The Regimental Colours

THE REGIMENTAL COLOURS

BATTLE HONOURS

The Regiment inherited from the former Regiments a total of 299 Battle Honours. Of these the following are emblazoned on the Colours:

Namur, 1695″, “Blenheim”, Ramilies”, “Oudenarde”, Malplaquet”, “Dettingen”, “Louisberg”, “Minden”, “Quebec, 1759”, “Martinique, 1762”, “Havannah”, “Martinique, 1794”, “Seringapatam”, “Corunna”, “Talavera”, “Albuhera”, “Badajoz”, “Salamanca”, “Vittoria”, “Peninsula”, “Bladensburg”, “Waterloo”, “Ava”, “Ghuznee, 1839”, “Khelat”, “Cabool, 1842”, “Moodkee”, “Ferozeshah”, “”Sobraon”, “New Zealand”, “Goojerat”, “Punjaub”, “South Africa, 1851-53”, “Inkerman”, “Sevastopol”, “Lucknow”, “Taku Forts”, “Afghanistan, 1878-80”, “South Africa, 1879”, “Nile, 1884-85”, “Tirah”, “Atbara”, “Khartoum”, “Paardeberg”, “Defence of Ladysmith”, “South Africa, 1899-1902”, “Mons”, “Le Chateau”, “Marne, 1914”, “Aisne, 1914,1918”, “Ypres, 1914, 1915, 1917, 1918”, “Neuve Chappelle”, “Loos”, “Somme, 1916, 1918″, Arras, 1917, 1918″, Cambria, 1917, 1918”, “France and Flanders, 1914-18”, “Macedonia, 1915-18”, “Gallipoli, 1915-16”, “Gaza”, “Palestine, 1917-18”, “Shaiba”, “Mesopotamia, 1914-18”, “St. Omer-La Bassee”, “Dunkirk, 1940”, “Normandy Landing”, “Brieux Bridgehead”, “Venraij”, “N.W. Europe, 1940, 1944-45”, “Tobruk, 1941”, “Defence of Alamein Line”, “North Africa, 1940-43”, “Villa Grande”, Salerno”, “Anzio”, “Cassino I, II”, “Gothic Line”, “Italy, 1943-45”, “Crete”, “Singapore Island”, “Malaya, 1941-42”, “Yu”, “Ngakyedauk Pass”, “Imphal”, “Kohima”, “Chindits, 1944”, “Burma, 1943-45”, “Korea,1951-53”.

 

The Colours of a Regiment were carried into battle and paraded in front of the troops so that they could be recognised and used as a rallying point and were defended from falling into enemy hands at all costs. Today they are paraded on ceremonial occasions and treated with great pride and respect.

The Queen’s Colour, always paraded on the right and based on the Union Flag, carries Battle Honours awarded to the Regiment’s forebearers in World War I and II.

The dark blue Regimental Colour carries Battle Honours from before World War 1 and after World War II. The Colours are replaced every 25 years or when the Regiment receives a new Battle Honour.

British troops last carried Colours into action in 1881 in the First Boer War, and although their practical use ended with their disappearance from the battlefield, they still retained enormous symbolic importance. For they were always more than simply functional. They embodied the unit’s prestige and esprit de corps, and for this reason their loss in battle was regarded as a disgrace while the capture of enemy colours (or French eagles!) was a particular triumph. They bore the names of battles in which the regiment had distinguished itself. This practice began relatively late, and earlier battle honours were granted retrospectively.

When new colours are presented the old colours are hung in the respective Churches or Cathedrals. The Cathedral in Norwich and St. Mary’s Church in Bury St Edmunds are the spiritual resting place in East Anglia for the 1st Battalion colours going back many years. There they hang, gradually, in the tradition of old soldiers, fading away in their honourable retirement. Many of the people who walk beneath them give them little thought, but a poet catches the contrast between these tattered remnants and the former glory of their silk and braid.

 

A moth eaten rag on a worm eaten pole

It does not look likely to stir a man’s soul’

Tis the deeds that were done ‘neath the moth eaten rag

When the pole was a staff and the rag was a flag.

E Hanley

The Colours are always kept in the Officers’ Mess and are normally stored in their cases in the Silver Room. If not required for parades or display in any week they are to be uncased and hung vertically to air for one day during the week.

The Colours are customarily displayed in the Mess on the following occasions:

– Regimental Guest Nights.
– Any formal Ball when evening dress (black tie or equivalent) is worn.
– All luncheon parties when the Band is present.
– All receptions of an official nature, for example when the Mess is entertaining on joining a station, or following a Beating of Retreat.

The Colours are customarily displayed in the Dining room but may be placed elsewhere, for example in the entrance hall of the Mess for receptions, at the discretion of the Commanding Officer.

The Colours are placed on display with the Queen’s Colour paraded right, the pike of the Regimental Colour in front.

The Colours are uncased and placed on display by the Battalion Orderly Officer who is also responsible for securing them at night.

When the Colours are to be displayed in the Warrant Officers’ and Sergeants’ Mess they are to be accompanied by an Ensign to the Colour nominated by the Adjutant. The Escorts are offered refreshment before the Colours are removed from the Silver Room. It is the custom for the refreshment to be champagne; one bottle only is customarily charged to Ensigns.

When the Colours are on parade, the Colour Party are to be offered a drink on returning the Colours to the Mess, whether after rehearsals or the actual parade. In the case of the actual parade only, champagne should be drunk. One bottle of champagne should be charged to Ensigns.

When possible the Colours and silver will be displayed to soldiers on joining the Battalion. This would normally be done during a visit to the Officers Mess.

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