The Colours never meant so much as they did on Friday 19 June 2009 when the Colours of 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (4 RAR) were marched off the parade ground and in effect, marched off the battlefield.
What made the eyes of the seasoned and veteran soldiers of 4 RAR in attendance well up with tears when they witnessed the Queen’s and Regimental Colours of 4 RAR being marched away?
The Colours represent our battalion, our soldiers, our families and our history. We have seen the Colours on parade many times and many of the old and bold of the Battalion present were on the Adelaide Cricket Oval in 1964 when the Colours were presented to 4 RAR. We had always felt that tingle down our spines when the Colours were marched onto the parade ground, when they were saluted and when Point of War was played but never was such emotion displayed as when the Colours were marched off on Friday 19 June 2009, bringing an end to an era, but not an end to the history of one of the proudest battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR).
Originally it had been directed by the Chief of Army (CA) that: “Additionally the CA has directed in the spirit of its awarding to the Commandos serving as part of the Special Operations Task Group (Task Force 637), the Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG) is to be removed from the 4 RAR colours and retained by 2 Cdo Regt on behalf of all 4 RAR (Cdo) Afghanistan veterans.” Never before in the history and traditions of Colours and never in the short history of Australian unit honours, has an honour been removed from the Colours of one unit and given to another, in this case from 4 RAR to the newly raised 2nd Commando Regiment (2 Cdo Regt). 4 RAR was not being removed from the Order of Battle and therefore 4 RAR still exists, albeit in name only, but it still retained the right to its honours earned on the battlefield.
After a desperate battle by the combined 4 RAR Associations of Australia led by Alan Price, the President of the 4 RAR Association, Qld, the Chief of Army reversed his original decision that the newly formed 2 Cdo Regt be handed the award of the Unit Citation for Gallantry originally awarded to 4 RAR and the members of 4 RAR on the battlefield.
“The Chief of Army has reviewed his original direction regarding the ownership of the UCG and has provided the following direction in 'CA Directive 24/09 Approval to make changes to 4 RAR (Cdo) and raise 2 Cdo Regt as a unit on the Army Order of Battle' dated 16 Jun 09:
a. Unit Citation for Gallantry. The Unit Citation of Gallantry (UCG) awarded to 4 RAR (Cdo) during Operation Slipper will be retained by 4 RAR. Those members that won the UCG will continue to wear the award in perpetuity, regardless of the unit to which they are posted.
b. History and Memorabilia. 2 Cdo Regt is authorised to assume the 'Commando' history and memorabilia associated with 4 RAR (Cdo) less the UCG. SOHQ, in consultation with the unit, HOC R Inf and the various ex-service associations, is to oversee the identification of items of historical significance to both 2 Cdo Regt and 4 RAR and to arrange for their proper accounting and transfer. This should include unit memorials and honour rolls.”
4 RAR quite rightly and lawfully now retains the Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG) awarded to 4 RAR (Cdo) and the Streamer for the award remains attached to the Regimental Colour. This means that the history of the nation and the history of 4 RAR will record that 4 RAR was awarded the Unit Citation for Gallantry in Afghanistan whilst employed as a commando battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment and that soldiers marching into 4 RAR in the future will wear the individual citation emblem of the award of the Unit Citation for Gallantry on their right breast in honour of the unit, 4 RAR and the valiant and courageous efforts of the 4 RAR (Cdo) soldiers who fought so well during Operation Slipper in Afghanistan in 2006. We are all so very proud of all them. The citation and the streamer will now remain a proud, visual record of the battlefield achievements of 4 RAR and all who have served and all who will serve in 4 RAR and the proud history of the Battalion that rightfully belongs to them.
The 4 RAR Honour Rolls that honour those who were killed in action between 1964 and 2009 with 4 RAR will retain those names.
There may still be some answers required as to the assuming of the ”commando history and memorabilia associated with 4 RAR (Cdo)" to determine exactly what is meant by that, but we may be assured that the history of the 4th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment includes that history from 01 February 1964 when 4 RAR was first raised in Adelaide, SA to 19 June 2009 when the members of 4 RAR (Cdo) marched out to form 2 Cdo Regt at Holsworthy, NSW. That history will continue when the Battalion again physically takes its place beside the other proud battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment.
4 RAR still remains a battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment on the Order of Battle but without personnel and equipment. The Colours of 4 RAR have not been laid up but have been placed in the hands of the School of Infantry for safe keeping so that new Infantry soldiers prior to being posted to the battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment, will have the opportunity to see them.
The newly raised 2 Cdo Regt will always have a place in our hearts and be part of the history of 4 RAR and indeed, the Royal Australian Regiment. They were born from 4 RAR and the RAR and we wish them God speed, good soldiering, great success, and a safe return from the challenges that lie ahead. They will meet those challenges with great acclaim, satisfaction and reward and with the knowledge that they also, may lay claim to being a “first”.
The badge and emblem of 2nd Commando Regiment.
The Latin “Foras Admonito” translates to “Without Warning”.
Click the image to enlarge.
2 Commando & RAR Cap Badges
The Acting RSM, 4 RAR (Cdo) passes the 4 RAR Colours to the School of Infantry for safekeeping. Note the green streamer for the UCG attached to the 4 RAR Regimental Colour at right.