A little Ozzy Wednesbury Wench sent me something today and I had to share.
I did of course check this out but could only find the same story over & over again.
I have no way of verifying this information below, but even if the story has no foundation, it does lend a certain mystery to the tune “The Last Post”
“The Last Post”
If any of you have ever been to a military funeral in which The Last Post was played; this brings out a new meaning of it.
Here is something everyone should know.
We have all heard the haunting song, ‘The Last Post.’ It’s the song that gives us the lump in our throats and usually tears in our eyes.
But, do you know the story behind the song? If not, I think you will be interested to find out about its humble beginnings.
Reportedly, it all began in 1862 during the American Civil War, when Union Army Captain Robert Ellicombe was with his men near Harrison’s Landing in Virginia. The Confederate Army was on the other side of the narrow strip of land.
During the night, Captain Ellicombe heard the moans of a soldier who lay severely wounded on the field. Not knowing if it was a Union or Confederate soldier, the Captain decided to risk his life and bring the stricken man back for medical attention. Crawling on his stomach through the gunfire, the Captain reached the stricken soldier and began pulling him toward his encampment.
When the Captain finally reached his own lines, he discovered it was actually a Confederate soldier, but the soldier was dead.
The Captain lit a lantern and suddenly caught his breath and went numb with shock. In the dim light, he saw the face of the soldier. It was his own son.
The boy had been studying music in the South when the war broke out. Without telling his father, the boy enlisted in the Confederate Army.
The following morning, heartbroken, the father asked permission of his superiors to give his son a full military burial, despite his enemy status.His request was only partially granted.
The Captain had asked if he could have a group of Army band members play a funeral dirge for his son at the funeral. The request was turned down since the soldier was a Confederate.
But, out of respect for the father, they did say they could give him only one musician.
The Captain chose a bugler. He asked the bugler to play a series of musical notes he had found on a piece of paper in the pocket of the dead youth’s uniform.
This wish was granted.
The haunting melody, we now know as ‘The Last Post’ used at military funerals was born.
The words are:
Day is done.
Gone the sun.
From the lakes.
From the hills.
From the sky.
All is well.
God is nigh.
Dims the sight.
And a star.
Gems the sky.
Falls the night.
Thanks and praise.
For our days.
Neath the sun
Neath the stars.
Neath the sky
As we go.
This we know.
God is nigh
I too have felt the chills while listening to ‘The Last Post’ but I have never seen all the words to the song until now. I didn’t even know there was more than one verse. I also never knew the story behind the song and I didn’t know if you had either so I thought I’d pass it along.
I now have an even deeper respect for the song than I did before.
Remember Those Lost and Harmed While Serving Their Country.
Now I would love to believe that this story was true, because I like it! …. But …. as often happens, the truth is much less romantic.
Thanks to Dave Bourne, who posted to say he had found another (and more convincing) explanation:
It`s British Military Tradition dating back to the 17th Century ; – The Last Post was originally a bugle call used in British Army camps to signal the end of the day.
The name derives from the practice of inspecting all the sentry posts around such a camp at the end of the day, and playing a bugle call at each of them. The “last post” was thus the last point of this inspection, and the bugle call signalling that this post had been inspected marked the end of the military day.
This custom dates from at least the 17th century, and originated with British troops stationed in the Netherlands, where it drew on an older Dutch custom, called Taptoe. The Taptoe was also used to signal the end of the day, but has more prosaic origin. Taptoe originated signaling the moment that beer barrels had to be shut, hence that the day had ended. It comes from the Dutch phrase Doe den tap toe, meaning “Turn the tap off”.
During the 19th century, the Last Post was also carried to the various countries of the British Empire. In all these countries it has been incorporated into military funerals, where it is played as a final farewell, symbolising the fact that the duty of the dead soldier is over and that they can rest in peace.
The Last Post is used in public ceremonials commemorating the war dead, particularly on Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations (known as Veterans Day in the United States). In Australia and New Zealand it is also played on ANZAC Day.
Since 1928 the Last Post has been played every evening by buglers of the local fire brigade at the war memorial at Ieper (Ypres) in Belgium known as the Menin Gate, commemorating the British Empire dead at the Battle of Ypres during the First World War.
The only exception to this was during the four years of the German occupation of Ypres from 20 May 1940 to 6 September 1944, when the ceremony moved to Brookwood Cemetery in England.
On the evening that Polish forces liberated Ypres, the ceremony was resumed at the Menin Gate, in spite of the heavy fighting still going on in other parts of the town.
The Last Post was used by British forces in North America in colonial times, but its function was taken over in the United States by Taps, which has been used by the United States Army since 1862.
And yet another slightly varied explanation came from Malcolm Groom:
The “Last Post” call (2nd Post) is used in British Army camps to signal the end of the day when the duty officer returns from the tour of the camp and quarters. The call “First Post” is used to mark the start of the inspection. The name derives from the practice of inspecting all the sentry posts around such a camp at the end of the day, and playing a call at each of them. The “Last Post” was thus the last point of this inspection, and the call signalling that this post had been inspected marked the end of the military day.
In addition to its normal garrison use, the Last Post call had another function at the close of a day of battle. It signalled to those who were still out and wounded or separated that the fighting was done, and to follow the sound of the call to find safety and rest.
Its use in Remembrance Day ceremonies in Commonwealth nations has two generally unexpressed purposes: The first is an implied summoning of the spirits of the Fallen to the cenotaph, the second is to symbolically end the day so that the period of silence before the Rouse is blown becomes in effect a ritualized night vigil.
This custom dates from at least the 17th century, and originated with British troops stationed in The Netherlands, where it drew on an older Dutch custom, called taptoe, from which comes the term Tattoo as in Military tattoo, and also the term Taps.
The taptoe was also used to signal the end of the day, but has more prosaic origin. Taptoe originated signalling the moment that beer taps had to be shut, hence that the day had ended. It comes from the Dutch phrase Doe den tap toe, meaning “Turn the tap off”: however the Dutch “Taptoe” bugle call Taptoesignaal, now used for remembrance events, is not the same tune as the Last Post. Neither Last Post nor Taptoesignaal is to be confused with the US call “Taps”, which has a similar function but different tune and origin.
The “Last Post” was used by British forces in North America in colonial times, but its function was taken over in the United States by “Taps”, which has been used by the United States Army since 1862.
Well thank you very much Dave & Malcolm, for shattering the lovely romantic version for the explanation of “The Last Post”.
Remind me never to tell you about the Tortoise and how he came to have a shell!
You will just ruin that for me too! lol