Beating of the Retreat

The ceremony took place just in front of the Rams Supermarket area and got underway at about 5:00 pm and included members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Force and the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force.pf

The officers on parade lined the street and performed a number of ceremonial drills and followed various commands which were made by voice but also by the drums of the Defense Force Band.

The parade then made its way towards the Port Zante area, where more drills took place. The units then returned to the Bay Road, eventually wrapping up at sunset, with the playing of the National Anthem of St. Kitts and Nevis.

The Beating of the Retreat Ceremony is a military one, dating back to the 16th century in England and it was first used in order to recall nearby patrolling units to their castle.

Originally it was known as watch setting and was initiated at sunset by the firing of a single round from the evening gun.

An order from the army of James II (England), otherwise known as James VII of Scotland, dated to 18 June 1690, where he had his drums beating an order for his troops to retreat.

A later order, from William III in 1694 read, “The Drum Major and Drummers of the Regiment which gives a Captain of the Main Guard, the order to beat the Retreat through the large street, or as may be ordered. They are to be answered by all the Drummers of the guards and by four Drummers of each Regiment in their respective Quarters”. However, either or both orders may refer to the ceremonial tattoo.

Thursday’s ceremony in Basseterre took place as part of the Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee Celebrations and will have a repeat on Monday.

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