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The term 'Colours' broadly encompasses the four distinctive forms of Honourable Insignia that are the symbol of the spirit of a Regiment, for on them are borne the battle honours and badges granted to the unit in commemoration of gallant deeds performed by members of the unit from the time their unit was raised.

Originally the Colour was the rally point, where during the noise and confusion of battle, it was the focal point of the Regiment, even if the commander was killed, hope was always present whilst the Colours remained intact. On the verge of ultimate defeat the troops would concentrate around the Colours, which would become the scene of its last defence. From such times, records of epic gallantry and acts of heroic self-sacrifice have been associated with the Colours whose preservation inspired these acts.

Although the Colours are no longer carried in battle, they constitute the symbol of the Regiments' honour and represent its devotion to duty. As such they are held in the greatest esteem by the soldiers and officers. They are brought out on important parades and regimental occasions and are escorted by a 'Colour Party'. Infantry Colours are made of silk with Royal Blue being reserved for units who have been granted the title 'Royal'. A dark green is used by non-royal Regiments.


Infantry Regiments of the Australian Army have two Colours: the Queen's Colour: and a Regimental Colour which has the unit's battle honours emblazoned on it. Thus a 'stand' or pair of Colours for a Regiment normally comprises;
· A Queen's Colour, usually with the design of the Australian Flag, on which the union has a gold circle in the centre, within which the Regiment's name (and sometimes initials or number) are emblazoned.
· A Regimental Colour, usually a plain flag of Royal Blue for units who have been granted the title 'Royal'.

New Colours are occasionally presented to a Regiment by The Queen or her representative, often to mark a special anniversary or event in the Regiment's history. The special ceremony at which the new Colours are presented usually involves a Parade and an inspection by the member of the Royal Family or representative. The new Colours are the third set that 5 RAR has carried. The first set was presented to the Battalion by the Governor of NSW, Sir Roden Cutler, on 29 October 1967.

Upon the delinking of 5/7 RAR in December 2006, 5 RAR rededicated itself to its original Colours at Cultana Field Training Area, South Australia. 5 RAR was the first unit in the Australian Army to rededicate itself to its original Colours.

Due to the deteriorating condition of the original Colours was such that ne Colours were presented to 5 RAR in Darwin by His Honour Mr Tom Pauling QC, the Administrator of the Northern territory. The original Colours were returned to the Soldiers' Chapel, Kapooka on 20 November 2008.



On Saturday 1 June, at The Cenotaph on the foreshore of Darwin, 5th Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR) Paraded for the Consecration and Presentation of its new Queen's and Regimental Colours.

Colours02At 15:00hrs the Regimental Sergeant Major, WO1 Robert Munro, called for Troops holding ground to move onto the Parade Ground. Four Direct Fire Support Weapons (DFSW) sections of two men, equipped with Browning M2 .50 Cal Heavy Machine Guns, deployed to each corner of the parade area.

The other-ranks of the Battalion then marched onto the Parade Ground, forming into four formations, on a broad front. The officers of the Battalion joined the Parade in the correct procedure and command of the Parade was passed, through the Adjutant and the Executive Officer to the Commanding Officer, LTCOL Travis Gordon.

The old Colours were then uncased and trooped onto the Parade Ground.

Official Guests arrive and were received with a General Salute;

The Host Officer, MAJGEN Mark Kelly, AO, DSC (Retd), Colonel Commandant of The Royal Australian Regiment.
BRIG Matthew Pearse, AM Commander 1st Brigade.

The Principal Official Guest LTGEN Rick Burr, AO, DSC, MVO Chief of Army.

The Principal Official Guest arrives and is received with a Royal Salute, Her Honour, The Honourable Vicki O'Halloran, AM Administrator for the Northern Territory.

The Reviewing Officer, His Excellency General, The Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK, MC (Retd), The Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia arrives and is received with a Royal Salute. His Excellency then inspected the Parade with the Colonel Commandant and escorted by the CO.

The Escort to the Colours Troop the Old Colours for the last time and they were then marched off the Parade.

Colours04The Parade formed a hollow square and the CO ordered that the drums be piled in the centre of the square.

The new Colours were Trooped to the drums and the original Colour Ensigns from the 1967 Presentation of Colours, Darryl Lovell and Lou O'Dea were invited to assist in the uncasing of the new Colours. These two gentlemen also assisted in the Colours Presentation in 2008. After the Colours were uncased, they were laid upon the drums, with the Queen's Colour uppermost.

The Colours were consecrated by the Anglican Chaplain, blessed by the Roman Catholic Chaplain, sprinkled with Holy Water and dedicated by the Protestant Chaplain.

His Excellency, presented the Queen's Colour to the Senior Ensign, LT Nicholas Pullinen and the Regimental Colour to the Junior Ensign, LT Muhammed Haider.

