Home > CMH > Vol. 15 (2006) > Iss. 3
During the First World War the Canadian Expeditionary Force recruited a total of 260 battalions for overseas service. Yet the four Divisions of the Canadian Corps maintained only 48 battalions at the front. The vast majority of the battalions sent to England were either broken up to supply reinforcements for units already at the front or reconstituted for duties such as forestry or pioneer work. But all these battalions went through the process of recruiting, training, and working up in Canada before going overseas, thereby developing their own unit personality, traditions, and esprit de corps. These were all lost when the unit was broken up. The drum, of course, had been a long standing part of the military retinue, used for beating time on the march and the drum corps formed an important part of a unit’s musical ensemble. The drums bore the unit’s crest and, stacked on top of one another, occupied a prominent place on such special unit occasions as church parade and the presentations of the colours. Thus, the drums were an important component of a unit’s symbolism and sense of tradition. Any that survive from the disbanded battalions would constitute a tactile reminder of fervently developed, but ultimately lost, traditions and esprit de corps. In June the CWM took possession of a drum from one of these lost units, the 207th Battalion, which is interesting not only for what it represents in itself, but for the poignant story associated with the drummer who originally played it—William Garvin.
Fernberg, Eric "Great War Legacy: A Drum from the 20th Battalion." Canadian Military History 15, 3 (2006)