The Colours of The East Surrey Regiment
(and its forebears the 31st and 70th of Foot)
2nd Battalion The East Surrey Regiment (70th Foot) 1945-1948
(held by the 1st Battalion (31st and 70th), 1948-1959)
This, the final, short-lived stand of Colours given to the 2nd Surreys, was presented by General Sir Richard Foster on behalf of King George VI, at Pulborough, Sussex, on 30th November 1945, just prior to the battalion’s departure for Palestine. These were the first Colours presented to a line infantry battalion after the end of the 1939-45 war, and it was particularly appropriate that General Foster was a distinguished Royal Marine, thus commemorating a continuous connection with that famous Corps since the Surreys foundation as Villiers’ Marines in 1702.
|The 2nd East Surrey King’s Colour
with the addition of the World War 2
Battle Honours post 1956-57.
Although sixty years had elapsed since the merging of the Seventieth into the East Surreys and the consequent adoption of white facings, this was the first time the Regimental Colour had been anything other than the traditional black. The central design of the Regimental Colour consists, in this one and only instance in a regular Surrey colour, of the cap badge of the Regiment, the Star of the Garter, surmounted by a crown. This badge had originally comprised mainly the badges of the First and Third Royal Surrey Militia. Twenty-four battle honours prior to the Great War are placed in circular form around the central design. The centre of the Queen’s Colour is a II, encircled by a scroll inscribed The East Surrey Regiment, and ten selected Great War Honours follow the pattern of the 1867-1945 stand.
The Colours accompanied the battalion to active service in Palestine and Egypt in 1945, but after they had been in use for only three years further reductions were made in the infantry of the line and it became necessary to reduce the Regiment to one Regular battalion. The amalgamation of the 1st and 2nd Battalions under the title of the 1st Battalion The East Surrey Regiment (31st and 70th) was marked by a ceremonial parade at Salonika on 12th July 1948, at which the Regimental Colours of both battalions were trooped. In order to preserve the entity of the two battalions now merged into one, the Colonel of the Regiment directed that the Colours should be borne on alternate ceremonial parades.
Unlike the colours of the 1st Surreys, laid up in Guildford Cathedral in September 1960, this stand was never, apparently, normally laid up, but was taken into the care of the Regimental Museum. They are now at Clandon Park in cases, in their almost pristine condition being an excellent example of the pattern of Colours issued to a British Regiment of the Line this century.