UNIFORMS OF BANDSMEN AND TRUMPETERS
Unlike the infantry, musicians and trumpeters in cavalry regiments basically wore the same uniforms as the other ranks. Heavy cavalry had perhaps more distinctions than hussars and lancers. In most of the regiments of Dragoon Guards and Dragoons, the helmet plume was a different colour to that of the rest of the regiment. Regulations for different coloured plumes are not always clear, but it seems to have been the province of the commanding officer and occasionally changes were made. Later in the century, it seems that the kettledrummers may have worn different plumes to the rest of the band but the only example I can find is that of the Royal Dragoons. The most famous kettledrummer distinction was the white bearskin of the 2nd Dragoons, Royal Scots Greys. The story goes and still persists, that it was presented to the regiment by Tsar Nicholas II on his appointment to Colonel-in-Chief in 1894. This account is almost certainly apocryphal as it seems to have made an appearance as early as 1885. By the end of the century, it was in use more often but by no means all the time. Of course it is worn exclusively today by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards bass drummer and kettledrummer when they are on parade.
The plume colours were as follows
1st Dragoon Guards ……… White 2nd Dragoon Guards ……... White 3rd Dragoon Guards ……… White until 1897 then Black over Red 4th Dragoon Guards ……… Black over White until 1885 then White 5th Dragoon Guards ……… Scarlet 6th Dragoon Guards ……… Scarlet 7th Dragoon Guards ……… White 1st Dragoons ………………White – Kettledrummer Black over White after 1997 2nd Dragoons …………….. Bearskin w Crimson plume – Kettledrummer White Bearskin* 6th Dragoons …………….. Scarlet
*Both black and white bearskins had the Hanover horse on the rear.
Among the various changes made to the rank structure in 1881 was the reduction of certain staff-sergeants 2nd class to sergeant. This included Trumpet-Majors in the cavalry and artillery and Drum, Bugle & Pipe-Majors in other branches. They would henceforth be ranked as Sergeant-Trumpeter, Sergeant-Drummer, Sergeant-Bugler and Sergeant-Piper. Despite this, they would often be referred to and described as their old ranks (unofficially, of course!). It would be 1928 before the ranks were officially restored.
The rank mark for Sergeant-Trumpeter was a four-bar chevron, points up on the lower right sleeve below the elbow. Above this were the crossed trumpets in gold bullion, bells down, on a scarlet ground (Blue for the 6th DG). For trumpeters below the rank of sergeant, the crossed trumpets were worn on the sleeve above the elbow and above chevrons (Corporal & L/Cpl).
Bandsmen did not wear any sleeve badge at all. The bandmaster’s badge of a lyre within a wreath with the crown above was authorized in 1887 and it was worn on the sleeve below the elbow. Regimental NCOs’ arm badges, where allowed, were worn between the trumpets and the chevrons for sergeant-trumpeters and below the crown & lyre for bandmasters. The bandmaster of the 4th Dragoon Guards wore the St. Patrick star below his badge prior to 1902 but not afterwards.