Military colours, standards or guidons are carried to act as a rallying point for troops and to mark the location of the commander. During the High Middle Ages, it became a regular practice to have their commander’s coat of arms on their standards. It was decided that during the chaos of battle, the soldiers needed to be able to determine which their regiment was. Regimental flags were awarded by the head of state and were inscribed with the names of battles of other symbols representing achievements. They were treated with honour. It became considered a great feat of arms if the enemy’s standard was captured. Colour Guards were enlisted to protect their colours. These were often elite soldiers. If the colours are ever in jeopardy of being captured by the enemy, they must be destroyed. The Colour Guards are a group of soldiers assigned to protect the regimental colours. This duty is usually carried out by a young officer as it is considered so prestigious and experiences non-commissioned officers are assigned to the protection of the flag. The NCO’s re usually armed with either rifles or sabres to protect the colour. When standing orders become too old to use they are never destroyed, but laid up in museums or places of significance to the regiment. In more modern battles, colours are no longer carried into battle due to the changes in tactics. They are still used at events. In the United Kingdom the infantry regiments of the Army carry two colours which together are called a stand. These are two large flags which are mounted on a half pike with the regiments insignia placed in the centre. The Rifle regiments traditionally do not carry colours. The two rifle regiments in the British Army; The Rifles and the Royal Gurkha Rifles carry their battle honours on their drums. In place of Regimental colours, the Gurkhas carry the Queen’s Truncheon. The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force also have colours. The Royal Navy colours consist of a White Ensign with a Union Jack and a Masthead pennant. Unlike the colours of regiments in the Army, every colour of the Royal Navy is identical. Units in the Royal Navy to hold a Queen’s colour are- - Naval Aviation Command - Submarines Command- Fleet -Britannia Royal Naval College - Surface Flotilla - Royal Naval Reserve. The Royal Air Force colours are made from sky blue silk and the Royal Cypher with a crown above is in the middle.
The Rifles is the largest British Army infantry regiment. There are a wide range of jobs in the regiment, which, unlike any other regiment in the infantry, are a three hour travelling time from anywhere in the UK. The regiment was formed in 2007 as a result of the Future Army Structure and is made up of five Regular and two Reserve battalions. Since the formation of the regiment, it has been involved in many combat operations such as the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. The Band and Bugles of The Rifles was formed by renaming the Band and Bugles of the Light Division. This then formed the band for The Rifles. The Buglers are selected from the regular battalions and are trained to play the bugle and a fast march of 140 paces per minute. A private soldier in a rifle regiment is known as a Rifleman and Sergeant, which is spelt in the archaic fashion. The founding regiments have each contributed to the ceremonial uniform today. The black buttons are worn on all forms of the rifles dress, except the combat and the bugle horn badge of the Light Infantry is worn on the cap badge. The Maltese Cross of the Royal Green Jackets is worn as a buckle on the cross belt and the French Croix de Guerre ribbon is worn on both sleeves of the No. 1 and No. 2 dress. The Rifles hold 913 battle honours, including 117 Victoria Crosses. The regimental motto is ‘swift and bold’ and the ‘Rifles’ name is broken down to stand for: Respect, Independence, Friends for Life, Learning, Excitement and Success. To view our range of uniform accessories for The Rifles click here.