Loss of Colours/Guidons

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by lancslad, Jun 6, 2007.

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  1. A previous thread made reference to the British Army's SOP of "lifting" French Eagles and other such like colours when the opportunity arose and retaining them to date regardless of various politicians bleating :D

    I'm just in the middle of a book on Waterloo and came across reference to the 69th Foot losing theirs to the French and with that started wondering the reverse of the earlier thread i.e.

    1. How many of our regiments have lost their colours/guidons to enemy action?

    2. Ref 1. - did the regiments ever get them back? If not who has them now?

    A third question was going to be which regiment was the last to cease carrying colours into action but as I now understand one regiment still continues to do so the question is redundant - any guesses on the regiment :D

  2. Not sure on the first two but an answer to your potential third question would be the Royal Artillery, there guns are their colours(or so they keep telling me), they have also lost them on a few occasions :p
  3. That's the answer I had as well. Any Gunners out there can provide an explan?

  4. The ACC, of old, actually gained their lanyard form the RA for taking over the guns in a battle, the RA's being replaced with a white one.
  5. Laing’s Nek 1881 is memorable as the last occasion that a British regiment took its colours into action. The 58th were led up the hillside by Lieutenant Baillie carrying the Regimental Colour and Lieutenant Hill carrying the Queen’s Colour. Baillie was mortally wounded while Hill won the Victoria Cross bringing casualties down from the hillside.

    Hill passed the two colours to Sergeant Budstock for safe keeping; a necessary concession to the realities of late 19th Century combat.

    The 58th became the 2nd Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment. The colours remained in service, carefully repaired, until the disbanding of the battalion after the Second World War and can be seen in the Regimental Museum in Abington Park, Northampton.
  6. (Not a wah.)

    So, do the Colours stay in the UK then? I'd heard tell that they did follow the regiments out to Iraq and Afghanistan, but were kept at a relevant HQ.

    Sounded spurious, but it's a nice idea.
  7. Not that load of old bawlocks again. :roll:
  8. Not RA however you may appreciate the info below, sounds like a Sapper joke to me. Or would that be a Sapper Double Bluff!? :? :p :lol: :wink:


    Origins of The Lanyard & The classic "Sapper Leg-pull"

    There has long been a tale-usually told by Sappers-about the Gunners wearing a white lanyard for cowardice, allegedly for deserting their guns. Of course, the story is nothing more than a piece of leg pulling. The tradition of ‘winding up’ stems from the age-old rivalry between the two ‘sister’ corps founded under the Board of Ordnance and trained together in Woolwich. However, I am still being asked by Gunners whether this story is true, so it is time it was put to rest.

    Lanyards associated with dress came into use in the late 19th Century, when field guns, such as the 12 and 15 pounders, used ammunition which had fuzes set with a fuze key. The key was a simple device, and every man had one, attached to a lanyard worn around the neck. The key itself was kept in the breast pocket until needed. The lanyard was a simple piece of strong cord, but it was gradually turned into something a bit more decorative, smartened up with ‘blanco’, and braided, taking its present form.

    Prior to the South African War, Gunners were issued with steel folding hoof picks, carried on the saddle or in the knife. In about 1903 these were withdrawn and replaced with jack knives, which were carried in the left breast pocket of the Service Dress attached to a lanyard over the left shoulder. In the war years that followed, the lanyard could be used as an emergency firing lanyard for those guns which had a trigger firing mechanism, allowing the gunner to stand clear of the gun’s recoil.

    The question of which shoulder bore the lanyard depends on the date. There is no certainty about this, but the change from the left shoulder to the right probably took place at about the time of the Great War, when a bandolier was introduced, because it was worn over the left shoulder. But there are some who insist that 1924 was the date of change, when sloping of rifles over the left shoulder would soil the white lanyard.

    Eventually in 1933, the end of the lanyard was simply tucked into the breast pocket without the jack-knife, though many will remember that it was often kept in place with the soldier’s pay book! On the demise of ‘Battle Dress’, the lanyard disappeared for a short time, but returned as part of the dress of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1973.

