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Thursday 23 July, 2015
More than 300 soldiers have travelled to Canberra from across Australia to take part in a landmark national parade commemorating the Centenary of the Army’s 2nd Division, first raised in Egypt on the 26 July 1915.
They include 20 members of the 9th Brigade based here, in South Australia. Their role is to escort and carry the Queen’s and Regimental Colours for the 10th Battalion and Queen’s and Regimental Colours for the 27th Battalion, The Royal South Australia Regiment and the Guidons of the 3rd/9th Light Horse (South Australian Mounted Rifles). They will also escort the Colours of Adelaide Universities Regiment formed after World War II.
For the families, friends and well-wishers braving Canberra’s winter weather to watch the parade, it will be rare opportunity to see all the Colours, Guidons and Banners of 2nd Division units paraded in one place.
It will also be an opportunity to experience ‘living history’.
The history of each battalion and regiment represented at the parade is emblazoned on its Colours, which bear the names of its Battle Honours; the public recognition and commemoration of an outstanding achievement on the battlefield by a unit or formation of the Australian Army.
For the 10th and 27th Battalions, for example, three of those Honours include Pozieres; awarded for operations conducted as part of the 1916 British Somme offensive, including the battle of Mouquet Farm, Menin Road; awarded for offensive operations, conducted as part of the Third Battle of Ypres, which secured part of the Menin Ridge and the subsequent defence of this sector in the face of intense German counter-attacks and Polygon Wood; awarded for participation in the operations to secure strongly defended German positions in the vicinity of Polygon Wood and to consolidate positions on the Menin Road Ridge. All these Battle Honours on the Western Front have become part of our military history and national memory.
Between both of these historic battalions over 40 Battle Honours and three Victoria Crosses were awarded in the Great War 1914-1918.
Throughout history, Colours have been awarded to Infantry units in two forms. Rectangular in shape, they comprise the Queen’s or King’s Colour – denoting loyalty to the Sovereign – and the Regimental Colour marking loyalty to the Regiment. Both are consecrated objects, and in times past they were regarded as a rallying point or safe haven in battle.
Light cavalry units carry Guidons – a pennant held high on a pike that would have served its own purpose in battles past.
Today, Colours and Guidons are no longer carried into battle, but remain a powerful symbol of our proud history.
The 2nd Division Centenary parade is a timely reminder of the legacy that our units continue to uphold: a legacy committed to courage in battle and ‘service before self’ that has endured for more than a century.