The Colours of The East Surrey Regiment
(and its forebears the 31st and 70th of Foot)

Service Battalions of the Great War:
King's Colours, 1919-1920

The Surreys raised seven Service Battalions, of which the 7th, 8th, 9th, 12th and 13th and the 2nd/23rd London saw service overseas.

In 1919 it was authorised that those Service Battalions which had served overseas would each be presented with a silk Union Flag, to form a tangible recognition of service on the Western Front and elsewhere – indeed it is possible that King George V was associated with the idea. These flags were not officially consecrated, nor were they maintained at public expense. When the Service Battalions were disbanded their Union Flags, known as ‘King’s Colours’, were laid up except that of the 13th Battalion, which had been disbanded prior to the Armistice. This Colour was presented (and consecrated) at a special ceremony on Wandsworth Common on 16th July 1921, in the presence of over 350 former members of the battalion.

Of the King’s Colours given to The East Surreys those of the 7th, 8th and 9th Battalions hang in the Regimental Chapel at All Saints’ Church Kingston-on-Thames; the 12th Battalion Colour is in Bermondsey, and that of the 13th Battalion is in the Parish Church in Wandsworth.

The King’s Colours are of the three feet nine inches by three feet size, with fringe and the pike has a pointed spearhead. All except the 12th Battalion conformed to the same pattern: the Union, with a central roundel bearing the title The East Surrey Regiment around the outside, and a Roman battalion numeral in the centre, surmounted by a King’s Crown. Only the 12th bore Battle Honours on the arms of the cross of St George – twelve in place of the usual ten:

YPRES 1917, ’18

SOMME 1916, ’18


ARRAS 1918






ITALY 1917-18

The 13th wore a special badge (much sought after by collectors) authorised by the War Office – instead of the Arms of Guildford worn normally on the East Surrey Garter Star, the arms of Wandsworth are worn with the motto “We Serve” on a scroll. As far as is known, this was not featured on the Colour.

The Colour of the 2nd/23rd London was presented at Le Gouffre, near Boulogne, in France on 22nd April 1919. Its subsequent history and current whereabouts are unknown.


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External Link

Regimental colours from World War One found and returned to a museum previously based at Clandon Park.

Tracing of the 13th Battalion colours