The custom of carrying some form of distinguishing emblem as a rallying point in battle is a very old one. The earliest form appears to have been a bundle of hay attached to a pole. Later the Roman legions carried the Roman Eagle, each manipule (company) having its own ensign. From these early emblems the present type of Colour evolved, and though no longer carried by the British Army in action, they remain as the visible symbols of loyalty to the Crown and the spirit and traditions of the Regiment.
During the seventeenth century regiments had as many as ten or twelve Colours, these being in the nature of private banners with the Colonels’ and company commanders’ own armorial bearings worked thereon. In the reign of William III, Colours were reduced from one per company to three per regiment. A Royal Warrant of 1743 introduced two Colours of completely different style. The first was the Great Union, the second of the same colour as the Regiment’s facings. By a warrant of 1751, the former was named the King’s Colour, the latter the Regimental Colour.
According to the Royal Warrant of 1768:
The King's, or first colour of every regiment, is to be the Great Union throughout.
The second Colour to be the colour of the facing of the regiment, with the Union in the upper canton; except those regiments which are faced with red, white, or black. The second colour of those regiments which are faced with red or white, is to be the red cross of St. George in a white field, and the Union in the upper canton. The second colour of those which are faced with black, is to be St. George's cross throughout; Union in the upper canton; the three other cantons, black.
In the center of each colour is to be painted, or embroidered, in gold Roman characters, the number of the rank of the regiment, within the wreath of roses and thistles on the same stalk; except those regiments which are allowed to wear any royal devices, or ancient badges; on whose colours the rank of the regiment is to be painted, or embroidered, towards the upper corner. The size of the colours to be six feet six inches flying, and six feet deep on the pike. The length of the pike (spear and ferril included) to be nine feet ten inches. The cords and tassels of the whole to be crimson and gold mixed.
To the left, is the Regimental Colour of the 2nd Battalion, 10th North Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot, circa 1859. The 2nd Battalion was raised in Ireland in 1858 when the Government decided to expand the Army during the Indian Mutiny (1857-1859). Its first overseas posting was in South Africa in 1860 and then was transferred to India in 1865. Note the various Battle Honours. displayed on the colour. (Source: National Army Museum, London; NAM. 1962-07-30-2)
The History of Our Colours
The Tenth Regiment of Foot in American currently carries two sets of Colours, an Embroidered set made of silk and a Painted set made of nylon. Below are their stories.
The Embroidered Regimental Colour (see photograph above) was custom made of super lute silk by Hobson's in London. It was officially presented to His Majesty's Tenth Regiment of Foot American Contingent by the British Consul-General of Boston, Mrs. Lenore Storer, in April 1971, and was carried throughout the Bicentennial celebration.
Details of the embroidery from the Regimental Colour
Photos by Justin Murray Photography
The orignal Painted King's Colour was made of nylon circa 1973 with the Regimental number and "wreath of roses and thistles" design being painted on both sides of the flag by Private Matt Fallon (Regimental #47) of the Colonel's (Battalion) Company. This Colour was carried by the Regiment until replaced by the Emroidered King's Colour.
The Embroidered King’s Colour (see photograph above) was produced by the Royal School of Needlework in London with the aid of Major General Douglas Brown, RA, the moving force behind the famous Project Overlord Panels. A technique called passing-through embroidery was utilized, which allows for the detail of the pattern to be the same on both sides of the Colour. A single rose of the "wreath of roses and thistles" design took two highly skilled artisians four days to complete. Every facet of the design of the King's Colour was checked by Major Nicholas Dawnay, the leading authority on British Colours. A Colour of the 12th Foot in the Officers' Mess at Bassingborn Barracks was viewed through the courtesy of Major Ronald Baylis, Quartermaster of the Royal Anglian Regiment, as an example of the period style as no 10th Foot Colours of that time exist. After completion, the King's Colour was offically presented to the American Contingent by Major General Sir Christopher Welby-Everard, KBE, CB, DL in a ceremony in Chelmsford, Massachusetts on 20 April 1975.
Details of the embroidery from the King's Colour
Photos by Justin Murray Photography
Colonel Vincent J-R Kehoe retired from and disbanded the American Contingent in 1978 at which time he presented the Embroidered King's & Regimental Colours to the 10th Foot Royal Lincolnshire Regimental Association for the Museum at Sobraon Barracks in Lincoln, UK. When the Regimental Museum was closed, the Colours were transferred to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life.
The Regiment was subsequently reformed as His Majesty's Tenth Regiment of Foot in America, which found itself without a set of Colours. Thus, the Painted King's Colour was brought back into service. A bright yellow nylon flag, 6 feet by 6-1/2 feet, was ordered from the Flag Shop in Arlington, MA. Then Light Infantry Leuitenant Leonard Torto (Regimental #110), now our Surgeon and Assistant Quatermaster, painted the Regimental number "wreath of roses and thistles" design, and Great Union in the upper canton on both sides of this flag creating a Painted Regimental Colour. These two Colours still are proudly carried by the Tenth to this day.
On 10 February 1992 (Sobraon Day), Col Kehoe requested the Trustees of the Royal Lincolnshire Regimental Association to release the Colours to His Majesty's 10th Regiment of Foot in America. Permission was granted and arrangements were made for a two-part colour ceremony in 1993. The first part occurred on 15 April when the Colours were paraded to Lincoln Castle. On parade were members of the Royal Lincolnshire Regiment Old Comrades, the Royal British Legion and the Army Cadet Band. Maj. Gen. REJ Gerrard-Wright CB CBE DL, as President of the 10th Foot Royal Lincolnshire Regimental Association, handed the colours over to Lieutenant Colonel Richard E. Amsterdam (Regimental #104) and Lieutenant Christopher Smick (Regimental #7) of the Tenth Regiment in America.
On 28 August 1993, before a crowd of several hundred observers, the original colours of the American Contingent were re-presented to the 10th Regiment in America by Major General REJ Gerrard-Wright at Hanscom Air Force Base in Concord, Massachuetts. To the right, we see the colours parading before the saluting base. Taking the salute are Col Vincent J-R Kehoe, Major General REJ Gerrard Wright and Lieut R Wooddisse, ADC. As in the 18th century, the 10th Music was playing the slow march Scipio (Handel - 1726). It is played to this day at the Trooping of The Colour Ceremony at Horseguards as the Colours are marched Past the reviewing stand for the Queen's Birthday Parade.
Thus, the present day Tenth Foot is privileged to carry two sets of Colours that represent our more than 50 years of proudly honouring those who served their King almost 250 years ago. The majority of "Colour duty" is born by the Painted King's & Regimental Colours due to the more fragile nature of the Embroidered King's & Regimental Colours. However, our Painted Colours are no less revered as they are works of art in their own right produced by two dedicated members of the Regiment. The Embroidered Colours do make an appearnce in public now and again, at certain parades and special occassions. Their most recent appearance was at the "Boston Occupied" event in October of 2018 that commemorated the 250th anniversary of the arrival of British troops in Boston. At this event, the Tenth Foot marched at the head of the British Army through the streets of Boston with our Embroidered Colours proudly leading the way (Boston Occupied Photos & Video)