Jersey Militia Colours

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Militia colours are returned to the island in 1946 after the German Occupation

This article by W Y Carman was first published in the 1971 Annual Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise

A

lthough articles have been written in the past on the colours of the old Jersey Militia, it may be helpful to comment on not only what could have been issued in the past but also to note what still remains.

In recent years several colours have perished - others might disappear shortly, without any record being made on paper. At the moment certain colours are preserved in parish churches and it is possible to determine which issues they are and to which battalion they belonged.

Thus I will comment on such colours that have been issued since 1800, and on those which still exist. Unfortunately my recent visit to the island of Jersey was limited and so I am grateful for the kind assistance of Joan Stevens and Richard Mayne, who have helped me very much in this survey.

Reorganisation

The Jersey Militia was reorganised in 1798 by General Le Couteur but no record is traceable of any colours which might have been presented at this time. On 5 December 1800 a Horse Guards circular was sent to units of the British Army informing them of the alterations which were to take place on the regimental colours following the formal Act of Union of Great Britain and Ireland.

The Union Colour, the first in each regiment of Infantry, now had the inclusion of the saltire of St Patrick and the regimental colour had the addition of the shamrock into the Union wreath (which previously consisted only of roses and thistles).

On 27 December a circular was sent to all colonels of militia informing them that the Commander-in-Chief hoped that they would take the necessary measures to comply with His Majesty's late regulations respecting the colours of their regiments as soon as possible

No comment seems to have appeared and one wonders whether in fact colours did exist. It is known that new colours were presented to the 1st North West Regiment on 12 June 1810 and others followed soon after for other regiments. The earliest colours which remain are of this period and are fairly well recorded.

Towards the middle of the century each regiment seems to have received new colours but not immediately on being permitted the Royal blue. These colours continued in use until the reorganisation of 1878 into three regiments when new patterns were granted. These latter were laid up when disbandment took place. When the new Royal Jersey Militia was raised in 1928 new colours were presented.

A brief resumé of the development of infantry colours for the period in question may be of help. In 1810 the ground of colours was six feet on the staff and six feet six inches in the fly. The plain staff (over nine feet long) had a spearhead finial. In 1855 dimensions were changed to six feet by five feet six inches.

In 1858 drastic changes were made, the size reduced to four feet by three feet six inches with the addition of a two-inch fringe around the three free sides. The spearhead finial also changed to a heavy three-dimensional Royal Crest - the Lion standing on the Royal Crown. In 1868 the size of the colour was further reduced to three feet nine inches by three feet. In 1900 the crown changed in shape from the Victorian pattern to the Tudor pattern with raised arches.

From the militia point of view there were also changes. The regimental colours were of the colour of the facings on the garments, which before 1831, were various, but after that date all of the Royal blue now granted by Royal permission, as well as the title Royal.

In 1881 General Order No 130 permitted the honour of ‘Jersey 1781' to be awarded to the 1st (West), the 2nd (East) and the 3rd (South) Regiments and thus a scroll bearing this honour was added to the colours of each regiment.

The East Regiment colours

1st North-west

As mentioned above the 1st North West Regiment had colours presented 12 June 1810. As the regiment recruited in the parishes of St Ouen, St Mary and St John it was only logical that these colours were laid up in St John's Church in 1884. These colours are no longer there and are presumed to have perished (the present Rector who has been there for about ten years found no colours).

On 7 July 1851 new colours were presented by Miss Gibaut at St Ouen and these replaced the 1810 issue. In 1882 these colours were laid up in St Ouen's Church and today (May 1970) only the regimental colour survives. This blue colour bears in the centre the numberal '1' within a roundel carrying 'North West Regt’.

There is a crown above, a spray of laurel on the left, a spray of oak leaves on the right and a triple scroll below bearing 'JERSEY/ROYAL/MILITIA'. This colour does not carry the honour of 'Jersey' which is consistent, as it had not been granted during its term of service. Thus this relic follows all the accepted rules and allows no doubt of identification.

