The Last Post is one of a number of bugle calls in military tradition which
mark the phases of the day. Where "Reveille" signaled the start of a soldier's
day, the "Last Post" signaled its end. It is believed originally to have been
part of a more elaborate routine, known in the British Army as "tattoo", that
had its origins in the 17th century. During the evening, a duty officer had to
do the rounds of his unit's position, checking that the sentry posts were manned
and rounding up the off-duty soldiers and packing them off to their beds or
billets. He would be accompanied by one or more musicians. The "first post" was
sounded when the duty officer started his rounds and, as the party proceeded
from post to post, a drum was played. The drum beats told off-duty soldiers it
was time to rest - if the soldiers were billeted in a town, the beats told them
it was time to quit the pubs. "Tattoo" is a derivation of doe den tap toe, Dutch
for "turn off the taps", a call which is said to have followed the drum beats in
many a Dutch pub while English armies were campaigning through Holland and
Flanders in the 1690s. (It is also from this routine that American practice of
"taps" or "drum taps" originated.) Another bugle call was sounded when the party
completed their rounds, when they reached the "last post": this signaled the
night sentries were alert at their posts and gave one last warning to any
soldiers still at large that it was time to retire for the evening. "Last Post"
was incorporated into funeral and memorial services as a final farewell and
symbolises that the duty of the dead is over and that they can rest in peace.
THE WORDS TO THE LAST POST
Come home! Come home! The last post is sounding
for you to hear. All good soldiers know very well there
is nothing to fear while they do what is right, and forget
all the worries they have met in their duties through the
year. A soldier cannot always be great, but he can be a
gentleman and he can be a right good pal to his comrades in
his squad. So all you soldiers listen to this – Deal fair by all
and you’ll never be amiss.
Be Brave! Be Just! Be Honest and True Men!
Information Courtesy of http://www.defence.gov.au