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From the Collection of Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village 89 Merri Street Warrnambool Victoria

Bugle, silver, with brass mouthpiece. Presented to the Warrnambool Volunteer Corps. on 18-6-1861 by the Warrnambool Ladies. It is made from long tube of metal, narrow at the mouth end and gradually flaring to a wider at the bell shape at the other end. The tube is shaped into 3 bends. The front of the bell has an elaborate design of a ribbon banner attached above an oval floral wreath enclosing an inscription. The outer rim of the bell has an impressed ancient Greek geometric border.
W 26 x H 47 x D 17cm
Attached Files
Object Registration
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Historical information
A bugle is a simple, light weight, musical instrument belonging to the ‘brass’ group of instruments and played by blowing air into the mouthpiece. A variety of notes can be obtained by changing the shape of the bugler’s lips when blowing – there are no valves. The flared shape of the tube gives a very mellow sound.

Bugles have been used for hundreds of years for communicating instructions, particularly in battles, and announcements such as calls to assemble and various other routines of the day, particularly for infantry and military units. Historic records show that a bugle was used for military signals at Hanover in 1758. In more modern times the bugle is most often used for ceremonial purposes, and as a symbol in the Rifles corps.

This beautiful silver bugle has been described by one reporter as “… of pure silver, and is a most exquisite piece of colonial workmanship”. It was presented to the Warrnambool Rifle Volunteers by Lady Helpman, on behalf of the Ladies of the District of Warrnambool, on June 18th, 1861. Lady Helpman’s husband, Captain Benjamin Franklin Helpman, was appointed as Warrnambool Harbourmaster that same year and performed the role until 1869. In 1869 he also became a collector of Customs.

The gift of this silver bugle was presented to commanding officer of the Warrnambool Volunteer Rifle Corps., Captain Bushe, who then passed it on to the Warrnambool Volunteer Band’s Bugler Corrigan.

On 11th August 2016, in a well-attended ceremony at Flagstaff Hill, the Australian Army handed over custodianship of two very significant historical items - the 1885 W. Clarke Trophy and the 1861 Warrnambool Ladies Silver Bugle – to Warrnambool City Council, and Flagstaff Hill Maritime Village, who proudly received them. Both the W. Clarke Trophy and the silver bugle are strongly connected to the Warrnambool Garrison, a Victorian State Heritage Listed site at Flagstaff Hill.

Below is the transcription of the very inspiring and emotional presentation ceremony of 1861, as reported in The Warrnambool Examiner, Friday 21st June 1861 …


When we chronicled last month the enthusiastic manner in which the Warrnambool Volunteers celebrated the natal day of their beloved sovereign [Queen Victoria born 24th May 1819], we were correct in saying that it was the most successful gathering in this town, but successful as it was, it must give way to the demonstration on Tuesday last [18th June 1861], when the ladies of Warrnambool presented a silver bugle to the corps.

The weather during the fore part of the day was very threatening, and it was fully anticipated the ceremony would have to be held in the Temperance Hall, which was prepared in readiness for the occasion. Whether, however, Captain Bushe had made special arrangements with the clerk of the weather, we cannot say, but certain it is that just before the volunteers mustered “Old Sol” “turned out” in fine style, and kept a bright face during the remainder of the day.

At two o’clock, p.m., the company assembled in front of the Municipal Council Chambers, and, preceded by the band, Captain Bushe, and Mr. Drill Instructor Bernard, and accompanied by a large concourse of spectators, marched down Timor Street to the parade ground, which presented an exceedingly gay appearance. A large arch of flags was erected on a rising part of the ground, and a tent for the ladies, and refreshment tents afforded shelter in case the weather should have been unpropitious. The volunteers were then put through various manoeuvers, including forming into squares, marching and counter-marching to various points, indicated by flags, and each time on passing the band, the musicians played popular airs. After some time being spent in this manner, the volunteers were marched up in front of the ladies’ tent, were formed in a hollow square, and presented arms. At this point of the proceedings the spectators at the rear of the volunteers kept pressing forward with so much ardour, that it was almost impossible for the latter to keep in perfect line. Mrs. Helpman, lady of Lieutenant Helpman R.N., now appeared on a platform in front of the tent, accompanied by Mrs. Breton, lady of Dr. Breton, the surgeon to the corps. Mrs. Helpman then proceeded to read the following address, after which she handed the bugle to Captain Bushe, who in turn handed the beautiful present to Bugler Corrigan. The instrument is of pure silver, and is a most exquisite piece of colonial workmanship:
- - - -
Captain Bushe, Officers, Non-commissioned Officers, and Gentlemen of the Warrnambool Rifle Company.

It is my pleasing duty to convey to you in the name of the ladies of this District their high appreciation of your patriotism as Citizen Soldiers of Victoria.

I feel proud of the honor of being commissioned this day to present you in their names this SILVER BUGLE, inscribed with the motto –
“Armed for the Right,” feeling confident that should its notes ever summon you to the defence of the land of our adoption, it will ever be found the rallying point for you, the national guardians of our “Hearths and Altars.”

