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Encyclopedia > Battle honour

A battle honour is a military tradition practiced in the Commonwealth countries of the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand and is an official acknowledgement rewarded to military units for their achievements in specific wars or operations of a military campaign. The English noun Commonwealth dates originally from the fifteenth century. ... The United States detonated an atomic bomb over Nagasaki on August 9, 1945. ... Planning, calculating, or the giving or receiving of information. ... In the military sciences, a military campaign encompass related military operations, usually conducted by a defense or fighting force, directed at gaining a particular desired state of affairs, usually within geographical and temporal limitations. ...

A battle honour is granted through the Royal Prerogative of the monarch of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, and by the 20th century was granted only after lengthy historical review of a particular conflict. It is comparable to a unit citation in other national traditions. The Royal Prerogative is a body of customary authority, privilege, and immunity, recognised in common law jurisdictions possessing a monarchy as belonging to the Crown alone. ... A citation is a credit or reference to another document or source which documents both influence and authority. ...


The origin of battle honours

For the British Army, the need to adopt a system to recognize military units' battlefield accomplishments was apparent since its formation as a standing army in the later part of the 17th century. Although the granting of battle honours had already been in place at the time, it was not until 1784 that infantry units were authorized to bear battle honours on their colours. Before then, a regiment's colours were practical tools for rallying troops in the battle field and not quite something for displaying the unit's past distinctions. The British Army is the land armed forces branch of the British Armed Forces. ... An army composed of full time professional soldiers form a standing army. ... (16th century - 17th century - 18th century - more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 17th century was that century which lasted from 1601-1700. ... 1784 was a leap year starting on Thursday (see link for calendar). ...

The oldest battle honour, chronologically, is Tangier 1662-80, granted to the 2nd Regiment of Foot, or The Tangier Regiment, the senior English regiment in the Union (after the Royal Scots the senior Scottish and British Regiment), for their protracted 23-year defence of the Tangier Garrison. The battle honour is still held by the successor regiment of the 2nd Regiment of Foot, the Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment [1]. During these early years of a British standing army, however, a regiment needed only to engage the enemy with musketry before it was eligible for a battle honour. The Tangier Regiment served as part of the British Army in the Tangier Garrison from 1662 until its evacution in 1684. ... Official name The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) Colonel-in-Chief Honorary-General HRH Mary, Princess Royal (1918) HRH Anne, Princess Royal (1983) Nicknames Pontius Pilates Bodyguard Motto Nemo me impune lacessit (Nobody touches me with impunity) Anniversaries Marches Quick March: Dumbartons Drums Slow March: Garb of Old... Tangier Garrison was a military installation in Tangier held by the English from 1661 to 6 February 1684 when it returned to being part of Morocco. ... The Princess of Waless Royal Regiment (Queens and Royal Hampshires) is an infantry regiment of the British Army, part of the Queens Division. ...

The need to develop a centralized system to oversee the selection and granting of battle honours arose in the 19th century following the increase of British military engagements during the expansion of the British Empire. Thus in 1882, a committee was formed to adjudicate applications of battle honour claims. This committee, later called the Battles Nomenclature Committee in the Second World War, still maintains its functions in the British Army today. Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ... 1882 (MDCCCLXXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar) of the Gregorian calendar or a common year starting on Tuesday of the 12-day slower Julian calendar. ... Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ...


A battle honour may be granted to infantry/cavalry regiments or battalions, but with the exception of Royal Navy ships and Royal Air Force squadrons, they are rarely granted to sub-units such as companies, platoons and sections in the army. Battle honours are usually presented in the form of a name of a country, a region or a city where the regiment's distinguished act took place, together with the year when it occurred. Infantry of the Royal Irish Rifles during the Battle of the Somme in World War I. Infantry are soldiers who fight primarily on foot with small arms in organized military units, though they may be transported to the battlefield by horses, ships, automobiles, skis, or other means. ... Kircholm, a 1925 painting by Wojciech Kossak. ... A regiment is a military unit, larger than a company and smaller than a division. ... In military terminology, a battalion consists of two to six companies typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel. ... The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the oldest of the British armed services (and is therefore the Senior Service). ... The Royal Air Force (RAF) is the air force branch of the British Armed Forces. ... A Squadron is a grouping of aircraft, naval vessels, armoured fighting vehicles or soldiers. ... A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 100-200 soldiers. ... See also Platoon (movie) and platoon (automobile) for the concept for reducing traffic congestion. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ...

Not every battle fought will automatically result in the granting of a battle honour. Conversely, a regiment or a battalion might obtain more than one battle honour over the course of a larger operation. During the Falklands War in 1982, for instance, the 2nd Battalion of the Scots Guards had played a crucial role in the capturing of Mount Tumbledown (see Battle of Mount Tumbledown). As a result, the battalion was awarded two battle honours for the same war, one for a specific action "Tumbledown Mountain" and one for the overall conflict "Falkland Islands 1982." The Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry likewise received an honour for both "Kapyong" and "Korea 1951-1953". Combatants United Kingdom Argentina Casualties 258 killed [1] 777 wounded 59 taken prisoner 649 killed 1,068 wounded 11,313 taken prisoner The Falklands War (Spanish: Guerra de las Malvinas) was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South... 1982 (MCMLXXXII) was a common year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar. ... The Scots Guards is a regiment of the British Army, part of the Guards Division, and have a long and proud history stretching back hundreds of years. ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ... Princess Patricias Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI) is an infantry regiment in the Canadian Forces (CF), belonging to 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG). ...

