Queen's & Regimental Colours
Submitted by : Alan Price
The colours of an Australian Infantry Regiment represent the spirit, traditions and history of the Regiment to which they belong.
The colours of an Australian Infantry Regiment represent the spirit, traditions and history of the Regiment to which they belong. They are valued, carefully guarded and always treated with respect.
The custom of carrying colours has its origin in ancient and medieval times when during battle, warrior factions carried flags bearing family badges or armorial bearings to show the positions of commanders and to serve as rallying points.
British military history is full of tales of men laying down their lives to protect or save the colours in battle and bullet holes and battle damage was never repaired but borne as a mark of distinction. Since 1754, Regiments have been allowed to carry only the Queens’ (or King’s) Colours and Regimental Colours. Although no longer carried in battle, the Colours remain a symbol of the Regiment, for on them are borne the battle honours granted in recognition of gallant deeds performed by its members.
Colours therefore become more a link with the Regiment’s past and a memorial to the fallen and thus take on a more mystical significance than as mere identifying markers on the battlefield. The Colours became the heart of the Regiment, in which all of its history is woven. Such is the significance that for a Regiment to lose its colours was (and still is) a major disgrace, with the capture of an enemy's Colours (or equivalent) being seen as a great honour. This is why whenever the colours are paraded, they are always escorted and paid the highest compliments by all soldiers and officers, second only to the sovereign herself. Uncased colours are always handled by armed escorts wearing gloves and all ranks salute uncased Colours.
When new colours are presented to a Regiment, the old ones are laid up in a Regimental chapel or church.
The Queen’s and Regimental Colours of 4RAR were presented by the then Governor General of Australia, The Right Honourable Viscount D'Lisle VC, KG, GCMG, GCVO, PC (Victoria Cross, Knight of the Garter, Knight Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Privy Counselor) on 11th April 1964.
2Lt Eli Quartermaine carried the Queen’s Colour and 2Lt Roger Wickham carried the Regimental Colour. Escorts to the Colours were Sergeant Denny Cook and Sergeant Horrie Bush.
Companies within the Battalion also have their own coloured flags. These flags are not afforded the same reverence as Regimental Colours, but merely depict the various identifying colours allotted to each company. Company tee shirts in company colours are often worn during physical training and inter company sports events.
"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."
The Original Queen’s and Regimental Colours of 4RAR
Draping the Colours on the piled drums prior to the Consecration of the Colours ceremony at Adelaide Oval on 11th April 1965.
Left to Right; Major Peter Scott, Sgt Denny Cook, RSM WO1 Paddy Brennan MBE, Sgt Horrie Bush and Major Kevin Cole.
Logistics Support Company
Operations Support Company
Each company has an identifying colour. They are the colours of company flags, company sportswear and company signage. In 4 RAR they also depicted the colour of “company drinks”. The old Support Company with the company colour of black, had the best drink, the black Rum and Coke while C Company had green Crème de Menthe and D Company was stuck with red Advocate and Cherry Brandy. They made for very interesting times in the Sergeants’ Mess at least.