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Origin of 5RAR Colours

By Brian London OAM., DCM.
Both Tours

Author: Brian London OAM., DCM

The Colours are the focal point of all that made the Regiment great. They are consecrated symbols embodying the loyalty, spirit and traditions of the Regiment to which they belong.

The origin of the symbols can be traced back to the dim beginnings of history. Over 5000 years ago in India there was the "Cult of the Standard". In the time of Julius Caesar standards were made of metal, but with the advent of the Christian era they were made of cloth, silk or damask.

Early Military flags were of two types: the personal flag borne in the feudal armies when service was rendered to the immediate overlord, and the national or standardized flag as borne by the National or standing armies. George 111 abolished the personal aspect in 1743 when a warrant stated "No Colonel shall put his arms, crest device or livery in any part of the appointments of his Regiment". The same warrant directed the number of the Regiment to be painted in the centre of the Regimental or second colour inaugurating the Regimental aspect. Varying colours were carried by Regiments until 1751 when it was decreed that only two colours would be carried in future - The King's (or Queen's) and the Regimental Colour.

The purpose of the standard was to serve as a rallying point in the field of battle. When the distinctive insignia was held aloft the troops knew the position of their leader. To lose the standard often meant that one's leader was lost. Therefore the importance of "Keeping the flag flying" was very great.

With the introduction of modern weapons the casualty rate among Colour and Standard Bearers was very high. So high was the mortality rating of colour bearers during the Crimean War that in subsequent European wars British Colours were not carried. The Colours were last carried into battle at Laings Nec on 26 January 1881, in the first Boer War.

The Queen's Colour is a reminder to all ranks of their loyalty and duty to their sovereign and their Country. The Regimental Colour is a symbol of Regimental tradition and of the duty owed by each member to the Regiment. Battle Honours are emblazoned on the Colours.

In earlier days the colours were trooped through the ranks prior to an engagement so that they could be recognised by all ranks as a rallying point during the battle. To-day the Trooping of the Colours through the ranks of the Regiment is continued as a Ceremonial Movement only.

Before being presented, the Colours are always consecrated at a religious ceremony on parade where God's blessing on them is asked. This dates back to the Battle of the Standard in 1138 when the Yeoman of Yorkshire took with them consecrated banners from York Cathedral, and fought so fiercely to save the banners that they defeated heavy odds.

history of 5RAR colours

Presentation of the Colours

The governor of NSW presents the colours to 2nd-Lt D Lovell
The Fifth Battalion was presented with the Queen's and Regimental Colours by His Excellency, The Governor of New South Wales, Sir Roden Cutler, VC., KCMG., CBE. Here he presents the Colours to 2nd-Lt, D. G. Lovell.

The original Queen’s & Regimental Colours of 5RAR were presented at Holsworthy by the Governor of NSW, Sir Roden Cutler on 29 October 1967 after the battalion returned from its first tour of Vietnam. When linking with 7RAR occurred on 3rd December 1973, the colours of 5RAR & 7RAR were not laid-up, but were retained in the custody of 5/7RAR, with both sets being paraded on ceremonial occasions.

Original Regimental Colours of 5RAR

the colours of the Fifth Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment

Without knowledge that 5/7RAR would eventually delink, new colours were presented to 5/7RAR by the Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery in Darwin on 3 December 2003 (the birthday of 5/7RAR). The original colours of 5RAR and 7RAR were then laid-up together at the Soldiers’ Chapel, Kapooka on 23 April 2004.  The Queen’s colours of both battalions were the last to have the Union Jack rather than the Australian flag.

Delinking of 5/7RAR occurred on 3 December 2006 and it was not feasible for the two re-raised units (5RAR & 7RAR) to share the Colours.

Re-Dedication of 5RAR's Colours
5RAR's re-dedication of her colours 5RAR's re-dedication of her colours

On 14 April 2007, the Tiger Battalion rededicated itself to its original colours in a sunset ceremony at Cultana Field Training Area SA, prior to the deployment of Battle Group Tiger to Iraq. 5RAR is the first unit in the Australian Army to rededicate itself to its original colours. The 5/7RAR Colours, although only three years old, were then laid up at Kapooka on 3 December 2007. The deteriorating condition of the original colours was such that new colours were presented to 5RAR in Darwin on 5 June 2008 by His Honour Mr Tom Pauling QC, the Administrator of the Northern Territory. The original colours were returned to the Soldiers’ Chapel, Kapooka on 20 November 2008. 

5RAR Queen's & Regimental Colours on Parade
5RAR Colours on Parade at Robertson Barracks Darwin

Colours of 5RAR

The new 5RAR Queen's & Regimental Colours


Historical Notes

Regimental Motto - 'Duty First'

Regimental March - 'Dominique'

Alliance - 'Her Majesty's Welsh Guards'

 

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