The Drumhead ServiceFor centuries, those about to go into battle asked for divine help and guidance in what were known to be difficult times ahead. Because of the distances to be covered, and lacking any means of transport to take the soldiers to church, the Regimental Padre conducted the service in the field. This called for a platform upon which he could place his bible and other pieces of equipment he required to conduct a formal service. Lacking any other altar, the regimental drums were put into service by stacking them in layers which then served as a temporary altar.The first recorded use of the Drumhead for this purpose was documented in the 1700’s. It became a tradition. When Canada formed her first regiment in the 1800's, the practice was continued and still remains a part of Canada's military tradition. It was used not only for religious services it also became the table for court martial hearings in the field. Following the First World War, the British Empire Service League adopted the Drumhead Service in order to foster and keep alive a centuries old tradition. The Royal Canadian Legion continues this tradition today by conducting a Drumhead Service to pay homage to comrades who gave their lives in defence of our country.A Drumhead Service was held in Yarmouth on August 6, 1944. Soldiers at the Canadian Army Training Centre (Camp 60), the airmen stationed at RCAF Station Yarmouth (West Camp) and the navy personnel of the Fleet Air Arm Royal Navy (Telegraphist Air Gunner School) at RCAF Station Yarmouth (East Camp), marched from their various bases to the park located behind the Yarmouth Cenotaph where the service was held. On the bandstand, with the band behind, the drums were stacked and draped with the flag, from which the various military chaplains and local clergy conducted the service.
Personnel from East Camp marching down Parade St to Main St. The main floor of the building on the corner of Parade Street and Main Street served as the Red Cross Headquarters in Yarmouth during WWII.
Organizing the Navy personnel prior to the service
The three military groups: Fleet Air Arm (left); Canadian Army (center); RCAF (right)
Service from the bandstand with flag draped drums.