|The use of flags for recognition of the
combatants on a battlefield dates back to antiquity. The use of flags, or Colours,
in the Canadian Army today is purely ceremonial, however their importance to the morale
and espirit de corps of individual Regiments of Infantry cannot be underestimated.
The use of Colours in the British Army extends to well
before the mid 1700s, yet it was the "Regulations for the uniform Clothing of the
Marching Regiments of Foot, their Colours, Drums, Bells of Arms, and Camp Colours"
published in 1747 that marked their use in the modern sense. Prior to this time,
commanders of individual Regiments (called Colonels) were free to place their own personal
heraldic devices on flags and other devices on units under their command.
The ties an Infantry Regiment had to their
Colonel in this period were extensive, as it was often he who paid for and equipped the
unit. In addition to using his own device on regimental flags, the regiments were
named for him. For example "Howard's Regiment" would be a regiment led by
a Colonel Howard.
|Uniforms were much more
elaborate at this period, and regiments were distinguished in many ways, including badges
worn on cap and collar, patterns of lace worn on the tunic, and the "facing
colour." Military jackets of the time were lined in a contrasting colour to the
outer colour (usually scarlet in infantry regiments, excepting rifle regiments). The
facing was usually revealed where the inside of the jacket was visible, for example on the
lapels, or on the sleeves, which were sewn long, then turned back and buttoned in place,
exposing the lining. Each regiment selected its own facing colour. This was
one of the easiest ways to identify a unit on a battlefield at any great distance.
While other units have used flags, with the exception
of Guidons used by Cavalry and modern Armoured Regiments, none have had the official
status of the Colours of an Infantry Regiment. In days of old, the Colours were
considered a Regiment's most prized possession, and loss of the Colours was an unbearable
disgrace. Many British soldiers sacrificed their lives in defending their Colours,
or attempting to recapture Colours that had been lost in battle.
The use of flags at this point in time still
served a very tactical purpose; the flags were carried into battle and used to identify a
regiment's positions and also to mark a rallying point should the regiment become
disrupted in battle. Therefore, the 1747 regulations attempted to codify the use of
flags in order to standardize their appearance and ensure that they continued to be a
useful means of identifying friendly troops.
From this point on, then, a "stand of
Colours" came to refer to two flags as carried by a single Regiment of infantry.
(As regimental organizations changed over the years, and these Regiments began to
be split into multiple battalions, each battalion would receive its own stand of colours).
King's Colour (or Queen's
Colour) - referred to in the 1747 Regulations also for the first time as the First Colour;
this flag identified the battalion as belonging to the British Army and represented
loyalty to the reigning sovereign. The design of the flag was the Great Union flag.
Regimental Colour - this
flag, also referred to in the 1747 Regulations as the Second Colour, was considered junior
to the King's Colour. It identified the Regiment to which the battalion belonged.
The flag was generally to be in the "facing colour" of the Regiment so as
to be easily identifiable. By regulation, the Union flag was to be placed in the
Each colour was to be decorated with Roman
numerals in gold, either painted or embroidered, indicating the Rank of the Regiment,
within a wreath of Roses and Thistles on the same stalk (representing the Union of
Scotland and England) on a scarlet field.
Changes to the Design
In 1784, the modern tradition of emblazoning
Battle Honours on the Regimental Colour began, when those units that served at Gibraltar
were permitted to add the title GIBRALTAR to their Regimental Colours. As time
went on and Battle Honours became standardized, they took the form of inscriptions or as
scrolls. As well, other significant devices were added as years went on, such as the
Sphinx device for units rewarded for service in Egypt. The Sphinx was also added to
cap badges, collar badges and belt buckles of some Regiments to honour their service
In 1801, the second pattern Union Flag (with
the Cross of St. Patrick laid over the St.Andrew's Cross) was used in the design of
British Infantry Colours. Union with Ireland also brought the addition of shamrocks
to the wreath on the Regimental Colour.
|At right, the Regimental Colour of the 93rd
Sutherland Highlanders, predecessors of the Allied Regiment, The Argyll and Sutherland
Highlanders (Princess Louise's), as they appeared from 1834-1857.