The records of St Mary's Parish cover some interesting aspects of the laying up of colours. As far back as 1851, when the colours of the North West Regiment were in shreds, the assembly decided to contribute one quarter of the value if the other two parishes (St Ouen and St John) paid their share. It is not clear whether someone else was to pay a quarter or whether both remaining paid 3/8th each. If so, then there were good reasons why St Mary did not have custody of any old colour.

In 1882 after the militia had reorganised, Phillippe Le Brun, Colonel of the North West Regiment, discovered that he had two sets of colours at his disposal. The 'recent set' was offered to and accepted by St Ouen Parish. As to the other set, there was no immediate decision. The Parish of St John suggested that St Mary should pay them the original cost of the colour. but this was firmly rejected. The decision was left to a higher authority. In August 1884 a letter was sent to the Constable requesting him not to give permission to the passing of the colours to St John, as the newspaper had announced, but on 3 September the old colours were handed to St John. (This date is fixed by the invitation card, in French inviting one to attend the 'temple' (the parish church) and to have a light meal (to be paid for). This card is in the Library of the Societe Jersiaise.)

2nd North

It is said by Ralph Mollet that the 2nd North Regiment had new colours in 1822, but the source for this date is not given. If this was so, then these large colours would be the Union colour and a yellow regimental colour, the facings of the regiment. But no evidence is to hand. In July 1862 new colours were presented by Mrs Lernpriere of Rozel. Mr Mollet wrote that these colours were laid up in St John's Church, which on the face of it would appear unusual as St Martin and Trinity Parishes were the recruiting areas. However, these colours cannot be found in any of these three churches and no other records can be produced.

The ceremony of laying-up of the colours

3rd East

On 12 June 1810 colours were presented to the 3rd or East Regiment. This regiment covered the parishes of St Saviour, St Clement and Grouville. Although there is no evidence as to the laying-up of these colours which must have taken place in the 1870s,, this pair of colours are now in the Grouville church, a proper resting place.

Unfortunately these colours are very perished and may disappear if steps are not taken to preserve them. These are the oldest colours extant in Jersey and are of the large size with pierced spearhead finials of brass on the long staves. The Union colour has in the centre a large gold embroidered 'GR' which includes a '3' in the curling letters.

The regimental colour is most interesting. As the facings of the 3rd were white, it was not possible to have an all-white flag. Some say that a white flag indicates surrender but another good reason is that it would have been very similar to the ensigns of the French Army, who were at war with us. Thus it was common practice in the British Army to have a large St George's Cross on a white field for regiments with facings of white.

It still is possible to note that the devices are on the broad red cross. A red shield with the three gold lions is backed by an elaborate military trophy. Above is a blue scroll with '3rd or East Regiment' and below is another scroll with 'Jersey Militia'.

On 14 July 1871 Captain Gray, Adjutant of the 3rd, noted that the regiment was to have new colours and on 13 July 1871 they were presented on Gorey Common. These colours were laid up in St Saviour's Church, where they still remain. Their condition is not good and being placed high in an arch it is not possible to note all the details, but the Royal Crest, fringe, etc confirm the pattern.

The Union colour has on the horizontal arms of the St. George's cross scrolls bearing 'IIIrd or East' and 'Militia'. The regimental colour which is of blue has a small Union in the upper canton, as well as what must be a red central area edged with a Union wreath and indecipherable letters in the centre.

4th St Helier

The St Helier Battalion of the 4th Regiment must have had colours in the early as well as the late period. R Mollet says in 1960 that they are laid up in St Helier's Parish Church but they were not on view in May 1970 so either they have disappeared or he confused them with other colours which are preserved there.

Colours in St John's Parish Church

4th St Lawrence

The St Lawrence Battalion of the 4th Regiment would appear to have had two sets of colours, one of the early period and the other of 1841, both of which are preserved in St Lawrence Parish Church. Although they are considerably perished, it is possible to see some distinguishing features. The early set, which may have been presented in the 1810s, are with very large colours and pierced spearhead finials.

