Royal Canadian Dragoons to immortalize their contribution to the Afghan combat with new Colours

Article / December 9, 2022 / Project number: 22-0131

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Generally referred to as “Colours”, Guidons, Standards and Colours are important ceremonial flags for Canadian Army Infantry and Armoured Units. Despite looking like an ordinary decorative flag, Colours serve as symbol of a unit’s history and a reminder of the sacrifices made by its past and current members. Colours are also displayed on the guns of Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery members in a similar manner. Colours take their unique signification from the Battle Honours that they sport. Earning them is no easy task and requires participation in an armed conflict. As such, each Battle Honour inscribed on the Colours marks a great sacrifice made by previous members of the corresponding unit. Upon reception, Battle Honours can be added to the Colours; a flag can have up to 10 of them on it. If a new one is to be added to a flag, a Presentation of Colours or Guidon, will be held to present the new flag, sporting the new honour.

Making its debut during the 17th century within British and Commonwealth military units, Colours were used as a mean to demonstrate the distinct identities of units. They also served as a practical indicator of the location of a unit’s Commander Post or Headquarters. It was only after the battle of Gibraltar that units began to use Colours as mediums for displaying Battle Honours. Modern Colours are no longer flown in theater of war and serve a symbolic and ceremonial-centric purpose.

The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) was the latest unit to receive a new Battle Honour; more specifically the “Afghanistan” Battle Honour, nodding to their contribution to this decade-long conflict. This addition to the RCD Colour is the 26th Battle Honour earned by the Regiment since they received their first one for the Northwest Canada Battle in 1885, following their participation in mitigating the North-West Rebellion. This addition will join the six other Battle Honours that currently figure on the Colour of the RCD. While many of the ones they received are not displayed, they all remain as important in commemorating the RCD’s sacrifices made and their commitment to Canada and its interests.

The Presentation of Guidon for the RCD has been held on December 9, 2022, in Petawawa, Ontario. During this formal ceremony, held at the Worthington Parade Square, Her Excellency the Governor General, the Right Honourable Mary Simon, presented the new Guidon. While this military ceremony is not open to all, the public can witness it through pictures captured by imagery teams on site and shared on our social media platforms.

Presentations of Colours and Guidons are not regularly held events but five will have been held by the end of 2023. In 2022, the Queen’s York Rangers and the Windsor Regiment (RCAC) were also given the “Afghanistan” Battle Honour. They will be followed by the Royal New Brunswick Regiment and the Royal 22e Régiment in 2023.

Ultimately, the presentation of the new “Afghanistan” Battle Honour will be a proud moment for all past and present members of the receiving regiments. The recognition of their success through their endured sacrifices and hardships is paramount in both instilling pride in unit members and memorializing heroic and necessary action during times of conflict.

To learn more about the past and upcoming Presentation of Colours and Guidons, click here.

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