The Drum Major’s Sash – The True Face of the Royal Canadian Artillery Band
By Captain Chris Embree
Whenever you see The Royal Canadian Artillery Band proudly marching down the street the first thing that people see is the Drum Major carrying the Mace and wearing a colourful Sash. Although the Mace is intriguing and one often wonders what it is used for, it is the Drum Major’s Sash that brings to life the true essence of the Regiment. The Sash signifies the Regimental Colours and bears the title “The Royal regiment of Canadian Artillery”.The Sash also contains the Queen’s Crown and Royal Cypher, a symbol of sovereignty, and finishes with the Full Achievement of the Regimental badge.
As The Royal Canadian Artillery Band prepares for Mounting the Queen’s Guard at Buckingham Palace on 18 Jun 2017 it was felt that a new Drum Major’s Sash was in order to compliment the new Ceremonial Dress that will be worn. The Drum Major Sashes that the band currently has are in various degrees of condition and for the most part made incorrectly. The Crown and Royal Cypher that adorns the top of the sash holds the highest importance, none of the current holdings were constructed in this manner. The French translation of the Regiment’s name is also completed incorrectly which in a way brings dishonour to the Regiment. When The RCA Band marches onto the World Stage in London we need to have every detail correct.
In this connection, the Band very much appreciates the financial support of the wider Regiment. Particular thanks are due to Lieutenant-Colonel Mike McKay, Honorary Colonel of 11th Field Regiment RCA and the Artillery Support Group from Guelph. Also most gratifying was the manner in Colonels Tim Bishop, Stéphane Boucher, Stéphane Dubois, Mark Hodgson, Greg Ivey, Marc Lafortune, Terry Leigh, Stéphane Masson, Liam McGarry and Mike Sullivan quickly responded to an appeal from the Colonel Commandant to raise the balance of the monies need to procure a sash of appropriate high quality – one which will reflect creditably on the Band, the Regiment and our Country for many years to come.
The Road to Vimy – 100th Anniversary Celebrations, The Royal Canadian Artillery Band
By Capt Chris Embree
It was considered the Birth of a Nation when on Apr 9th 1917 Canadian soldiers stormed the ridge and secured that important strategic location and the path to victory against German forces. Now 100 years later The Royal Canadian Artillery Band along with the Royal 22nd Regiment Band, the Pipes & Drums of 3rd Canadian Division and CAF Honour Guard will embark to Vimy France to honour the soldiers who so bravely fought for our nation and to celebrate the past 100 years of Canadian history in the name of freedom. The Royal Canadian Artillery Band is proud to represent the Regiment and to honour and pay tribute to the importance the artillery played during the battle.
The Road to Vimy begins in Trenton, ON on 31 March 2017 where the entire CAF Contingent will form. Rehearsals for each segment of the celebrations will be staged and worked out in full detail, not unlike the rehearsals and preparations leading up to the fearsome battle 100 years ago. The bands and guard not having performed together will have 2 days to perfect music and ceremonial drill before departing to Vimy. The contingent continues the journey on 3-4 April 2017 flying over the Atlantic Ocean in a mere 8 hours compared to the lengthy 5 days it would have taken 100 years ago. Final on site preparation and rehearsals will take place to refine and fine tune the various performances. In the midst of the deployment The RCA Band along with the rest of the contingent will be treated to a Battle Field tour and tour of the Vimy site by Dr. Harris himself. This will be an experience to remember as it will bring to life the true nature of Canada’s contribution to the war.
