The Colours
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Regimental Colours, Banners, and Flags Past and Present

The Regimental Colours

"A moth-eaten rag on a worm-eaten pole,
It does not look likely to stir a man's Soul,
'Tis the deeds that were done 'neath the moth-eaten rag,
When the pole was a staff, and the rag was a flag."

-Sir Edward Hamley on seeing some old Colours of the 43rd Monmouth Light Infantry in Monmouth Church

Today, Regimental Colours are the visible memorials to great deeds of a regiment, and symbols of its spirit as expressed in those deeds. Colours are no longer carried on active service, as their battlefield function has long since disappeared; but when they were, they became the rallying point of a regiment and acts of heroic self-sacrifice were often performed in their defence.

The history of distinctive symbols to identify military units is as old as war itself. They were carried in the ancient armies of Egypt, Macedonia, Greece, and Rome. In the armies of Japan and China they were more colourful, as they usually took the form of a flag or banner.

The term Regimental Colour is descriptive of the infantry flags which evolved in the British Army, and refers to the two flags of a battalion, the senior of which is called the King's (or Queen's) Colour, and the junior, the Regimental Colour. Together, they are referred to as a stand of colours.

The design and form of colours of the Canadian Forces today traces its history of a document entitled "Regulations for the uniform Cloathing of the Marching Regiments of Foot, their Colours, Drums, Bells of Arms, and Camp Colours, 1747."

In general, the regulations put a stop to a former practice wherein Colonels of Regiments had placed a device or coat of arms on colours and appointments of regiments under their command. The new instructions gave the design of colours as:

    "The King's or First Colour, of every Regiment or Battalion to be the Great Union.

    The Second Colour to be the colour of the Faceing of the Regiment with the Union in the upper canton...

    In the centre of each Colour is to be painted or embroidered in gold Roman characters the number of the Rank of the Regiment within a Wreath of Roses and Thistles on the same stalk..."

This regulation of design, with modifications, is still the basis of the design of Regimental Colours in the British Army today. The design of colours in the Canadian Army, although basically following the same rules as the British, now use the National Flag of Canada as the Queen's Colour (with the exception of Regiments of Guards.)

The use of the term King's Colour in the 1747 regulations is the first recorded instance where it is used to describe the First Colour of a Regiment.

Today, it is the custom to place on colours the names of distinctive battles in which the Regiment took a prominent part. That custom did not originate until 1784 with the granting of the Battle Honour Gibraltar. No Battle Honours were granted for the American Revolution, as that war was basically a civil war, and a defeat for British arms.

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment has a history dating back to the American Revolution and Butler's Rangers, from which the nucleus of the new militia in Upper Canada was drawn. During the first two hundred and eleven years there have been countless reorganizations of the Militia, with name changes and changes in Regimental boundaries. With those changes came the presentation of a great number of Regimental Colours, some still in existence today. The following is a list of colours know to have been presented to the Regiment in all its permutations.

Butler's Rangers, 1777-1784

In the museum at the Military Academy at West Point, there is a Union Flag with the centerpiece cut out. In 1840 it was identified as having been found after the Battle of Wyoming (now Wilkes-Barre, PA,) and associated with Butler's Rangers. In 1921 it was noted that the flag has been captured by the Americans at Fort George, Upper Canada, on 27 May 1813, but historians have pointed out that the Union Jack was that of the period 1707-1800, the design being changed in 1801 to incorporate the Cross of St. Patrick.

There is some rationale, however, to clam that it is in fact a King's Colour of Butler's Rangers, and was captured in 1813, for in his claims for war losses for the War of 1812, James Muirhead, who had married John Butler's daughter, stated that the Americans had looted from his house, "a strand of silk Colours formerly belonging to Butler's Rangers which Mr. Muirhead saw taken up the Government House in possession of General Dearborne."

1st Regiment, Lincoln Militia, 1828

These colours were presented 13 June 1828 at Fort George. They are presently in the Canadian War Museum.

The St. Catharines Constitutional report in 1866, 1867, and 1869 that the Loyal Canadian Society displayed these colours at their annual October banquet. The banner of the Society was "supported on either side by the venerable colours of the old 1st Lincoln Militia."

