The Roubaix Drum
The Roubaix Drum. The Drum was one of those left behind by the 1st Battalion before Dunkirk but retrieved after D-Day. It was lost to sight in the 1950s but turned up on EBay when it was purchased for the Regimental Museum.
During the Allied retreat to Dunkirk the British Expeditionary Force was ordered to destroy all non-essential equipment, which included the instruments of the Band and the Drums.
Rather than destroy their Drums, the 1st Battalion the Suffolk Regiment handed them to the people of Roubaix for safe keeping. The French later moved them to a safe place in a hat factory, where they were hidden in hatboxes.
In 1944 the Battalion returned to the area after D-Day and towards Christmas the Commanding Officer sent a party to Roubaix to enquire after the Drums. Of the original eight Drums, three had survived the war and were retrieved although unfortunately one of them was later destroyed due to enemy action. The surviving Drums were played on the Battalion’s first ceremonial parade after D Day.
After the war the Drums were passed back into use by the Corps of Drums and eventually were replaced and disappeared from view.
In the early years of the 21st century however a Suffolk Regiment Drum appeared for sale on eBay, which was identified as one of the pre-war set; it was purchased and is now one of the Suffolk Regiment Museum’s most iconic artefacts.