German side drum: Bugler Valentine Flemming, Australian Naval and Miltary Expeditionary Force

Place Oceania: Pacific Islands, Bismarck Archipelago, New Britain, Gazelle Peninsula, Rabaul Area, Rabaul
Accession Number RELAWM08283
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Heraldry
Physical description Animal hide, Brass, Metal, Wood
Maker C.W. Moritz
Place made Germany
Date made c 1900s
Conflict First World War, 1914-1918

Side drum with the main body of the drum made from brass. A brass ring has been added to the top and bottom of the drum, each with 5 points attached to fit the drum tensioning screws. The outside of these rings have been painted with red and pale blue triangles. Two wooden bands have been fitted over the main body of the drum before the brass rings have been added. The brass rings have been secured with thin rope that has been threaded through the tensioning screw points and tied off.

The drum's five metal tensioning screws, which have triangular heads and threaded bottoms, are stored in a package tied to the drum. The vellum drum head has been rolled up and tied around the middle and to the side of the drum. A brass handle has been added to the bottom ring which is able to be folded almost flat against the side of the drum.

History / Summary

This drum was collected at Rabaul by 104 Bugler Valentine Flemming, a nineteen year old motor driver who enlisted in the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force (AN&MEF) on 12 August 1914.

The AN&MEF was raised to capture the German colonies in New Guinea after the outbreak of the First World War. Flemming was assigned to 'A' Company, 1 Tropical Battalion and sailed for New Britain on HMAT Berrima on 19 August. After service at Rabaul and Herbertshohe, Flemming returned to Australia and was discharged on 4 March 1915.
He left this side drum he had capatured with his mother Julia while he was at home in Sydney.

Nine days later he re-enlisted for service in the AIF and was allocated the service number 2262. Flemming was assigned, again as a bugler, to the 6th reinforcements for 4 Battalion and embarked for Egypt aboard HMAT A63 Karoola on 16 June.

After arrival there he was almost immediately sent to join his battalion at Gallipoli, arriving there on 4 August. He was killed soon afterwards during the Lone Pine offensive, between 6 and 9 August. Witnesses later said that he had been killed outright by a single shot, probably on 7 August, while in the second line of trenches to be captured from the Turks. Flemming has no known grave and is commemorated on the Lone Pine Memorial.

Two of Flemming's brothers also served at Gallipoli. Sixteen year old Private Geoffrey Lionel Flemming was killed on 16 June 1915 while serving with 2 Battalion, AIF. The eldest brother, Second Lieutenant Richard Alfred Flemming was wounded in the back at McLaurin's Hill on 13 May while serving with 4 Battalion. He eventually recovered and was repatriated to Australia in October 1915. He saw no further active service but later served as a sea transport officer.

Val Flemming's mother, Julia, donated this drum and the bugle (see RELAWM08284) to the Australian War Memorial in the name of her son, on 23 December 1925.