The two colours, Known collectively as a “Stand” – the Kings Colour which is the union flag with the regimental crest in the centre and the Regimental Colour made of our facing colour with the union flag in the upper right canton along with the regimental emblem and honours, in our case Egypt In 1806. The system had only just commenced and therefore by this time that was the only recognised honour bestowed on the Battalion.
The two Ensigns in the Regiment had the unenviable responsibility to literally “guard with his life” the Colour he carried. It is no co-incidence that many of the stories of self sacrifice and exemplary courage under fire, relate to the protection of the Regiment’s colours. They were passed on amongst the subalterns by reverse seniority as death, wounds or tiredness overcame their original bearers.
When sergeant William Lawrence of the 40th regiment was ordered to the Colours late in the afternoon at Waterloo he knew it was tantamount to a death sentence:
“This…..was a job I did not like at all; but still I went to work as boldy as I could . There had been before me that day fourteen sergeants already killed and wounded while in charge of these colours, with officers in proportion and the staff and colours were almost cut in pieces”
They were originally made of silk, measuring 6ft 6ins long by 6ft deep and carried on a pike 9ft 10 ins long. The original intent of the Colours was as a rallying point for the troops to help them locate their own regiment in the confusion of battle. The ritual of trooping the colour was originated to ensure that all knew what they looked like.
Today, even in re-enactment terms, these are the regiment’s most treasured possessions and can never be taken from us either in battle or on any other occasion. We are all charged with the responsibility of ensuring their security at all times.