Writer Lyndsie Bourgon wrote about the dying tradition of military bugling in the June-July 2014 issue of Canada’s History magazine. Here is an excerpt from her article:
Buglers were often boys as young as twelve. Douglas Williams of the Queen’s Own Rifles was a young teenager — and just five feet tall — when he blew the bugle to sound the charge during the 1900 Battle of Paardeberg, South Africa, during the Boer War. He later recalled: “Four times I did it and the last time we were moving forward so rapidly that I was stumbling as I pumped out the notes.”
Buglers haven’t been used extensively in combat since the Boer War. By the time of the First World War, the call of the bugle could scarcely be heard over heavy artillery bombardments — combat had simply become too loud. But cavalry units — themselves obsolete by this time — still employed buglers to sound orders to charge and retreat. In the heroic charge of the Canadian Cavalry Brigade at Moreuil Wood, France, on March 30, 1918, the bugle call to announce the charge was reportedly silenced by German fire before it was even sounded.
Today, bugle calls have been relegated to ceremonial obligations, especially Remembrance Day ceremonies and funerals. In Afghanistan, bagpipers accompanied Canada’s fallen soldiers as they were lifted out of Kandahar Airfield — but buglers or trumpeters were not always available. The changing of the guard still takes place on Parliament Hill to the accompaniment of bugles, an event with much ceremony and pomp. To many, that is what bugles have become — simply pomp.
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See this video to hear “Last Post” and “Rouse.”
And here is a video of the Andrews Sisters singing “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” in the 1941 Abbot and Costello film entitled Buck Privates.