 72
The Band in Attendance 111
The Birth of SAF 3
The Ceremonial Uniform 63
The Last Post 133
The Ministry of Interior and Defence 4
The Parade Square 85
The President Standard 51
The Review 85
The Three Cheers 89
Toast 109
Transporting of Colours 56
Transporting the Deceased 129
Trooping of Colours 87
Two or more Officers together 27
Types of Medals in the SAF 73
Types of Military Funeral in the SAF 128
Uniform and Dress 105
Vigil Guards 130


Vocational Collar Badges 78
Warrant Officers 22
Weapon Presentation 91
Welcome Guard 91
When to Salute 24
When not to salute 26
Whom to Salute 24
Withdrawal from Service 57
What’s in a Rank 124
Why a Lieutenant General Ranks 120
above a Major General
Why Medals are worn on the left side 75
of the Uniform?
Why RSM don the Ceremonial Sword? 69
Wreath 132

Index 149

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