A unit need not have defeated an adversary in order to earn a battle honour. For instance, although the Hong Kong Volunteer Defence Corps were unable to stop the invading Japanese army from capturing Hong Kong in 1941 (see also the Battle of Hong Kong), the unit was nevertheless awarded the battle honour "Hong Kong" for its actions. The Royal Hong Kong Regiment (The Volunteers) (RHKR(V)) (Chinese: 皇家香港軍團(義勇軍)) was a unit of the Territorial Army, the reserve force of the British Army. ... Japans honor guard often marches to greet the arrival of foreign dignitaries. ... This article is about the year. ... Combatants British Army, Canadian Army, British Indian Army Imperial Japanese Army Commanders Mark Aitchison Young Sakai Takashi Strength 15,000 troops 50,000 troops Casualties 4,500 killed; 8,500 POWs 2,750 killed; 1,500 wounded For the movie, see The Battle of Hong Kong (film). ...

Supporting corps/branches such as medical, service, ordnance, artillery, engineer, or transport do not receive battle honours. Commonwealth artillery does not maintain battle honours as they carry neither colours nor guidons--though their guns by tradition are afforded many of the same respects and courtesies. However, both the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers were in 1832 granted by King William IV the right to use the Latin Ubique, meaning everywhere, as a battle honour. This is worn on the cap badge of both corps. The practice was later extended to these same corps in the successor Commonwealth armed forces. William IV (William Henry) (21 August 1765 – 20 June 1837) was King of the United Kingdom and of Hanover from 26 June 1830 until his death. ...

The granting of battle honours in the Second World War

A special committee known as the Battles Nomenclature Committee was formed in Britain during the Second World War, composed of military representatives from all Commonwealth nations. The committee's responsibility was to advise the Army Headquarters on matters pertaining to the granting of battle honours. Mushroom cloud from the nuclear explosion over Nagasaki rising 18 km into the air. ...

At the end of the war, the committee submitted a report to the Army Headquarters containing:

  • The definitions of war theatre, battle, action and engagement
  • A detail list of all theatres, battles, actions and engagements throughout the entire war for which regiments could be granted battle honours

A copy of this document was then forwarded to each regiments' honours committee. By army orders a regimental honours committee woukd comprise at least five officers of the regiment. These officers should include the regiment's past and present commanding officers as well as Honorary Colonel and Lieutenant Colonel. In warfare, a theater or theatre is normally used to define a specific geographic area within which armed conflict occurs. ... Generally, a battle is an instance of combat in warfare between two or more parties wherein each group will seek to defeat the others. ... For other uses of War, see War (disambiguation). ... In the U.S. Army, Air Force and Marine Corps, a lieutenant colonel is a commissioned officer superior to a major and inferior to a colonel. ...

Upon a review of this list, and based on the actions undertaken by the regiment during the war, the regimental honours committee could then submit an application to the Army Headquarters to claim their corresponding battle honours. In cases where regiments took part in actions which were not listed, the honours committees could also submit additional claims in their applications. Whatever the situation, it was the regimental honour committee's responsibility to submit evidence to proove that the regiment concerned was worthy of the battle honours they claimed.

Once the final approval was granted in Britain, a public announcement would be made. The ceremonial granting of new battle honours would be made in the form of the presentation of new Regimental and Sovereign's Colours to the regiment by the British monarch or an agent of the Crown, such as the Governor General of a commonwealth dominion. A Governor-General (in Canada, Governor General) is most generally a governor of high rank, or a principal governor ranking above ordinary governors [1]. The most common contemporary usage of the term is to refer to the royally-appointed territorial governor of a region, or royal representative in a country...


In British and Commonwealth armies a unit's battle honours can normally be found engraved, painted or embroidered on:

Battle honours are listed in choronological order, either in a single list, or in multiple even numbers of columns, reading left to right, and top to bottom. On drums, the honours are listed on scrolls, usually with the cap badge central, and other unit devices present (such as a representation of a unit distinction or motto.) In the days when battle was conducted at close quarters, it was necessary for soldiers to be able to determine where, during the heat of battle, their regiment was. ... In the days when battle was conducted at close quarters, it was necessary for soldiers to be able to determine where, during the heat of battle, their regiment was. ... Foot guards is a term used to describe elite infantry regiments. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Colours, standards and guidons. ... A guidon is a military standard that company-sized elements carry to signify their unit designation and corps affiliation. ... Queens Truncheon The Queens Truncheon is a ceremonial staff carried by the Royal Gurkha Rifles that serves as the equivalent of and is carried as the Colour. ... The Royal Gurkha Rifles is a regiment of the British Army, forming part of the Brigade of Gurkhas. ... Pipes and drums are synonymous with pipe band, and both commonly refer to bands comprised of musicians who play the Scottish Highland bagpipes and drums. ... A baldric is a wide, usually ornamental belt worn around the waist and over one shoulder that is typically used to carry weapons (such as swords). ... The term drum major describes several similar appointments in marching bands, drum and bugle corps, and pipe bands. ... Assorted maces For its symbolical derivative, see ceremonial mace. ... A pipe banner is a decorative flag for the Scottish Highland bagpipes. ...

