- O'Connell, J.F., Warrant Officer One Bugler, RM
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 1998 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The Royal Marines have always been unique in having both Bugle Majors and Drum Majors. The office of Drum Major was probably instituted in the Army due to the neglect and carelessness of the drummers. Apart from teaching the drummers the Drum Major had other duties, some of which were:
“To have with you your apparatus for punishing and it should be an established rule that a man who receives one hundred lashes or more should pay 2d, and if punished a second time for another offence, 6d and that no cat to have more than nine tails“.
In addition to taking charge of the punishment of defaulters he was also Post Master and had to:
“Ensure that the drummers sweep the Officers houses“.
It was also his duty to remove the stripes of NCOs reduced to the ranks.
The Bugle Major
In the Light Infantry regiments the Bugle Major did much the same duties as the Drum Major in other regiments. They both had the status and pay of Sergeant from 1810. In 1891 they were raised to the status of Staff Sergeant and they were entitled to wear a sword and although the status was reduced they have kept the sword. Whereas the Drum Major has retained ceremonial and disciplinary matters, the Bugle Major became responsible for the training of buglers and drummers.
Until 1910 Buglers also carried a cutlass. In fact, the last Royal Marines to carry cutlasses into action were the buglers of the 4th Battalion Royal Marines on the 23rd April 1918 at the raid on Zeebrugge.