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2nd February 2004Bugle Calls
By David Gardner
I've just come across an 1890 recording of a bugler from the Light Brigade sounding the charge, as it was in 1854 on a bugle from Waterloo!
I've tried to find a recording of" the alert" that would have sounded at Isandhlwana on Pulleine's orders after discovery of the main impi. I
've found the mounted infantry alert, but this is different to what I heard in Zulu Dawn.
Does anyone know if the film is correct?

2nd February 2004John Young

I've got the notes to bugle call "The Alert", from the 'Field Exercise, 1877' manual, not being able to read music I can't say if it fits the bill.

I'm happy to scan you a copy, if that's any use.

John Y.
2nd February 2004David Gardner
Thanks John-but can't read music myself, so it wouldn't do me any good.I was just wondering if this was what the men actually would have heard at the camp that fateful day.In Zulu Dawn it's an exciting part of the film, the men being stirred into action
2nd February 2004David Gardner
John, I just received my copy of Hill Of The Sphinx in this morning, and noticed that a lot of the pictures are fron the John Young collection.Is this you?
2nd February 2004John Young

Yes, that's me.

John Y.
2nd February 2004David Gardner
Fine collection of pictures John! I especially like the one of Lord Chelmsford. Must admit to going over the pictures with a magnifying glass!
16th February 2004Mike McCabe
The 'Alert' is a Naval 'pipe' usually sounded in connection with morning colours, or to alert a side party/guard to a launch or pinnace coming alongside. The British Army bugle call 'Alarm' is perhaps what you mean. There are a few CDs providing comprehensive collctions of bugle calls. Try: Though many calls have been updated in the late 1800s; most of the main operational callsused to direct company and battalion tactics can be traced back to the trumpet or bugle horn versions of the late 18th and early 19th centuries (in some cases earlier still).
16th February 2004John Young

No we actually mean "The Alert", not "The Alarm", too much sun on the head at Isandlwana?

I can forward the music for the Bugle Sound "The Alert" if you need it, from an 1877 Manual.

John Y.
17th February 2004Mike McCabe
It actually rained most of the time.

I stand partly corrected, but (regardless) as a field call 'the alert' would not have the same purpose as 'the alarm' - which I would imagine is also in your 1877 manual. So, my question to you would be what is the officially declared purpose of 'the alert'.
17th February 2004John Young

Chapter and verse: 'Field Exercise, 1877', page 92, 'Part II. - Company - Extended Order' -
'The Alert implies unexpected danger; when it sounds, the men in movement will at once halt, and wait for further orders.
When moving by sound of bugle, men will wait till the bugle has ceased before they move.
Only men extended will act on bugle sounds; a support will invariably move by word of its commander.'

'The Alarm' is not included in this manual, I believe that is actually in 'Infantry Bugle Sounds, 1877', which I don't have.

For an excellent rendering of 'The Alarm', I recommend the 1930's film 'Gunga Din'.

I scan you the calls if you'd like, if you can lay hands on a bugler, then maybe that can resolve the original question.

Should have stayed in Chatham, the weather was fine there.

John Y.
17th February 2004David Gardner
I believe in Zulu Dawn, Pulleine orders the bugler to "sound the alert"
17th February 2004David Gardner
I think I'm a wee bit a ahead here-the link you gave me was for to buy the bugle call.
If you want to hear them for FREE,
go to
17th February 2004Keith Smith

I have heard this story of rain on the 22nd January 1879 at Isandlwana before, but I have seen no contemporary evidence for it. Do you have any?

18th February 2004Mike McCabe

Even in these changed times, I've no intention of laying my hands on a bugler!