Per custom, the Union Flag is visible in the upper
canton, and the wreath contains the English Rose, Scottish Thistle, and Irish
Shamrock. The rank of the regiment is indicated by the Roman numerals XCIII (93).
The background is "old gold" or
yellow - the facing colour of the 93rd Highlanders.
|By 1926, the modern Regimental Colour had
evolved into something resembling the artist's conception at right. This Colour was
carried by the Second Battalion, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess
Louise's). The spear-top has been replaced with a standard Crown with Lion atop (the
Lion also wears a miniature crown). The facing colour, yellow, still provides the
field, and the unit designation is still found on a scarlet disc. However, the Union
Jack has disappeared, in favour of regimental symbols - in this case the insignia of
Princess Louise. The Argylls were permitted to carry the Battle Honours of both the
old 91st and 93rd Regiments, after the amalgamation of the two units in 1881. The
insignia of both regiments may be seen at the bottom of the Regimental Colour, and formed
the basis of the collar insignia worn by the Regiment. The flag is also edged in
gold fringe, today generally indicative of a military flag.
The Battalion is represented by the Roman Numeral
"II" in the upper corner. The First Battalion would have carried an
identical Colour, with the number "I".
As Canadian Infantry regiments
were created after Confederation, they too were presented stands of Colours, patterned
after British regulation.
With the creation of the new Canadian
National Flag in 1965, Queen's Colours were to henceforth be patterned after this flag
rather than the Union Jack.
The number of exceptions to the regulations
mentioned above are too numerous to list, though Guards Regiments are notable for having
Company Colours rather than Regimental Colours. Rifle Regiments, whose traditions
revolve around the idea that their unit relies on stealth and individual initiative, have
no Colours as such and instead wear their Battle Honours on their cap badges.
Colours of The
Calgary Highlanders and Predecessor Units
103rd Regiment (Calgary Rifles)
By 1910, Infantry Regiments no longer carried
their Colours into battle. Being a Rifle Regiment, the 103rd Calgary Rifles never
received a stand of Colours in any event. Having no Battle Honours, the cap badge
also remained unadorned.
10th Battalion, Canadian
When the Canadian Militia mobilized units for
active war service, the force known as the Canadian Expeditionary Force was made up
entirely of numbered battalions. Officially, these numbered battalions were to have
no connection with the existing Regiments, though in practice many of the new battalions
took such Regimental accoutrements into use as tartans, cap badges and other traditional
uniform components. Some of the battalions had King's and Regimental Colours also,
including reinforcement battalions created in Canada.
|The Tenth Battalion, however, did not have
its own Colours. In 1917 the battalion was authorized to have a "battle
flag", in red with a white circle bearing the distinguishing patches as worn on the
uniform sleeves upon it. It is not, however, known whether or not the battalion ever
adopted such a flag. Its only use would have been as a headquarters marker in any
event. For the march into Germany in December 1918, the Tenth Battalion was issued a
wool bunting Union Jack, of the same type issued to all Canadian battalions not in
possession of their own Colours.
The Union Jack was deposited
in Knox Church in Calgary on 19 July 1919, and the Church offered to present a Regimental
Colour to accompany the Union Jack now referred to as the King's Colour. The Tenth
Battalion Association politely refused, wanting to wait until Battle Honours had been
For long years after the award of Battle
Honours in 1929, nothing was done, until finally the Tenth Battalion Association decided
to purchase new Colours at their own expense in 1950. The Department of National
Defence granted permission, so long as no expense to the public was incurred. The
original King's Colour could, according to DND, either be left undisturbed in its resting
place at Knox Church, deposited elsewhere in the Church, or cremated with the ashes being
spread over the replica as part of the ceremony of depositing the new Colours.
The Association opted to cremate the original
King's Colour, and the order for the new Colours was placed in late 1952, with delivery
being taken in March 1953. On 26 April 1953, the new stand of Colours was officially
deposited at Knox Church, in a ceremony involving 62 veterans of the Tenth Battalion
accompanied by the Regimental Pipes and Drums of The Calgary Highlanders. The
Colours still reside today at Knox Presbyterian United Church in downtown Calgary.