2nd Regiment, Lincoln Militia, 1829

The 2nd Regiment received these colours on 4 June 1829 at Lundy's Lane. They were donated by Colonel Thomas Clark, a previous Commanding Officer. The actual presentation was made by Colonel James Kerby, and the colours were received by Ensigns Richardson and Keefer.

The colours were given to the Niagara Historical Society by someone named Simpson from Niagara Falls, and are now owned by The Lincoln and Welland Regiment. They are in the safekeeping of the St. Catharines Historical Museum.

4th Regiment, Lincoln Militia, 1818

Misses Margaret and Elizabeth Nells presented these colours to the 4th Regiment at Grimsby on 4 June 1818. They are presently in the possession of the Niagara Historical Museum.

2nd Battalion, Lincoln, 1854

The Ladies of Granthem presented these colours, designed by a Mr. Griffith and made by Charles Baker of Toronto, to the Battalion on the parade ground of Mr. Adam's farm in Grantham on 28 June 1854. The St. Catharines Journal describes them as, "The Queen's, or first colour, is the Great Union. The second, or Regimental, is of white silk, with emblems of Canada, the wreath of maple surmounting the Crown, surrounded by the Shamrock, Rose and Thistle, and Garter, with the motto; in the centre is the Beaver, and beneath, the Battleaxe and Spear; the Union Jack occupies the upper corner, both colours are supplied with rich cords and tassels." They were received by Colonel Clark.

Their existence today is unknown.

3rd Battalion, Lincoln, 1853

Lodged in the Officers' Mess in St. Catharines, these colours were presented at Jordan, probably on 28 June 1853 at the annual Militia muster.

The colours have been draped and sealed in a glass case so that the whole of the colour is not visible. Some of the design is evident, as are Battle honours of the War of 1812, however, there is no known record of these Battle Honours ever being approved.

5th Battalion, Lincoln, 1856

These colours were presented by Mrs. Macdonald, Mrs. Towers, and Mrs. Eccles on behalf of the Ladies of the City on 24 May 1856 at the Race Courses in St. Catharines. They were received by Colonel Macdonald.

Later in the evening hundreds of spectators viewed illuminations and fireworks in celebration of the Queen's Birthday.

The existence of these colours today is unknown.

The Daily Standard of 20 June 1906 stated that these colours were presented by Mrs. Elias Adams in 1851.

19th Lincoln Battalion of Infantry, 1876

The Queen's and Regimental Colours of the 19th were presented at St. Catharines in May of 1876. They were purchased through the efforts of Mrs. Henry Carlisle, the mother of Lieutenant Colonel George Clark Carlisle, and ladies of St. Catharines.

They were last trooped on 23 May 1926, prior to new colours being presented to The Lincoln Regiment, and then laid up in St. George's Church, St. Catharines.

A camp flag of this unit, dating from approximately 1880, is in the Canadian War Museum.

19th St. Catharines Regiment, 1906

These colours were presented at the Armoury in St. Catharines to the Regiment by the Imperial order of the Daughters of the Empire on 19 June 1906. The newspapers reported, "The flags, three in number, two of which are bannerettes bearing the inscription XIX St. Catharines, the other was the National Emblem." They replaced the colours of The 19th Lincoln, presented in 1876.

The existence of the colours of this Regiment is unknown.

20th Battalion Volunteer (Militia) Infantry, 1864

The local newspaper, dated 24 December 1864, commented, "Colonel McGivern then produced the flags, which he stated had been got up by the ladies of the town...and which would be presented to the battalion next Queen's Birthday. Both are handsome banners, on one of which is the motto, 'Proaris et focus' and the words 'Volunteer Militia' surrounded by a maple leaf wreath and the Canadian coat of arms." No record of the presentation is known to exist.

The existence of these colours is unknown.

Flags belonging to No. 3 company of Thorold, and No. 6 Company of Port Dalhousie, dated 1866 and 1863 respectively, are known to have existed, but their whereabouts are unknown.