    It may surprise many readers that this particular piece if leg-pulling is repeated in various forms. The gold stripe in the Gunner stable belt stems from the colours of the uniform at the time the stable belt was introduced. It was not a question, as the jokers would have it, of yellow stripes for cowardice! Equally ludicrous is the suggestion that the Gunners has seven ‘flames’, as opposed to the sapper’s nine, because we lost two guns at some point in history!

    For those still plagued by jokers, the simplest answer to this kind of leg-pulling is to invite the joker to produce his evidence. No change to any of the Army’s dress regulations can take place without a formal order, and-let us be realistic! it is ridiculous to suppose that the Army Board in its wisdom would countenance the idea of a ‘badge of shame’ to be worn by any branch of the Service. It would guarantee that no one would ever join it! And since no such evidence exists, the joker’s story falls flat on its face. One might even ask why other arms and corps wear lanyard.

    !!! They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery !!!

    Sure it was the RCT that took over the guns anyway!!
  9. IIRC the colours of the 66th Foot were lost at Maiwand on 27th July 1880, while those of the 24th were lost, but later retrieved at Isandlwana on 22nd January 1879.
  10. IIRC The 24th lost theirs at Isandlwana, both Battalions had their colours there, the 1st Battalion i think lost theirs forever, though the flagpole and carrying case were found near the battle, the 2nds were recovered later.

    Good book written by Col Mike Snook on Isandlwana is out and worth a punt.
  11. I'm not a plank but I was attached to them for 3 years!
    I once rested my Bike up against a gun (I didn't know I was an 18 YO RLC Tom!) within 2 seconds I had the scariest RSM in history ripping me a new ar**hole!
    "Would you rest that piece of sh*t up against the Queen?"
    "No sir!"
    ""Rest it up against my colours again and I wil..." well what he was gonna do to me is not printable, but the explanation lasted about 15 minutes!
  12. Found on this website:


    The Royal Artillery has never carried Colours since to do so would be more of a battlefield hindrance than help. It soon became apparent that the RA was present in all battles and deserved most of the honours awarded to cavalry and infantry regiments; in 1833 King William IV awarded the motto "Ubique" as a substitute for all past and future battle honours (the whole badge bearing the motto being the battle honour), but "Waterloo" was carried in Army Lists for some time thereafter; troops and batteries had also been awarded separate quasi-battle honours, but these were considered defunct in 1833 and replaced in 1925 by a battery "honour title" system. In 1833 King William IV designated the guns as the "Colours", to be accorded much the same honour.(See link)

    The term "colours" applies these days not just to the guns, but to the main equipment of an Artillery unit such as the MLRS or a rapier fire unit.
    So, yes the Royal Artillery still carries its colours into action.
  13. All very interesting stuff, BigRed. However, this quote has me confused a bit (easily done, I know), so I'd appreciate it if you could clarify something for me.

    I distinctly remember some geezer transferring to the RAMC from a Lancers Regt. I can't remember which one, but they were also called "The Cherrypickers". Apparently, they'd been in an orchard scoffing cherries instead of taking part in some battle or other, which was subsequently lost. For that, they were stripped of their capbadges as a mark of shame.

    Now this geezer's beret was a sort of dark maroon, but without a capbadge and he himself told me this story. So if what he said was true, then it seems that the Army Board would countenance a sort of "badge of shame" (or the lack of one). After all this time, I can't recall the exact story, but that was the general gist of it.

    Am I just blowing through me arrse here, or is there some substance to this?

  14. The 11th Hussars

    The regiment's nickname, the "Cherry Pickers", came from an incident during the Peninsular War, in which the 11th Hussars were attacked while raiding an orchard at San Martin de Trebejo in Spain. They were distinguished thereafter by their cherry coloured trousers, unique among British regiments and worn in all styles of uniform except battledress.
  15. Thanks for clearing that up, Rab. Very much appreciated. But is it also true, as I was told, that they were stripped of the right to wear a capbadge? And was the regiment disbanded at some time, or incorportated into another? Any idea?