The Colours in Carlisle Cathedral text taken from THE BORDER MAGAZINE, MARCH 1949
The old Colours of the 34th Regiment and 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment, which are hung in the Memorial Chapel, were repaired and cleaned at the Royal School of Needlework.
These Colours, which are illustrated, are as follows : Figs. 1 The Fontenoy Colours. These Colours had hanging over them the ” Laurel Wreath ” that was given to the 34th Foot for the. Battle of Fontenoy, 1745; these Laurel Wreaths have now fallen asunder and the ribbons have been placed in the form of a bow in the upper corner near the spear head. There is no record when these were placed in Carlisle Cathedral.
The 34th Foot was raised in 1702 but there are no records as to the date that the Regiment received its first set of Colours. The first reference that can be found is : ” 2nd May. 1803. New Colours presented to the 1st Battalion The 34th Foot, stationed at Madras.”
In 1800, while the 34th were in India, a 2nd Battalion was raised and became the 2nd Battalion of the 34th Regiment. When this Battalion received its Colours is not related, but the following record shows that they did have them on 30th January. 1817 :
“His Royal Highness the Prince Regent, on behalf of His Majesty, granted permission for the 2nd Batta¬lion of the 34th Regiment to bear the word Albuhera on its Colours.”
On the 24th April. 1817, the 2nd Battalion of the 34th Foot was disbanded. At this date the 1st Batta¬lion of the 34th Foot must still have had the Colours that were presented them at Madras in 1803, while the 2nd Battalion had the original Peninsular Colours referred to by the Prince Regent in January, 1817. The next extract from records is: “16th May, 1817. Per¬mission was granted to the 34th Regiment to bear the word Vittoria on their Colours,” and again : ” 25th August, 1817. Permission to bear in commemoration of distinguished conduct of the late 2nd Battalion of the Regiment, upon their Colours the words Pyrennees. Nivelle, Nive, Orthes.”
The 34th (1st Battalion) were still in India at this date, and whether these honours were put on the Colours presented to them in 1803 or whether they took over the Peninsular Colours of the 2nd Battalion is not known, but it is almost certain that they did take¬over these Colours in addition to their own, as will be explained later.
On 20th August, 1845, the 34th, then under com¬mand of Lieutenant-Colonel Airey, was presented with new Colours by Miss Campbell, daughter of Sir Guy Campbell, then commanding the Athlone District. These Colours also had an eventful career, accompanying the 34th to Corfe in 1845, Gibraltar in 1848. Barbados in 1850, and returned to England in June, 1853.
In 1854 the 34th proceeded to the Crimea, served throughout the war, and were granted the ‘honour Sevastopol to their Colours.
Every Regiment took their Colours to the Crimea. As at Waterloo, the Colours formed only too prominent a mark for the fire of the enemy, on many occasions both the officers carrying the Colours being killed. The battle of the Alma was the last appearance of British Colours in a European pitched battle.
The size of the Infantry Colours had remained prac¬tically the same since 1747, but in 1855 an alteration was made. “It is prescribed that Colours are to be 6 ft. 6 ins. flying and 6 ft. deep on the pike; the latter, spearhead and ferrule included, 9 ft. 6 ins. The size to be reduced 6 ins. in depth and 6 ins. in width, making the Colour 6 ft. in the fly and 5 ft. 6 ins. on the pike.”
In 1858 these large-size Colours were again reduced to 4 ft. flying and 4 ft. 6 ins. on the pike, the Colours to be surrounded or edged with gold fringe, mixed with crimson for the Queen’s and with silk the hue of the Regimental facings for the Regimental Colour. The ancient spearhead was done away with altogether, and the Colours staff surmounted with a gilt lion and crown, the crest of England, with cords and tassels of gold and crimson. The Queen’s Colour still retained the plain Roman numerals with crown over.
The 34th returned home in 1856, and on the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny embarked for India in August. 1857, and landed at Calcutta the following October. ( Honour, Lucknow.)
On 2nd August. 1871, new Colours were presented to the 34th at Shorncliffe by Lady Airey (Figs. 5 and 6). These Colours are still in use, but, owing to their frail nature, were stored in a sealed tin in Carlisle Cathedral during the 1939-45 war, and are still there.
In 1873 Lieu tenant-Colonel John Gwilt, commanding the 34th, handed over the Peninsular, Crimean and Mutiny Colours to the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle Cathedral (Figs. 3 ). An interesting point now arises. In the Museum there is an urn on which is the following inscription: “This urn contains the ashes of the Peninsular Colours of the 34th Regiment, which were accidentally burnt at His Majesty’s Opera House, 1867.” The explanation was that they were sent to Messrs. Graves to be made up in a frame for preservation. When in this establishment, which was next door to the Opera House, the great fire occurred which destroyed the Opera House and the adjoining premises of Messrs. Graves, in which were the Colours. Only a few remnants and ashes were recovered and these were placed in the urn and presented to the Mess. From this it is quite evident that there were two sets of Colours; first, those belonging to the 2nd Battalion The 34th Regiment, on which we are told the honour Albuhera had been inscribed in 1817; and second, those belonging to the 1st Battalion (presented in Madras in 1803). The evidence seems to show that the old Colours of the 2nd Battalion were kept by the 34th in the Mess and were burnt in the fire of 1867.
In 1888 the 2nd Battalion The Border Regiment had new Colours presented at Portsmouth by Field-Marshal H.R.H. The Duke of Cambridge, who had also presented new Colours to the 55th Regiment at Dublin in 1850 and which are now in Kendal Parish Church.
In 1930, under Army Order 170 of that year, the Army Council ordered that those Regiments who carry Regimental Colours and who are not already authorised to bear a centre badge thereon, will take steps to determine the particular device which, in future, it is their desire should be embroidered in the centre of the Regimental Colour. This badge was to take the place of the Roman numerals. After all Battalions of the Regiment had agreed, the Army Council. In September 1934, ruled that the centre badge of the Regimental Colour of the Border Regiment would be a “laurel wreath.”