The Thorold Company of this Battalion received a large Union Jack from the ladies of Thorold represented by Misses Juliet Grenville, Sarah Winslow, Addie Carroll, and Jane Avery at Thorold on 26 July 1866 when the Company returned from Fort Erie after the Fenian Raid of that year.

44th Welland Battalion of Infantry, 1897

The Battalion received these colours at Niagara Camp on 17 June 1897 at a ceremony on the common just west of Fort George. On parade was the remainder of the Brigade: the 20th, 34th, 36th, and 77th Battalions, the 2nd Dragoons, the Royal Canadian Dragoons and the 4th, 7th, and 9th Field Batteries. Three thousand spectators were on hand. The march past included the cavalry and artillery at the trot and the infantry at the trail arms. The colours were eventually laid up in Christ Church, Niagara Falls, on 30 June 1929.

The Whig Standard of 18 June 1897 refers to "ceremonies in connection with the odd colors," so this Battalion must have had colours previously. To add to that suspicion, the Regimental history notes that in 1887, the 44th Battalion was given the unusual distinction to use a special motto on its colours: Mors Aut Victoria. It is not certain whether this was meant to be translated Death or (Queen) Victoria, or Death or Victory. The distinction would have been granted ten years before these colours were presented, and lends credulance to the suspicion that the unit had a previous set of colours.

81st Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1916

The Battalion received these colours on 22 April 1916 in Toronto on the "parade ground south of the armouries," four days before entraining for Halifax and subsequently sailing to Britain.

The colours were donated by the St. Catharines Recruiting League, which included the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire and the Woman's Patriotic League, who had members at the presentation ceremony. The Globe reported, "The presentation by Mayor Burgoyne (of St. Catharines) was next made. Majors Cowan and Bradley received the colours, and they were paraded by the two junior subalterns of the battalion."

In all likelihood the colours were temporarily laid up in Westminster Abbey with others of the Canadian Expeditionary Force while in Britain.

After the War they were laid up in St. George's Church, St. Catharines on 14 May 1922.

98th (Lincoln and Welland) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1918

These colours were never presented. The manufacture of the colours was sponsored by the citizens and school children of Niagara Falls, but the Battalion left for France before presentation could be arranged. Years later, a veteran of the Battalion noticed them being used as part of a Remembrance Day display in a drug store window in Niagara Falls, and was able to arrange for their deposit in St. Andrew's United Church in Niagara Falls. In the 1960's, when the Church was being redecorated, the colours were handed over to Headquarters Company of the Regiment, being the last sub-unit to exist in Welland County. The colours are now lodged in the Officer's Mess.

176th (Niagara Rangers) Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, 1917

Presented on 10 April 1917 at Niagara Falls, these colours were first deposited at the Welland County Court House in Welland, Ontario. They are now laid up in the Drummond Hill Presbyterian Church, Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The Lincoln Regiment, 1926

Miss Francis Eccles of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire presented this stand of colours at Montebello Park on 23 May 1926.

The old colours, dating back to 1876 were trooped for the last time at that ceremony.

The new colours of The Lincoln Regiment were to serve the Regiment until 30 October 1949 when they were laid up in St. Georges's Church, St. Catharines. This was ten years after the amalgamation of The Lincoln Regiment and The Lincoln and Welland Regiment in 1936 to form the present-day unit.

No Battle Honours from the First World War were emblazoned on the new colours of The Lincoln Regiment, as the Battle Honours Committee did not promulgate those honours until 1928.

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, 1959

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment was created on 15 December 1936 on the amalgamation of The Lincoln Regiment and The Lincoln and Welland Regiment. The Regiment used the colours of The Lincoln Regiment until 1949.

No colours were issued to the 1st Battalion overseas.

By 12 October 1955, new colours had been designed for the Regiment, but the design of the Regimental Colour carried only the Battle Honours from the First World War, so that presentation of colours was delayed until the Battle Honours from the Second World War were approved in 1957. Fifteen honours were approved for emblazonment, five from the First World War, and ten from the Second World War.

