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Army flags (Australia)

Last modified: 2002-07-05 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: australia | army flag | stars: southern cross | royal western australia regiment 28th batallion |
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Army flags

On 12 September Roy Stilling wrote:

"I saw a letter from an Australian Army unit in an exhibition recently, and it seems the Australian Army's badge is similar to the British one, but with a royal crown above a leaping kangaroo over the crossed swords, rather than a Royal Crest. So does the Australian Army use this badge on a red field like the British Army's flag?"

I had a reply this week from the Australian Army's Ceremonial and Protocol office, who says:

'The Army's badge is the General Service badge (the 'Rising Sun'), but the badge you are referring to is the Australian Army emblem (a kangaroo ensigned with the crown and backed by crossed swords). It is only used by Land Command units; however, brigades within the Command use a badge of crossed swords behind the formation's number, below which is a boomerang (bearing the word 'BRIGADE') and above, the Crown (eg. 3rd Brigade's formation badge is the Arabic number 3 above a boomerang, backed by crossed swords, the whole ensigned with the crown).'

My enquiry also asked about Flag Stations. The Army says:

There are no special regulations for flag stations other than they are required to fly a large (3.6 x 1.8m) Australian National Flag on: Sundays, Australia Day, the anniversary of the Queen's accession to the Throne (6 Feb.), ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Queen's coronation (2 June), official birthday of the Queen (as directed by Army HQ), the Queen Mother's birthday (4 Aug), Australian National Flag Day (3rd Sept), when an artillery salute is fired at a flag station, when directed by the Governor-General, on other occasions as ordered by Army HQ.

The Australian Army does not have a flag. The Army is, however, the protector of the Australian National Flag.
david cohen, 1997-NOV-11

The custom of presenting banners to Australian army units started with the presentation of twenty King's banners in 1904 for service in the Boer War. The banners were presented by King Edward VII to 18 Light Horse regiments, RAA and the Australian Army Medical Corps. A further 23 were presented to infantry units in 1911. It was stipulated that the banners presented to the non-infantry units were not King's colours but

"...honourable insignia presented (by King Edward VII) as a special mark of favour in recognition of valuable services rendered in South Africa during the 1899-1902 war and that honorary distinctions are not to be borne on the banners."
There are currently three types of banners within the Australian Army:
  • the sovereign's banner, which may be presented to any corps or unit, including those with colours;
  • banners presented by other members of the royal family. These may be presented to any corps which does not have an entitlement to standards, guidons or colours, and
  • the governor-general's banner for training establishments that do not possess a colour.
Banners are accorded the same respect and compliments as the Queen's colours.
david cohen (quoting the latest issue of Army Newspaper), 1998-FEB-11

I believe that when David Cohen quoted that banners of a military unit, in regards to different types, are accorded high respect and compliment, he meant that they are treated with similar care, and saluted duly whilst being paraded.

They are not, however, accorded the same level of respect. A Queen's Colour belongs to an operational unit and is often won in battle, and thus accorded for great bravery or service. A Governor General's Banner is the domain of a Support Unit, awarded for great service or efficiency. This banner was created so that support units might have some form of lesser equivalent to aspire to. Therefore the Queen's Colour is accorded higher respects than that of a Governor General's Banner.
A.J.P. Scanlon, 13 Feb 2000

Earlier today (March 10) a ceremony was held in Canberra to mark to centenary of the Australian army. The colours, guidons and banners of every unit of the Army took part - the first time since the Queen's silver jubilee almost 25 years ago. The highlight of the day was the presentation of a banner to the Army by the Governor-General. The banner is scarlet, with gold fringes, cords and tassels. The obverse of the banner bears the coat-of-arms of Australia. The reverse bears the 'rising sun' badge of the Australian Army, flanked by several battle honours commemorating every major conflict the Army has involved in for the last 100 years (example: World War I). This was the first time a ceremonial banner truly representive of the Army as a whole was presented to the Army.
Miles Li, 10 March 2001

I would guess that it's just a one-off ceremonial item, not intended to replace any of the forces' flags, or the tri-service flag.
David Cohen, 10 March 2001

This flag is officially simply called the Army Banner, and several photos of it (obverse only, showing the coat-of-arms, not the reverse with the 'rising sun' badge) can be found in the photo gallery of the official Australian Army website
Miles Li, 7 May 2001

28th Battalion, Royal Western Australia Regiment

[Roway Western Australia Infantry Regiment, 28th Battalion] by T.F. Mills

The Australian system for infantry colors is very similar to the British system, consisting of a Queen's (national) colour and a Regimental Colour, but due to the longevity of Colours, many battalions still carry the UJ for a Queen's Colour. Regimental Colours follow the same rules as the British, with a wreath of wattle leaves substituting for the Union Wreath (roses, thistles and shamrocks). The Queen's Colour in the form of the Australian national flag also closely follows the British system while accommodating a different flag design.

The example is the 28th Battalion of The Royal Western Australia Regiment. Since 1960 the Reserves consist of one infantry regiment in each State, with a varying number of battalions. The battalions perpetuate old numbered battalions which fought in two world wars. The Queen's Colour uses the UJ in the canton as an almost identical replica of the British Queen's Colour. A gold-edged circle fills the center of the St. George Cross. Inside the circle is the regiment's name. Enclosed in the circle is the battalion number. Normally the battalion number is in Roman numerals, but XXVIII would not fit aesthetically so it is rendered in arabic numerals. The Regimental Colour, on the other hand, has the Roman numeral in the canton. The circle is surmounted by a Crown. The Regimental Colour contains eleven battle honour scrolls (South Africa, and ten selected honours from WWI). The Queen's Colour contains ten selected battle honour scrolls from WWII. These are arranged at the bottom of the flag where they interfere the least with the stars and balance the UJ in the canton.

The flag should be fringed.
T.F. Mills, 24 April 1999

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