The honours for the First and Second World War were restricted in that only a certain number of honours could be selected for emblazonment - ie appear on colours or drums. This was due to the large number of Battle Honours awarded. It is often the case that battle honours not carried on the colours (limited by space and design) will be emblazoned on drum major's baldric.

The Significance of Battle Honours

While Regimental colours and guidons are no longer carried on operations in British and Commonwealth military, as was their initial military function, customs the battle honours they carry are held in high esteem by military personnel. Regiments take pride in their battle honours, and the winning of further battle honours, as these are seen to enhance a unit's reputation.

It remains a tradition that whenever military personnel meet a colour or guidon, it must be saluted. This is not only because it is an object which represents the authority of the Crown, but also because the colours contain a regiment's battle honours, and thus represent the regiment's history and its dead. Saluting a colour or guidon is thus a pivotal act in retaining an awareness of regimental history and traditions--key in the functioning of the regimental system. It remains common for army instructors to ensure that their recruits have memorized and are able to recite all of their regiment's battle honours. Such methods are meant to bring the new soldier into the regimental ethos and sub-cultural by means of imprinting shared history. The Crown is a term which is used to separate the government authority and property of the state in a kingdom from any personal influence and private assets held by the current Monarch. ... A regiment is a military unit, larger than a company and smaller than a division. ... Ethos (ἦθος) is a Greek word originally meaning the place of living that can be translated into English in different ways. ...

In some cases where a battle honour was not granted, a special uniform distinction has been substituted. For example soldiers of the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment wear a cap badge on both the front and the rear of their hats. This so-called "back badge" is unique in the British Army and was awarded to the 28th Regiment of Foot for their actions at the Battle of Alexandria in 1801. Knowledge of that battle honour, represented by the back badge, is said to have encouraged the soldiers of the Gloucestershire Regiment in the defence of Gloster Hill during the Battle of the Imjin River in April 1951 during the Korean War.[1] The Wardrobe in Salisbury houses the RGBW regimental museum. ... A cap badge is a badge worn on the front of uniform headgear and distinguishes the wearers organisation. ... The 28th Regiment of North Gloucesteshire , nicknamed The Glorious Glosters was a British unit that fought in the battles of Waterloo and Quatre Bras during which they earned distinguished mention in the dispatches of the Duke of Wellington. ... The Egyptian city of Alexandria figured prominently in the military operations of Napoleons expedition of 1798. ... The Union Jack, flag of the newly formed United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. ... Cap badge and back badge of the Gloucestershire Regiment The Gloucestershire Regiment was an infantry regiment of the British Army. ... The hill designated Hill 235 during the Korean War is remembered as Gloster Hill because of the actions of the Gloucestershire Regiment (the Glorious Glosters) in following their orders to Hold on where you are during the Battle of the Imjin River 1951. ... The Battle of the Imjin took place between April 22 – April 25, 1951 during the Korean War. ... 1951 (MCMLI) was a common year starting on Monday; see its calendar. ... Combatants UN combatants: Republic of Korea United States United Kingdom Canada Communist combatants: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea People’s Republic of China Soviet Union Commanders Syngman Rhee Chung Il Kwon Douglas MacArthur Mark W. Clark Matthew Ridgway Kim Il-sung Choi Yong-kun Peng Dehuai Strength Note: All...

Other uniform distinctions include:

The Calgary Highlanders are a Land Force Reserve Infantry Regiment, headquartered at Mewata Armouries in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. ... The Canadian Scottish Regiment (Princess Marys) is an infantry regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces based in British Columbia. ... The Great Sphinx of Giza, with the Pyramid of Khafre in the background There are other articles with similar names; see Sphinx (disambiguation). ... The Egyptian city of Alexandria figured prominently in the military operations of Napoleons expedition of 1798. ... The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) (SCOTS DG) is the senior Scottish regiment of the British Army and Scotlands only cavalry regiment. ... Although they were presented with Regimental Colours, the regiments of Napoleon I tended to carry at their head the Imperial Eagle. ... The Scots Greys was the unofficial and later official name of a dragoon regiment of the British Army from 1678 until 1971, when they amalgamated to form The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys). ...


    1. ^ The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment: History
  • ^ Dancocks, Daniel G. Gallant Canadians: The Story of the 10th Canadian Infantry Battalion. (Calgary Highlanders Regimental Funds Foundation, Calgary, AB) Appendix A. See also canadiansoldiers.com article
  1. A list of British, Imperial and Commonwealth battlehonours at [2]

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