Her Majesty The Queen nominated Colonel, The Honourable John Keiller MacKay, DSO, VD, QC, LLD, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, as her representative to present the colours at Queenston Heights, 23 May 1959. Four one-hundred man Guards under the command of Lieutenant Colonel James L. Dandy, DSO, CD, where on parade, and receiving the Queen's Colour was Lt. J.P. Tyminksi and the Regimental, 2 Lt R.W. Yorke.

General Sir Miles Dempsey, GBE, KCB, DSO, MC, Honourary Colonel of the Regiment had these words:

    "This is a great occasion in your history, and I am indeed sorry that distance prevents my being present and giving you my good wishes in person.

    Though the pattern of war has changed, and your new Colours will not be carried into battle, they will be as of old and inspiration to you all, and a symbol of all that is finest in your tradition. Guard them well.

    You have a great responsibility, for your history is full of examples of courage and endurance, and the spirit which does not admit defeat. It is for you to show that you can maintain this great record of peace, and add to it, if need be, in war. I am sure you will."

The Colours were first trooped in Montebello Park that fall, at the annual Bergen-op-Zoom Day reunion. The march past was taken by Lieutenant Colonel W.S. Trail, upwards of ninety years of age and the oldest surviving Commanding Officer. In the afternoon two plaques were unveiled in St. George's Church commemorating the Colours of the Regiment previously laid up there.

Trooping the Colours - 1963

The Colours were trooped three times more. The second trooping took place on 6 October 1963 in Fort George, the Inspecting Officer being Major General Roger Rowley, DSO, ED, CD. The Queen's Colour was carried by Lieutenant William A. Smy, the Regimental by Lieutenant Grant House.

The Regimental Colour was trooped on 6 October 1969 on the 175th Anniversary of the Regiment. The Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Colonel R.W. Yorke, CD and the Inspecting Officer Lieutenant General Michael R. Dare, DSO, CD, who as a Major briefly commanded the 1st Battalion in Europe during World War II. The Queen's Colour was carried by Lieutenant Wayne D. Hill and the Regimental Colour by Lieutenant Kenneth Petkau.

The final trooping was on 12 June 1994, commemorating the Regiment's 200th anniversary. The Commanding Officer was Lieutanant Colonel G.E. Dagenais, CD and the parade was inspected by His Honour Colonel H.R. Jackman, CM, K St J, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. The Queen's Colour was carried by Lieutenant Thomas N. Cyopeck and the Regimental Colour by Second Lieutanant M.A. Ciolfi.

The Lincoln and Welland Regiment, 2012

By 2012, the colours presented in 1959 had served the Regiment for over fifty years and were becoming worn. On 15 September of that year, new colours were presented at Queenston Heights by the Regiment's Colonel-in-Chief, The Countess of Wessex. The Regiment was under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Allan W. Stoyka, CD.

The design of the Queen's Colour of the current stand of Colours is that of the new style, that is of the Canadian flag throughout with the Crown surmounting an annulus bearing the words The Lincoln and Welland Regiment. The Regimental Colours bears the above device with the escallop in the centre, surrounded by a wreath of maple leaves and the Regimental motto. Of the thirty Battle Honours awarded the Regiment, the following are emblazoned:

War of 1812
First World War
Ypres, 1915, '17
Festubert, 1915
Somme, 1916
Arras, 1917, '18
Hill 70
Hindenburg Line
Pursuit to Mons
Second World War
The Laison
The Scheldt
The Lower Maas
Kapelsche Veer
The Reineland
The Hochwald
Twente Canal
North-West Europe 1944-1945

The City of Eekloo, Belgium, presented the 1st Battalion with a flag, English on one side, Flemish on the other, commemorating the liberation of the city by the 1st Battalion in 1944. That flag is in the Officer's Mess.

As the Colours are not taken on exercise or operations, an unofficial "Camp Flag" was designed in 1992. It consists of the regimental badge on a blue field surrounded by a red border. The Regiment had a number of these flags produced for purchase by members and as presentation items. This flag is flown with the National Flag in front of Lake Street Armoury.

Lincoln and Welland Camp Flag

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This is not an official project of the Canadian Armed Forces or the Department of National Defence. Address any questions about this page or the Regiment to Major A.D. Woolley at awoolley@iaw.on.ca