A GUIDON is an heraldic
banner carried by cavalry regiments, the equivalent of the colours borne
by regiments of line infantry. Until about a century ago, guidons
and colours were taken into battle as the distinguishing symbols and
rallying points for fighting units.
The word derives from the
Italian guidone meaning 'guide' or 'marker' and/or the Middle French
corruption guyd-hommes, hence it is the focus for soldiers in battle.
There developed for this precious symbol of unity a reverence for its
own sake, endorsed by the religious practice of blessing a banner before
it was carried into battle. That the Roman legions fought fiercely
to protect their eagle standards and suffered disgrace for their loss
illustrates just how highly prized such things became. For a very
long time, soldiers have given high regard to these talismans of
corporate identity, and so it is today.
the carrying of a Guidon or Colour remained the exclusive privilege of
those who fought face to face with the enemy, namely the Cavalry and the