Regimental Marches

The Regimental Quick March:
El Abanico

When the men of the Fort Garry Horse went over to England as part of the 6th Battalion, C.E.F, they traveled aboard the S.S. Lapland. The Lapland was an old Belgian Red Star Line ship, which had carried thousands of central European immigrants to Canada and the United States.

On the Lapland, the bandmaster discovered a library of music left by the German orchestra that had formerly played for the first class passengers. In it, was the orchestration of a stirring march entitled “El Abanico”. The fine swing of the tune appealed to him and he had the band learn it. Soon the lanes of rural England were to echo to this tune, mingled with the tramp of the marching feet of the Fort Garry Horse. The piece was adopted as the Regimental March and, as the words were not known, it was not long before the troopers had made their own.

Verse:

Roll up your blankets, ready for inspection
Here comes the Major bloke looking in my direction
Buttons and bootblack, somebody swiped me razor
Blooming great pack
Breaking me back;
Ain’t it grand!

Chorus:

We’d be far better off in the band;
We’d be far better off in the band;
Oh it is a lovely game,
Every day the same,
We’d be far better off in the band.

You hear that trumpet call?
It’s some poor blighter’s duty.
They tell you what to do,
With comments on yer beauty;
Eyes to the left! Stand firm there!

Verse:

We’ve got our orders, moving away at daybreak;
Nowhere and back again, oh don’t it make your heart ache?
Seems sort of stupid, wearing the army’s boots out,
Walking around, spoiling the ground
Every day.

Loaded with a pack and a rifle; march and march again.
Halting in the dust and the sunshine; marching in the rain.
When we’re feeling footsore and weary, still the same old cry;
Left – Right – Left – Right – Keep in step.
We’ll rest in the sweet bye and bye.

The Fort Garry Horse Trumpet Call

In earlier times, trumpet and bugle calls were used to relay orders in the field. Trumpets could be heard over the noise of battle and an extensive series of calls were written covering tactical movements and camp routines.

If more than one unit was in the area, a specific regimental call would precede the order played by the trumpeter. This is the Fort Garry Horse call, still used on ceremonial occasions to identify the Regiment.

The Regimental Slow March:
Red River Valley

“Red River Valley” was adopted as the Slow March in the autumn of 1960 by the Regular Regiment. The tune was a favorite of the CO, Lt. Col. J.C. Gardner, and was arranged by Captain James Gayfer, the Bandmaster of the Canadian Guards.

Alternate Regimental Quick March:
St. Patrick’s Day

“St. Patrick’s Day” was the Regimental March of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards (now Royal Dragoon Guards). It was adopted as an alternate march for the Fort Garry Horse when the two units were allied in 1926 (ref : General Order Number 8 1926).

The Fort Garry Horse Museum and Archives