The Story of Colours in the Royal Marines, by Alastair J. Donald

The Story of Colours in the Royal Marines, by Alastair J. Donald

Booklet privately published by Royal Marines Historical Society in 2001, 128 pages. Booklet - c.18cm by 25cm (N7342)

From the rear side cover: Flags and banners have been carried by armies from time immemorial, originally providing rallying points and a means of identifying groups of soldiers in the heat of battle. In consequence they silently witnessed feats of the utmost bravery performed beneath them and in many cases they became battle scarred. Colours thus became a reminder of those killed in action in their presence and were treated as a memorial to· them. It is not only because of this that they have been traditionally treated with veneration, but during the ceremony of presentation they are consecrated and therefore received with the highest military honours, subsequently being regarded with respect and reverence.

The author was the last Parade Adjutant of Royal Marines Barracks Plymouth and is at present the Chairman of the Council of the Royal Marines Historical Society. This publication tells the story of the Colours that have been carried in the Royal Marines since the first regiment was raised for service at sea in 1664. He describes the changes made to the Colours when King George III honoured the Marines with the title 'Royal' in 1802 and gives details of the badges, some of which are unique, which were granted by King George IV twenty five years later. The reader will learn when Colours were last carried in action, why only one Battle Honour has ever been borne on Royal Marines Colours and how at one time young officers carrying them on parade were lifted off their feet by the wind.

With the help of sixteen colour pages and over thirty photographs, the author shows the changes in their design and describes many of the ceremonies connected with Colours in the Royal Marines over the years. Although in the Royal Marines today they are only carried by Commandos, the mistake made in the design of their first Colours in 1952, is recorded for posterity. In the appendices are details of the Parades held for Presentations in the last Century, a list of the early Battle Honours which might have been borne and a reminder of the composition of the Union Flag, which has always formed the basis of the Sovereign's Colour.

The condition of the booklet is generally good. The cover has one or two very minor scuffs, and some light wear along the edges and corners, but the staple spine is tight and intact, and all pages are clean, intact, unblemished and tightly bound.