The Royal Canadian Artillery Band will be involved in three separate performances while over in Vimy, France. The first performance is on 07 Apr 2017 in the City of Arras where the RCA Band will join forces with the Royal 22nd Regiment Band, the Pipes & Drums of the 3rd Canadian Division and the local Brass Band. The performance will be a spectacular outdoor Tattoo and will feature combined music and solo acts. The second performance is the Sunset Ceremony on the evening of 08 Apr 2017 at the Vimy Monument. The Pipes & Drums of the 3rd Canadian Division and the RCMP Honour Guard will also join in this historic performance. The audience will be delighted to the Beating of the Retreat, the Feu de joie, the playing of the Evening Hymn and Sunset and the lowering of the national flags of Canada and France. The third and final performance and the true reason for being in Vimy is the 100th Anniversary Celebrations taking place on 09 Apr 2017 at the Vimy monument. 100 years ago to the day Canada stood victorious over the relentless German forces. On this day we will once again stand tall and proud for what Canada stood for and the accomplishments over the past 100 years. The celebrations from start to finish will be a 6 hour long spectacle with the Canadian Military Contingent marching on to participate in the final 3 hours. It will be a spectacular celebration honouring Canadian soldiers that fought and died for freedom and to honour and celebrate Canada’s achievements over the past 100 years. The ceremony will be a once in a lifetime chance to experience and will resonate for years to come as we move into the next 100 years.
The Road to Vimy comes to a close at the conclusion of the 100th Anniversary Celebrations and the return home. The RCA Band will be able to look back and reflect on the sacrifices, accomplishments and achievements of so many, never to forget.
Canada 150, Buckingham Palace and the Queen’s Guard – The Royal Canadian Artillery Band
By Captain Chris Embree
On 18 Jun 2017 The Royal Canadian Artillery Band and the 2nd Battalion PPCLI will march proudly in full Scarlets and RCA Ceremonial Dress onto the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace to mount the Queen’s Guard. It was many months ago when the Queen herself asked if the Canadians would mount Public Duties at Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle honouring Canada’s 150th Birthday.
Fast forward to February 2017 and planning was in full swing with the completion of a TAC Recce in London. Myself and my Band Sergeant Major, MWO Dan Keels, carried out an insightful 3 days of learning what it means to mount the Queen’s Guard. Having boots on the ground was very rewarding as we acquired numerous details needed for the task ahead. When not being chauffeured around by our UK friends we were treated to all things British including fine pub food and the many choices of refreshments. Within the planning and preparations a full new set of RCA Ceremonial Dress is being tailored as we speak. This will surely heighten the pomp and circumstance surrounding our first mounting of the Queen’s Guard.
Prior to deploying to London The RCA Band will perform along side the Battalion for the Consecration of their new Colour in Shilo, MB. The RCA Band will again return to Shilo for two weeks of work-up training for mounting Public Duties directed by members of the UK House Hold Division. This will provide the contingent with a safe environment to work out all the details prior to parading on the world stage at Buckingham Palace.
The RCA Band’s involvement while in London will include a number of performances. It all starts with the Beating of the Retreat at Horse Guards Parade on 14-15 Jun 2017 where The RCA Band will take center stage performing with the five Guards Bands of the House Hold Division. It will be an impressive sight of music and celebration. The performance will feature a very moving piece titled “Passchendaele”, in reference to the battle, that will include the piling of the drums and the placement of two World War heritage drums, one British and one Canadian, atop of the drum alter symbolizing the collaborative efforts of our two great nations. The RCA Band along with our counter parts the Royal Artillery Band will perform for Her Majesty’s Birthday Celebrations as part of the Gun Salute in Green Park on 17 Jun 2017. The main focus of our time in London will be mounting the Queen’s Guard and Windsor Castle Guard from 18 Jun to 03 July 2017. During that time when the RCA Band is mounting the New Guard at Buckingham Palace a bugler will be tasked to perform the Last Post at the Tower of London at the strike of the first bell at 2200 hrs.
To celebrate Canada Day there are plans for the RCA Band to perform at Trafalgar Square in the afternoon to help bring life to this special day all the way across the pond. There are other performances in the works in support of Canada 150 Celebrations for Canadian officials and Military Personnel in London.
It will once again be a great honour for The RCA Band to represent the Regiment while marching proudly down the streets of London and on the Forecourt of Buckingham Palace.