Q & R Colours of First
Battalion Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR)
The Colours are the focal point of the Battalion.
They are consecrated symbols embodying the loyalty, spirit and
traditions of the Battalion and The Regiment to which they belong.
The practice of carrying symbolic flags and banners
by military organisations has been present for centuries. A good example
of this can be seen in the use of the Eagle Standards of the Roman
Legion, implemented by Julius Caesar in order to provide easy
identification and esprit de corps within his army. More
pertinent to the current colours carried by the Battalion, the roots can
be traced back from medieval times, where by family crests and insignia
of sovereign note were carried into battle and used for unit
identification and rallying points.
The 1RAR Colour
Party 10 March 2001
It wasn’t until the 17th Century, when the
British military forces began the transition to regimentation, that a
Royal Warrant was issued detailing the composition and requirements to
be adhered to by serving regiments in regard to the carriage of colours.
By the September of 1743, a Royal Warrant detailing the carriage of two
colours, the Sovereign and Regimental colour was introduced, a tradition
that stills remains today. The King's/Queen's Colour is a reminder to all
ranks of their loyalty and duty to their Sovereign and their Country,
while the Regiment Colour is the symbol of Regimental tradition and of
the duty owed by each member to The Regiment.
The full details pertaining to the composition and
dimensions of the Kings/Queens and Regimental Colours can be found in
Ceremonial Manual Volume 2 dated 1999.
In the early 1960’s due to a number government
departments applying to use defaced versions of the Australian National
Flag (ANF), it was proposed that the ANF be used to replace the Union
Jack as the Kings/Queens Colour. On the 29 September 1969, after
consultation with the Garter King of Arms, the Governor General informed
the Prime Minister's office that the Army's application was successful,
and that the Queen's Colour had been endorsed by Her Majesty the Queen.
(Australian Army Guidons and Colours, P. 123) The composition of the
regimental colour is blue as the Regiment is prefixed by ‘Royal’.
In the case of 1 RAR’s Regimental Colour, the
Battalion's motto of "Duty First" is embroidered on the colour
below The Royal Australian Regiment’s badge.
(Note that "Duty First"
is the motto of the Royal Australian Regiment but 1RAR claim it as their
Battalion motto as well because it, like the RAR Badge was created by a
In addition to the customary features present on
Regimental colours, battle and theatre honours may also be emblazoned on
the colour. As is the case of 1 RAR’s current Regimental Colour,
theatre honours for Korea and Vietnam have been awarded, and the battle
honours of Kapyong, Long Tan and Coral - Balmoral have each respectively
been placed on the regimental colour.
In addition to the battle honours received by 1 RAR,
the Battalion also carries on the Regimental colour a distinguished Unit
Citation Streamer. The streamer represents a United States of America
Meritorious Unit Commendation (Army), presented to the Battalion for
active service with the 173rd Airborne Brigade in South Vietnam, between
1965 – 67. (Ceremonial Manual Volume 1, 1999, Chapter Five Para 5.23)
Colours Presented in 1957
The first Queens and Regimental colours of 1st
Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment were presented to the unit by
Governor General of Australia, His Excellency Field Marshall The
Viscount Sir William Slim, KG, GCB, GCMG, KCB, CB, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC,
KStJ on 30 Mar 57 at the Exhibition Grounds in Brisbane. The Queens
Colour presented to the Battalion was based upon the design featuring
the Union Jack, while the Regimental Colour had the theatre and battle
honours for the Korean Conflict 1950 -53 and the Battle of Kapyong.
Chaplain General J.A. Morgan, AO, ED conducted the Laying Up of these
colours at the All Saints Chapel, Lavarack Barracks on 13 May 81.
The Laying Up ceremony was unique in two respects.
Firstly the Most Reverend Chaplain General J.A. Morgan, AO, ED who had
officiated at their Presentation also officiated at the Laying Up of the
colour. Secondly, it was the first time that the colours had been laid
up in a Military multi-denominational National Chapel; and thus the
inaugural use of the Ceremony approved by the Conference of the Chaplain
General for such an occasion. (Laying Up of The Colours Program of
Events 13 May 1981)
Colours Presented in 1976
The second set of Queens and Regimental colours of
the Battalion, were presented to the unit by Governor General of
Australia, His Excellency The Honourable Sir John Kerr, AK, GCMG, KStJ,
QC on 5th July 1976 at Lavarack Barracks, Townsville. The Queens Colour
that was presented to the Battalion was based upon the new design that
had been approved on 29 September 1969, by Her Majesty the Queen,
featuring the Australian National Flag instead of the Union Jack. The
Regimental Colour presented at the same time still only had the theatre
and battle honours for Korean Conflict and the Battle of Kapyong. The
Laying Up of the second set of Queens and Regimental Colours was
conducted on the 16th of May 1988, in the same week that the Battalion
commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Coral. By the time
the Colours had been Laid Up in the All Saints Chapel at Lavarack
Barracks, the Regimental Colour had the Theatre honours for Vietnam 1965
–72 awarded, in addition to the Battle honours for the Battles of Long
Tan and Coral – Balmoral. It was only after the third set of Queens
and Regimental Colours had been presented to the battalion earlier that
week, that the above mentioned Theatre and Battle honours were placed on
the second set of Colours. (Army News, No 717 9 June 1988, p.4 )
Colours Presented in 1988
The third and current set of Queens and Regimental
Colours of the Battalion, were presented to the unit by Governor General
of Australia, His Excellency The Honourable Sir Ninian Stephens, AK,
GCMG, GCVO, KBE, KStJ at Lavarack Barracks Townsville on 12 May 88,
which was also the Battalions twentieth anniversary of the battle for
Fire Support Base Coral. The Queens Colour that was presented to the
Battalion was again based upon the new design featuring the Australian
National Flag. However the Regimental Colour presented by Governor
General was awarded Theatre Honours for Vietnam 1965–72, and the
Battle Honours for the battles of Long Tan and Coral – Balmoral.
In addition to Battalions Theatre and Battle honours
displayed on the Regimental Colour, the 1st Battalion, The Royal
Australian Regiment was also awarded the United States Meritorious Unit
Commendation, in recognition of outstanding service while part of the US
173rd Airborne Brigade in South Vietnam, 1965–67. The Meritorious Unit
Commendation was awarded to the Battalion on 4th of July 1991 in the
form of a Distinguished Unit Citation Streamer. (Ceremonial Manual
Volume 1, 1999, Chapter Five pp 5.23)