The Union can be noted of the post-1800 period and the regimental colour has a small Union in the upper canton near the spear head. The colour of the field appears now as grey-green, no doubt faded as such from the original blue. No lettering or other devices are to be seen.

The colours presented on 7 August 1841 by Lady de Veulle must have been laid up in the ‘70s when the new regiments were formed. The Union colour apparently had one scroll above and another below, on which 'Royal' may be seen. The regimental colour is more complete and is of a lighter shade of blue than may be expected for a Royal regiment.

Both colours are large, without fringe, and with the pierced head as carried before the Royal Crest was adopted. The regi¬mental colour has a small Union in the upper canton and a shield in the centre bearing the three lions and sprays on either side. A crown is above, and below is a large 'IV'. Below all is a tripartite scroll with 'Royal Jersey Militia'.

West Regiment colours

5th South West

The 5th South West Regiment covered the parishes of St Peter and St Brelade and according to the Bulletin of La Société Jersiaise 1907, had new colours in 1811, which were laid up in 1882. The new colours presented on 17 July 1851 by Mrs Pipon were said also to have been laid up in 1881.

According to R Mollet in 1960, both sets were then preserved in St Brelade's Church. When I visited this church in 1970 I was told that all colours had perished some years before and thus no comments can be made.

1st West

The colours of the three re-organised regiments of 1878 are all preserved. They have fringe on three sides, carry the Royal Crest of Victorian pattern on the staves and all regimental colours are blue. The new 1st West Regiment was given new colours on 3 September 1879 by Lady Marett on behalf of the Western Parishes.

On 2 August 1925 this pair was laid up in St Mary's Church, where they still are. The Queen's Colour is a Union with a large Crown on the St. George's Cross while below on an undulating scroll, is '1st or West Royal Jersey'. The blue regimental colour has a small Union in the upper corner, a red roundel in the centre bearing the three lions and on a circlet appears '1st or West Royal Jersey'. There is a crown above, a Union wreath and a scroll below with 'Jersey 1781' which must have been added later.

2nd East

The colours of the 2nd East Regiment which must have been presented about the same time as the others by Mrs Robin, of Steephill, on behalf of the Eastern Parishes are similar in style but differ in detail.

They were laid up in St Martin's Church on 2 August 1925, where they still are. The Queen's colour has as a central device a stringed bugle horn with a '2' inside the strings. A crown is above and a three part scroll below carries 'Royal Jersey Militia'. The battle honour added in 1881 is in two parts 'Jersey' and '1781'. The regimental colour has the crown, the bugle horn and '2', a shield with the three lions and below a looped scroll with 'Royal East Jersey'. Once again the battle honour is on two scrolls placed either side of the central shield.

Colours at St Saviour's Parish Church

3rd South

The colours of the 3rd or South Regiment were presented on 16 July 1879 by Lady Lothian Nicholson on behalf of the parish of St Helier. The colours were laid up in St Helier's Church on 2 August 1925 where they still are.

In style these colours of the 3rd are more akin to those of the 1st. The Queen's Colour differs by the title 'IIIrd South Royal Militia' on the band around the three lions. The 'Jersey' 1781 battle honour is only on the regimental colour under the other devices.

Royal Jersey Militia

The Royal Jersey Militia, re-raised in 1928, was disbanded in 1945, but did not have the colours from the States of Jersey laid up until 10 January 1954. They were placed in St Helier's Church where they still remain. The King's Colour has a plain red centre surrounded by a band reading 'The Royal Jersey Light Infantry'.

A Tudor Crown was over this and the regimental colour. This second colour had heart-shaped shield with the three golden lions with the regimental title around the band. A Union wreath was yet again around the centre and on the left and right were two battle honours, one being 'Jersey 1781' and the other 'The Great War'. In the four corners were badges of the stringed bugle to denote the light infantry functions.

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