- Davidson, Bill, LCDR, RAN
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- HMAS Cerberus (Shore Establishment)
- December 2003 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The Colour was carried on an ash staff 7 feet (2 metres) in length with a 3 inch circumference, surmounted by a finial consisting of an Admiralty anchor on a three faced shield, over which is superimposed the Sovereign’s Crown. ((Tudor Crown 1924-1953, St. Edward’s Crown 1953-present)) The Colour Officer wears a white patent leather belt over the left shoulder on which is placed a gilt badge depicting a Fouled Anchor surrounded by a wreath of laurel and surmounted by a crown.
Since being presented with King’s Colours in 1927 the Royal Australian Navy has continued to proudly parade the Colours of subsequent Sovereigns. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II has approved the ongoing use of two Colours by the RAN; the Fleet Colour held by the Maritime Commander on behalf of fleet units, and the Establishments Colour held by the Commanding Officer, HMAS Cerberus, on behalf of all the shore naval establishments.
King George V
In March 1924 His Majesty King George V granted approval for the Royal Navy to use Colours corresponding to the King’s Colours carried by the Military Forces, under cover of Admiralty Fleet Order 1057/1924. In June 1924 the RAN’s First Naval Member, Rear Admiral P.H.H. Thompson, CB CMG, RN, proposed that Colours should also be established for the RAN. Approval was granted in March 1925 by King George V and two Colours with accoutrements, one for the Flagship of the Australian Squadron and one for Flinders Naval Depot (FND), were ordered in mid 1925 at a cost of around £160.00. The Colours were dispatched from London in October 1926 in SS Moreton Bay, arriving at Flinders the following month. Arrangements were made with the Governor General, His Excellency Lord Stonehaven PC GCMG DSO, to present the Colours in January 1927 on behalf of King George V.
A Colour was presented to FND during the forenoon, Saturday 22 January 1927. Some 1500 personnel were on parade, including the ships’ companies of HMA Ships Melbourne and Yarra as well as a full Ceremonial Battalion provided by the ship’s company of FND. It is not certain when this Colour was laid up; however, as the Colour presented to the Flagship was laid up in December 1937 it can be assumed that the Establishment Colour was probably laid up in St Mark’s Chapel at FND in either late 1937 or early 1938.
The second Colour was presented to HMA Squadron in the Domain, Sydney on Thursday 27 January 1927. Some 250 personnel were on parade, including ships’ companies from HMA Ships Success, Tasmania, Sydney, Swordsman, Platypus and Adelaide. On completion of the parade the Colour was embarked in the Australian Squadron flagship, HMAS Sydney. The Colour was laid up in the Garden Island Chapel on Sunday 5 December 1937.
King George VI
With the death of King George V in early 1936 and the subsequent abdication of King Edward VIII it was not until 1937 that new Colours were presented. Arrangements were made in early 1937 for the purchase of two new Colours, which duly arrived in Australia in June. Little is known about the presentation of King George VI’s Colours and there is some conjecture that the Colours may have been given, rather than presented, although the existence of instructions for the laying up of the HMA Squadron Colour must attach some doubt to this.
A Colour was probably presented to HMA Squadron around November 1937 with a Colour also being issued to FND in the second half of 1937.
The Establishment Colour was laid up in St Mark’s Chapel in March 1954. It is not known what happened to the Colour presented to HMA Squadron in 1937 – it is not laid up with the other Colours in the RAN Chapel on Garden Island nor has there been any indication found in official correspondence as to its final disposal. One of the two finials is now on display in the Naval Repository on Spectacle Island; the whereabouts of the second (most likely that from HMA Squadron’s Colour) is also unknown.
Queen Elizabeth II – White Ensign
With the death of King George VI in 1952 and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 it was not until 1954 that new Colours were presented to the RAN. In March 1954 ((There is doubt over the exact date; a program held by Cerberus is dated Tuesday 2 March, while an article in The Navy, Australia’s Maritime Journal states it was presented on Sunday 7 March)) the Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Prince Philip, KG KT OM GBE AC QSO, presented Flinders Naval Depot with a new Colour to replace that of Admiral of the Fleet, the late King George VI. This presentation was the first time that the consecration of the Colours is mentioned. ((Although consecration was part and parcel of the Army ceremony, King George V Colours were not consecrated. Whether those of King George VI were consecrated is unknown. All subsequent Colours have been consecrated as an integral component of the presentation ceremony.)) This Colour was replaced in November 1968 and laid up in St. Mark’s Chapel in November/December of that year. HMA Squadron’s King’s Colour was replaced on 16 October 1957; however, it appears that no formal presentation was made. The Colour was laid up in the Garden Island Chapel on Sunday December 1968, with the ceremony being attended by some 230 personnel, including the companies of HMA Ships Melbourne, Yarra, Supply, Stalwart, Vendetta, Stuart, Hobart, Brisbane and Queenborough. The submarine, mine warfare and patrol boat squadrons were also represented.
Queen Elizabeth II – Australian White Ensign
In 1967 the RAN was granted approval by Queen Elizabeth II to replace the White Ensign, which had been flown since the inception of the Australian Squadron, with an Australian White Ensign (AWE). In March 1967 the White Ensign was hauled down for the last time in HMA Ships and Establishments, and the following month approval was granted to present new Colours based on the AWE.