Retiring the Colours

“The Royal Fusiliers marching through the City of London in 1916” At the time, the Regimental Colour carried honours for “Namur, 1695,” “Martinique, 1809,” “Talavera,” “Busaco,” “Albuhera,” “Badajoz,” “Salamanca,” “Vittoria,” “Pyrenees,” “Orthes,” “Toulouse,” “Peninsula,” “Alma,” “Inkerman,” “Sevastopol,” “Kandahar, 1880,” “Afghanistan, 1879-80,” “Relief of Ladysmith,” “South Africa, 1899-1902.” Plate by Ernest Eggersun, via Regimental Nicknames and Traditions of the British Army 5th ed. London Gale & Polden. 1916

Today’s Royal Regiment of Fusiliers is a fairly new unit, only formed in 1968. However, it was amalgamated from at least four previous regiments (20th Foot/The Lancashire Fusiliers, 5th Foot/Northumberland Fusiliers, 7th Foot/The Royal Fusiliers/City of London Regiment, and 6th Foot/Royal Warwickshire Regiment) which dated back to as far as 1674.

The current colours Royal Regiment Of Fusiliers carry more than 40 honors from past campaigns, presented to the units in the Regiment’s lineage. (All photos: British Army)

Recently, the long-retired colours of the 2nd Battalion (carried in the Second Anglo-Afghan War 1880) and later 10th Battalion of the old Royal Fusiliers, having deteriorated to a point where dignified preservation was apparently no longer an option, were honorably burned and buried in the Royal Fusiliers Garden of Remembrance.

Moving forward, 3 October will be known in the Regiment as “Afghanistan Day” honoring the chain from 1880 to today, when the modern unit has been active in the same region, although with a different mission.

“The vibrant colours of the current Standards and Colours laid on the high altar in the church with the Royal Fusilier Victoria Crosses contrast sharply with the burnt remains of the Colours buried today. In the moving ceremony, enacted for the first time by the Regiment of Fusiliers, there is time to reflect on the bravery and service of the officers and men who have served through the Regiment’s history. The final, formal burial of old Colours which have decayed over the decades is still a rare event in modern-day soldiering.” noted the Army on Thursday.

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