56th Battalion, CEF
In all, 260 infantry battalions were raised
during the First World War for inclusion in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, though only
a fraction of them were used for active service, the remainder usually broken up for
reinforcements of the active CEF units. Nonetheless, enthusiastic units created cap,
collar and shoulder badges for themselves, and eagerly adopted the traditions of founding
regiments in some cases. The 56th Battalion, one of two reinforcement battalions
perpetuated by The Calgary Highlanders, funded a stand of Colours in March 1916. The
Colours were deposited at the Church of the Redeemer in Calgary where they still reside.
82nd Battalion, CEF
The 82nd Battalion also had a stand of
Colours, which were presented in May 1916, then deposited at St. Mary's, Sellindge, Kent
in the United Kingdom in June 1916. They were eventually transferred to the Glenbow
Museum in Calgary in 1965.
The Calgary Highlanders
The first stand of Colours belonging to The
Calgary Highlanders were presented on Wednesday, 28 December 1927.
According to tradition, the King's Colour was
based on the Union Flag, with a red disc in the centre bearing a gold numeral I and the
legend THE CALGARY HIGHLANDERS. The Regimental Colour had a yellow field, the facing
colour inherited from the Allied regiment, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (Princess
Louise's). The red disc on the Colour bore a regimental symbol, the St. Andrew's
Cross (a common feature of Highland and Scottish regiment badges) surmounted by the
beaver. The beaver had been the central symbol on the cap badge of the Tenth
Battalion, symbolizing Canada, and was also included on the cap badge of The Calgary
Highlanders. As per Canadian custom, the wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks
found on British Army Colours was replaced by a wreath of Canadian maple leaves. The
battalion numeral "I" was located in the top canton.
Battle Honours for the First World War had
not yet been granted, and so the Colours were blank at first. Subsequently, the
Battle Honours awarded to the Calgary Highlanders, earned by the predecessor unit, the
Tenth Battalion, and selected for emblazonment, were added to the Regimental Colour.
Artist's concept of the 1927
stand of Colours, as used in the presentation programme.
Scan courtesy Lieutenant Kevin S. Winfield, CD
On 29 March 1940, the Colours were officially
deposited in the Cathedral of the Redeemer for safekeeping, until the overseas battalion
of The Calgary Highlanders returned to Canada.
On Thursday, 25 May 1967, a new stand of
Colours was presented by Her Royal Highness Princess Alexandra of Kent in a ceremony held
at Currie Barracks in Calgary. The new Queen's Colour had the St. Edward's Crown
rather than the Tudor Crown as worn on the older King's Colour, and the new Regimental
Colour was emblazoned with the Regiment's Second World War Battle Honours. The new
Colours also deleted the Roman numeral "I" indicating the First Battalion.
The old Colours were subsequently deposited in the Cathedral of the Redeemer in
Calgary. Also on parade was the South Alberta Light Horse, who received a new Guidon
in a dual ceremony.
||The stand of Colours retired
in 1967, as they now appear at the Cathedral of the Redeemer. Note the Tudor or
"King's" Crown on both. These were replaced by the St. Edward's or
"Queen's" Crown on the new Colours presented by HRH Princess Alexandra of Kent.
Photograph of the new
stand of Colours presented in 1967.
Scan courtesy Lieutenant Kevin S. Winfield, CD
|This Queen's Colour, still patterned on the
the Union Jack, was replaced by a new Queen's Colour based on the maple leaf National Flag
on 30 June 1990. The presentation was made by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II,
Colonel-in-Chief of the Regiment, at McMahon Stadium in front of 38,000 spectators.
Also on parade was the King's Own Calgary Regiment.
At right, the current stand of Colours, including the Queen's
Colour presented in 1990 and the Regimental Colour presented in 1967.
|The Regiment has also adopted in recent
years a "Camp Flag", as shown at right. This is not an official Colour and
is used in an unofficial manner only. It may be flown daily at the home station, or
wherever the Regiment is stationed, from sun up to sun down. The Camp Flag has also
been used by the Pipes and Drums while on parade or at Highland Games. A Regimental
Camp Flag also flies over the Museum of the Regiments in Calgary.