The Governor General addressed the Parade and the Commanding Officer replied.

Colours06The Drums were unpiled and the Parade reformed line.

The new Colours were received with a General Salute and marched into line.

The Parade reformed line, Advanced in Review Order, and gave a Royal Salute.

The Reviewing Officer departed, followed by the departure of the Official Guests.

The Battalion's new Colours were marched off.

Colours07 LTCOL Gordon relinquishes Command of the Parade to the Executive Officer. He then moved to the front of the Parade Ground, sheaved his sword and departed in the Battalion's 'Eye Of The Tiger' more commonly known as the 'Tigermobile' with the song, Eye of the Tiger blasting from its speakers.

Colours08Through the chain-of-command the RSM reassumed command of the Parade and at this point the older Battalion members present were invited to join the Parade to march off with the Battalion.

The Troops holding ground moved off the Parade Ground.

At the conclusion of the Parade, a Mayoral Civic Reception was held at the Darwin Civic Centre. The Mayor of Darwin welcomed all and there was some Battalion business, including the promotion by the Governor General, of CAPT Brett Edmonds, a previous Adjutant, to Major and enabling him to formally assume the command of Bravo Company.

The official guests, members of the Battalion and the older Tigers mingled for some enjoyable conversation, finger food and liquid refreshment.


From the early ages, Colours have been consecrated and their sacredness cannot be ignored, and must be considered when it comes time for their disposal. In view of the reverence accorded to them whilst they are in service, care has been taken to ensure that they repose in sacred buildings or other public buildings where their preservation is ensured with due regard to their symbolic significance and historic association.

By tradition, once Colours are laid-up, they remain laid-up to disintegrate, i.e. dust to dust and are not to be reconditioned or refurbished. When Colours are laid-up, they are to be hung parallel to the floor and not at an angle. It is acceptable for them to be stored in a glass display case to preserve its life so it can be viewed by the general public. Colours are not disposed of or destroyed when their appearance has deteriorated beyond recognition. They are supposed to be left to turn to dust; as do the bodies of the fallen soldiers who served them.

As is the custom, the Battalion's old Colours were laid-up in St Mary's Star of the Sea Cathedral, Darwin on Sunday 2 June, the first Sunday after the presentation of the new Colours.

Colours09The clergy moved into the sanctuary and the Colour party formed-up in the aisle and faced the altar with the Colours at the attention. The senior ensign ordered the Colour party into position. At the same time, the CO, Colonel Commandant, COL Richard Barrett, ADJT and RSM (all wearing headdress) took-up their respective positions.

The Unit Chaplain commenced the Service with, "We are gathered together in this Cathedral, Church or Military Chapel to lay-up these Colours of the Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment; no more fitting place could be found to deposit these emblems of duty and service than the house of God, where prayer and sacrifice are continually offered".

The CO wearing white kid gloves saluted the Colours and then took them from the ensigns. The Queen's Colour was held in the right hand and the Regimental Colour was in the left hand. The CO then paused in front of the Colour party. As soon as the CO had taken the Colours, the senior ensign ordered the ensigns to draw swords and the Colour Party to Present Arms.

The CO moves to and addressed the Colonel Commandant and COL Barrett, “MAJGEN Kelly and COL Barrett will you honour the regiment by receiving the Queen's and Regimental Colours and delivering them into the custody of the church Sirs”.

The CO handed the Queen's Colour to the Colonel Commandant and the Regimental Colour to COL Barrett.

The Colonel Commandant and COL Barrett turned and faced the altar and the cleric moved into the sanctuary.

Colours10Colonel Commandant to cleric, "Reverend Sir, these consecrated Colours, formally carried by the 5th Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment in the service of Queen and Country, I now deliver into your hands for safe custody".

The Cleric replied, "Sir, I receive these Colours for laying-up and safe keeping within this Cathedral". He then placed the Colours on the Alter Table.

I was proud be present for such significant events in the 5th Battalion's history and I was honoured to again be involved with this great unit, even if only in a small way.

Gary Townsend


'The piling of drums during a religious service dates back to the 17th century and was apparently a means of ensuring that the drums were not beaten during the service, whilst also creating an altar around which the ceremony took place.

Colours11With military ceremony, the piling of the drums is completed as part of the parade and with all due solemnity. First the side drums are placed in a circle then the bass drum or drums are placed centrally on top. Finally, and only if paraded, the unit Colours are placed over the drum with the Queen's Colour on top. After this final act the parade is handed over to the clergy who conduct the religious service which is the 'centre-piece' of the parade.

A United Drumhead Service is only held on special occasions such as the formation of a new unit, a unit birthday or a memorial service. It is always an essential part of the consecration of new Colours, Guidons or Banners prior to their being handed to a Corps, regiment, battalion or unit.'

From the Army's new Customs and Traditions book.

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