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This incredible item was brought into me on Christmas Eve by a chap who had brought it from Rhodesia. (Zimbabwe). His Father had been resident in Rhodesia and also served in the S.A. Army.

Amongst his late Father's possessions was this Regimental Colour - with Battle Honours for East Africa - 1916-1917.

We have no idea which Regt. held the Colour - or, what happened to them. The chances are that they were raised to fight in SWA or, East Africa - continued with this Colour until 1918 - and were then disbanded. They could have been Rhodesian, Sth. African or, East African.

Colours are usually hung in Churches - where the silk disintegrates and then they are encased in netting. This is how this one has been preserved.

Private collections do NOT have Colours , they are regarded as too precious - however, I would like to see this one go to a home where it will be preserved and honoured. I will ensure that the price allows this. Should anyone have an interest in a WW1 Colour - please IM me. You all know that I do not sell from our Forum - however, this needs to find the right 'home'.

p.s. The lettering that shows through is where the silk has gone.

I only have a photo of one side - will add more if anyone is interested. You will see from the sewn standard holder on the left, that it was carried in ceremonies. Size wise - the two hands on the top corners will give an indication.

I look forward to your comments - and, any help you can offer with identification.

post-6209-019614400 1293706212_thumb.jpg

Edited by Mervyn Mitton

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Hi Mervyn - Rarer than you think - this particular pattern of Kings Colour(not a Regimental Colour) was usually presented to "Service" battalions i.e. "war raised" units of regular battalions and it was the only Colour they were presented with. This colour does indeed belong to an Infantry regiment(Cavalry units had Guidons) with a South African connection and I think the original owner could be your clue as to which unit it belonged too.

With these particular "Kings Colours" they weren't all hung in consecrated building(churches) as many "Service" battalions in the UK were raised locally among local communities and even by individuals and so some were hung in Town Halls preserving the link with those who served and the local community.

If you go to the Northumberland Fusiliers thread in the GMIC you'll see a photo I posted of these same Colour being presented in 1919 to a number of "Service" Battalions still serving in France. The Honours weren't added until post war, which was decided by a committee in the War Office.

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Maybe the fact that it is just 17-18 will allow quite a large amount of possible units to fall away as possibilities?

Off the top of my head, I think most SA troops were back home by then...

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Graham - thankyou for that valuable info. and the photo of the Presentations. Hopefully this will give a better base for doing some research. I always find it amazing, the things people have 'tucked' away in their cupboards.

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Mervyn

Greetings

My guess, considering the location and the dates, is that this was a Rhodesia Native Regiment Colour.

I certainly hope it is, as then it is a real discovery.

Harry

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Mervyn

Greetings

My guess, considering the location and the dates, is that this was a Rhodesia Native Regiment Colour.

I certainly hope it is, as then it is a real discovery.

Harry

Mervyn,

According to my copy of "No Insignificant Part - The Rhodesia Native Regiment and the East Africa Campaign of the First World War" by Timothy J. Stapleton:

"In 1925, King George V granted the battle honours of "East Africa 1916-1918" to First RNR and 'East Africa 1917-1918" to Second RNR, despite the fact that the regiment had been disbanded several years before.

The regimental colours of First RNR were laid up in Salisbury Anglican Cathedral and those of Second RNR, which had never really operated as a separate battalion, were placed in a Bulawayo "Native Church."

These artifacts were forgotten about and neglected for decades, Years later, in the early 1960s, the First RNR regimental colour was discovered to have nearly disintegrated in its plastic case. In the early 1970s, the old Second RNR colour was found in a church cupboard.

The reference given for the last statement is: NAZ, S3021/3/1/2, Papers of Colonel G.E. Wells, Memo, Salisbury, March 1962, Colonel G.E. Wells, President of Rhodesian African Rifles Association; Dean of Salisbury Cathedral to Lieutenant Colonel N.G. Jardine, 4 December 1964; Notes on Regimental Customs (RAR) 1974.

NAZ refers to the National Archives of Zimbabwe

So it appears that these could be the colours of the Second RNR.

Hope this helps.

Jean-Paul

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Hi Jean-Paul - could well be, what I forgot to add was that the "HONOURS" born on these Colours were to be standard throughout the individual service battalions of each regiment, even if they never served in a certain theatre. For instance only the 8th(Service)Bn, Northumberland Fusiliers ever served at Gallipoli, but the 'Honour' they received for that theatre was borne on all of the KC's of all the Service Battalions of the Regiment.

Post 1920's as well as the "Honours" - battalion numerals in Roman numerals and Regimental titles within the centre section were added at public expense and I believe placed upon the Colours by the Royal School of Needlework.

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post-821-073182400 1295024695_thumb.jpg

This is what the Colour would eventually look like. This is the the KC of the 27th(Service)Battalion,Northumberland Fusiliers(4th Tyneside Irish), which have since been restored to their former glory and I was lucky enough to be invited to the laying up of the newly restored colour, which is now encased.

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Graham - Jean-Paul and Harry. My sincere thanks to you for your research which seems to not only have identified an important King's Colour - but also, explains why it is probably still in the original 'presentation' condition. This being - quite simply - that it was presented after the Regt. was disbanded and that it was 'laid-up' in a small local church in Matabeland and then forgotten.

I have had quite a lot of interest and of course - for a collector of the 1st World War, it would have to be the centrepiece. I have never heard of a King's Colour being sold - has anyone else ?

I would prefer this to be sold privately - rather then in an auction - and when I can establish a possible price, I will offer it to the members who have shown interest.

