1965 The Battalion Receives its Colours
The Presentation of Colours to the First Battalion
The Rhodesian Light Infantry
In days gone by, when battles were fought without the cutting edge technology of equipment we have today, in particular communications, the rallying of troops during the heat of battle was a major problem. To over come this, flags and standards were taken into battle and, these served as rallying points that enabled troops to identify their own units. Prior to battle these flags were paraded through the ranks of its troops in order to ensure that every man could clearly identify their own unit’s flag. There was a need to protect these flags, because if they were captured or destroyed, this could result in complete disorder and chaos. To avoid this, a group of soldiers were assigned to give the flag and its bearer protection. This was the origin of Colours and Colour parties.
In this modern age while Regiments still have Colours, these are not taken into battle. However, the tradition has been retained and is today a traditional ceremony in the form of a parade, “Trooping the Colour”. This parade normally takes place every year on a special occasion, such as Regimental Day. It is a case of, from pratical necessity to colorful celebration.
Colous are presented by the Sovereign or Head of State, having been consecrated in a religious ceremony. For these reasons, the Colours of a Regiment are sacred icons that symbolize its history and traditions. They are also the focal point of the Regiments honour, pride, self respect and esprit de corps. All military personnel at all times accord the Colours with the greatest respect by saluting them when uncased and the Battalion presents arms when the Colours are marched on and off parade.
Presentation of Colours to the Battalion.
The Colours were approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 on the 15 July 1963. The original drawings of the Colours, produced by the College of Arms and bearing the signature of the Queen, hung in a place of honour in the office of the Commanding Officer. The Queens Colour bears the Royal Crown and the inscription “The Rhodesian Light Infantry” on the traditional back ground of the Union Jack. The Regimental Colour consists of the Regimental Badge surrounded by the words “ The Rhodesian Light Infantry” and a laurel wreath of flame lilies (the national flower of Rhodesia} surmounted by the Royal Crown on a green background.
On the 19 June 1965 the Battalion was presented with their Colours on a full ceremonial parade by the then Governor Of Rhodesia, His Excellency Sir Humphrey Gibbs, KCMG OBE, on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11. The parade was held on the parade ground at Cranborne Barracks, the home of the Battalion.
Lt. Col. G P Walls MBE, CO 1RLI.
Parade Second in Command.
Maj P A Conn
*Capt D G Parker
Regimental Sergeant Major
WO1 R F Reid- Daly, MBE.
Ensign to the Queens Colour. Lt. D R Lambert.
Ensign to the Regimental Colour. 2Lt T G DesFountain.
S/M WO11 Tarr O R.
Sgt Murray C A
Sgt Farndell C P
No 1 Guard. Maj. P A Conn.
No 2 Guard. Maj. H St J Rowley.
No 3 Guard. Maj. J H Cole.
No 4 Guard. Maj. A B Campling.
The Band of The Rhodesian Corps of Signals.
Director of Music.
Capt F Sutton ARCM.
* The Adjutant and RSM were responsible for the selection of the Colour Party. It was an honour and privilege to be selected for this duty. On a point of note, the Parade Adjutant Capt D G Parker on the 1 May 1974 was appointed CO of the Regiment.
It was estimated that a crowd of 3000+ filled the spectators’ stands and were crammed shoulder to shoulder on all sides of the parade ground. VIP guests included: the Minister of Defence and other senior Government Ministers and their ladies. The Mayor and Mayoress Of Salisbury and other senior civilian dignitaries and their ladies. The GOC Maj – Gen and Mrs RRJ Putterill and a number of senior Army, Air Force and Police personnel and their ladies. Throughout the parade the Governor was accompanied by the Regiments Honorary Colonel, Maj-Gen REM Long CBE.
As soon as the Battalion was formed up, the Colours were marched on independently to the tune of the Regimental March “the Saints “. This was the first time the Colours were viewed by the public and the entire crowd stood up, all personnel in uniform saluted and the Battalion was at the present arms. The atmosphere was stirring. The Governor then inspected the Battalion, which was followed by the Battalion forming a hollow square.The drums were piled in the centre and the Colours drapped over them. The Chaplains of the Rhodesian Corps of Chaplains then conducted the dedication ceremony, the blessing and drum head service. The Governor then formally presented the Colours to the CO to which the CO replied. The Battalion then reformed line and the Colours were trooped through the ranks. The parade was then concluded with the march past in slow and quick time. The Colours were lowered on the Royal Salutes and march past in slow time, this was the first and last time this was to happen as those Colours were never again paraded in the presence of Royalty or representatives of Royalty. Furthermore, with the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) taking place a few months later, Army Headquarters (AHQ) directed that the Queen’s Colour was not to be paraded.
That evening celebration functions were held in the Officers Mess, the WO’s and Sgt’s Mess, the Cpl’s Club and Troopers Canteen, these went on into the very early hours of the morning of the 20 June 1965.
The Presentation of Colours on the 19 June 1965 was a very significant and memorable day in the history of the Regiment.
Trooping of the Colour parades are normally performed yearly. Despite a number of attempts over the years to stage the parade, this regrettably was not possible due to operational commitments. However, the Regimental Colour was trooped on one occasion, which was on 27 June 1970.