The anniversary of a glorious victory obtained by a British army, in defence of the liberties of the World, has been chosen for this occasion, as calling to mind the valor of our sires, and as showing that “Armed for the Right,” you must always be triumphant. [Battle of Waterloo, Belgium June 18, 1815, defeat Napoleon Bonaparte.]

I now commit this bugle to your charge, relying upon your Patriotism, Valor, and Honor.
“May God protect Her Majesty.”
- - - -
After a short pause Captain Bushe, with considerable emotion, replied as follows:
- - - -
To you, Mrs. Helpman, and the ladies in whose names you have presented to us this bugle, on behalf of the Warrnambool Volunteers, I return my sincere thanks. A gift as handsome and so valuable reflects honor on the givers as well as the receivers, and tells far better than ever could words of mine of your good taste, your liberality, and your kindness.

That so many fair women should pay us this compliment is indeed something to be proud of, and as a mark of your approbation, and as a graceful recognition of our services in arming for the defence of our Queen and adopted country, will, I trust, make us more steadfast in the cause we have espoused, and induce others to follow in our footsteps.

The confidence with which you rely on our patriotism, our courage, and our readiness to defend you, I hope, will never be misplaced, and if the time should ever come when the notes of this bugle will be heard amidst the din of war, then, I am confident (and I say it without boasting), that the Warrnambool Volunteers – “Armed for the Right” – will be found manfully fighting, whilst life remains in them; and, if needs be, laying down that life in defence of their homes, their liberties, and those that are most dear to them.

Ladies, this day is one that will long be remembered by us; ‘twill be, as it were, a halting place in memory, to which we will look back with gratification, and with pride; and, if the day of actual warfare I have just spoken of should arrive, then will be recollection of it, and of the bright eyes now beaming on us, nerve us to deeds of daring and of valor – deeds that will make us still more deserving of your esteem - more worthy of your reliance and your trust.

Again, ladies, for myself and the members of my company, I thank you.
- - - -
Three hearty cheers were given by the volunteers for the ladies, and the former were allowed to ground arms and disperse for a few minutes. The assembly was soon sounded and briskly the volunteers responded to the “call of duty.” They were again exercised by Mr. Bernard, and delighted the spectators by firing in “extended skirmishing” order. The scene at this juncture looked peculiarly interesting and gay. The sun was shining out most beautifully. In the centre of the ground were some hundreds of spectators, while on the heights the volunteers appeared at various intervals engaged in advancing and retiring, and apparently in close engagement with an enemy. We much regret that no photographist was on the ground with an apparatus, for such a picture would have been worth taking, and would have formed an elegant souvenir of the day. “All things must have an end,” and at last the volunteers assembled in sections of four deep, and in that order marched to the front of the Council Chambers, where they were dismissed, each man impressed with the pleasant satisfaction that he had “done his duty.”

In the evening a re-union took place at Wall’s Family Hotel, at which upwards of fifty ladies and gentlemen were present. The affair was quite impromptu, not a word being spoken of it until the afternoon, and yet it was the happiest party we have seen in the district. Everybody appeared determined to enjoy themselves, and the arrangements for the supper &c., were most creditable to Host Wall, who gave an excellent spread, considering the short time at his disposal. The company did not separate until about four o’clock in the morning.

In concluding our remarks we cannot but compliment the Warrnambool Volunteers on their appearance, even although we may be open to the charge of egotism, seeing that we belong to the corps also. The great improvement which the volunteers show is to be attributed greatly to the untiring exertions of Mr. Drill Instructor Bernard. Since he arrived in this District, the corps has almost doubled itself, and bids fair soon to become the leading one in the Western District. The number is now 85, including officers, band, &c. On Tuesday, the total number on the ground was 63, a fact which speaks well for the corps. The band at present consists of eleven performers, wo are rapidly improving under the fostering care of Bugler Corrigan, and we trust next summer the ladies of this district will be agreeably entertained by the performances of the Warrnambool Volunteer Band.

[REFERENCES: “1860 Warrnambool” photograph text, Picture Victoria, Corangamite Libraries; Bugle, Wikipedia; Presentation of a Silver Bugle, Warrnambool Examiner, 21st June 1861; Helpman, Benjamin Franklin (1814-1874); Australian Dictionary of Biography]
When Made
c. 1861
The Silver Bugle is locally significant to the community of Warrnambool for its connection to the Warrnambool Volunteer Rifle Corps., which formed part of the original Warrnambool Garrison to protect the Warrnambool Harbour. The site of the 1888 Warrnambool Garrison and Fortifications is Victorian State Heritage Listed significant for its intact and operational nature, and is one of the best preserved pieces of Victoria’s early colonial heritage.
Inscriptions & Markings
On ribbon banner “Armed for the Right”.
Within the wreath “TO THE / WARRNAMBOOL / VOLUNTEER RIFLE COMPANY / this tribute of due appreciation / is presented by / THE LADIES / of the District / Warrnambool 18th June / 1861”
Last updated
6 Jan 2020 at 10:50AM