Meanwhile here are some further photos - showing also, the reverse. Since it was re-discovered in the 1970's the netting on the reverse probably dates from that time.

post-6209-010369200 1295183028_thumb.jpg

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Unfortunately Leigh - there is a 'reverse' discrimination in place these days - Zimbabwe would probably feel that the Regt' had been traitors !

I would rather see such an unusual and historic item in the hands of a dedicated collector - also, I cannot lose sight of the fact that I paid a lot .

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Harry - thankyou for adding this most interesting account of the last battle fought by RNR before being withdrawn. Your account makes one realise why they received a King's Colour in recognition of their service.

I would also like to congratulate on the excellent article - we are so fortunate on GMIC to have so much knowledge and experience available to us.

p.s. A little comment on your account of where KAR attacked their own troops by mistake - you make the point that 'young Askaris tended to fire first !' Under those circumstances - and in dense bush, I don't blame them..........

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Hello,

What a fascinating piece. I think that the clue to the Unit identification rests within the date East Africa 1917-1918, suggesting that the original recipients were either late participants or possibly a war raised unit who didn’t step into the affray until the last two years of the war. Quite a logical assumption I would hope considering that Anthony Bakers book: Battle Honours of the British and Commonwealth Armies., lists the battle honour for this campaign as: East Africa 1914-1918.

Already mentioned as a likely candidate: The Rhodesia Native Regiment are a quite logical choice - all previous points considered, although I note that their first engagement during the East African campaign was slightly prior than that embroidered on the flag with the occupation of Songea in September 1916, which possibly puts them in the area of active operations three months earlier than expected. Of course this doesn't rule them out, but it would be interesting to know at what point this regiment was demobilised and or absorbed/amalgated under post war establishments - as it would appear that most regimental colours seem to have been approved/presented during the mid to late 1920’s-30’s., so you are probably looking for a unit that was still on its feet during this period.

Other points that I think should also be brought in to play, are as already mentioned the last known source and the likely relevance of this whilst trying to determine a positive identification. My gut feeling here is that the passage of time has probably swallowed up any true potentialities considering a genealogical military lead - If indeed there was ever any in the first place. Although, it might be worth attempting to contact the Royal School of Needlework directly, as they are still in operation today I understand, and who knows - they may even hold records of their past needlepoint.

Finally, Rhodesian units notwithstanding, it may also prove useful to take into consideration those battalions of the K.A.R. that were raised after 1916, along with those of the Cape Corps, Nyasaland, South Africa and India who also saw service in East Africa during the Great War.

Best regards,

Zob123

This incredible item was brought into me on Christmas Eve by a chap who had brought it from Rhodesia. (Zimbabwe). His Father had been resident in Rhodesia and also served in the S.A. Army.

Amongst his late Father's possessions was this Regimental Colour - with Battle Honours for East Africa - 1916-1917.

We have no idea which Regt. held the Colour - or, what happened to them. The chances are that they were raised to fight in SWA or, East Africa - continued with this Colour until 1918 - and were then disbanded. They could have been Rhodesian, Sth. African or, East African.

Colours are usually hung in Churches - where the silk disintegrates and then they are encased in netting. This is how this one has been preserved.

Private collections do NOT have Colours , they are regarded as too precious - however, I would like to see this one go to a home where it will be preserved and honoured. I will ensure that the price allows this. Should anyone have an interest in a WW1 Colour - please IM me. You all know that I do not sell from our Forum - however, this needs to find the right 'home'.

p.s. The lettering that shows through is where the silk has gone.

I only have a photo of one side - will add more if anyone is interested. You will see from the sewn standard holder on the left, that it was carried in ceremonies. Size wise - the two hands on the top corners will give an indication.

I look forward to your comments - and, any help you can offer with identification.

post-6209-019614400 1293706212_thumb.jpg

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Here's the copy of the letter I mentioned to you Merv, refering to the estimate for repair of 1st Bn Rhodesian African Rifles Colours in 1993.

The estimate was obtained through "The South Wales Borderers & Monmouthshire Regimental Museum of The Royal Regiment of Wales".

The letter was published in The Rhodesian Army Association's "Lion & Tusk" magazine, Volume 4, No. 3, of March 1993.

At that time efforts were to be made to finance the conservation of these Colours, which were presented by HM Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother in July 1953, I don't know if those efforts were successful.

Edited by leigh kitchen

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Zob123 - thankyou for your insightful comments. I am now - in my own mind at least - fairly certain that they are for the 2nd Bn. of the RNL. There has been some incredible info. found to help support this view - although, as we all know, you must always keep an open mind. British involvement in East Africa was really from 1916 and the 1st. Bns. Colour has the dates 1916-18 - this is still hanging in the now, Harare Cathedral and app. in very poor condituon. One has to remember that the old Rhodesia - and indeed still in the present Zimbabwe - it is two main tribes - the Mashona and the Matabele. Mashonaland ended up with Salisbury (now Harare) as it's main centre and Matabeland had Bulawayo. This was the origin of the two separate Bn's. - Mashona - 1st. Bn. - Matabele - 2nd. Bn. The two tribes do not get on well - the Matabele are first cousins to the Zulus and the first thing Mugabe did in 1980 was to send to Bulawayo his Nth. Korean trained troops and they killed nearly 30,000 Matabele.

Leigh - thankyou for posting that costing - amazing that you found it's location. I am trying to work out how the Queen Mother presented the Colour in 1953 - from previous posts I understood the Bn's. were disbanded immed. post WW1 and that the Colours were presented to the Govt. in 1925 ?

Perhaps there was an earlier restoration in 1953 ? Anyway, many thanks. I still have the Colours - they are so rare to come-on the open market that I am nervous of making a mistake and have them going into the Auction circuit. This would certainly lead to damage as they are quite frail.

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