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What’s your favourite Colour? Flag symbolises history, spirit and tradition

The Queen’s Squadron Standard has been presented to the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 86 Wing at RAAF Base Amberley.

A Squadron Standard is a ceremonial flag that honours 25 years of service by operational, combat support, intelligence or battlespace control squadrons and units.

It is a flag that represents the spirit of a squadron and on it are the battle honours in commemoration of gallant deeds.

‘Colours’ is the term used for the Defence Force’s most revered ceremonial banners.

It was presented by the Governor-General, General (retd) David Hurley during a Trooping of the Colours ceremony at the tarmac at RAAF Base Amberley.

In earlier days the colours in the Army were trooped through the ranks prior to a fight so that they could be recognised by all ranks as a rallying point during the noise and confusion of battle. 

Hope was always present while the Colours remained intact.

 They retain their importance today, providing a visual symbol of a unit’s history, loyalty, spirit and traditions.

Officer Commanding 86 Wing, Group Captain Steven Pesce, said it was a proud day for the wing.

“The 86 Wing was first formed in 1945 to undertake ground attack missions in the South-West Pacific and during this campaign was awarded battle honours,” Group Captain Pesce said.

“The Wing was disbanded in 1964 at RAAF Base Richmond and later re-established in the same location in 1987.

In January 2012, 86WG relocated to Amberley and is currently responsible for Nos. 33, 34 and 36 Squadrons.

“I am proud to say, through conflicts, alliances, aircraft variations and capability upgrades, the men and women of 86 Wing have continued to excel and uphold the traditions and values of the Air Force,” Group Captain Pesce said.

His Excellency General, the Honourable David Hurley, (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia salutes the Squadron Standard for No. 33 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley. It’s a testament to the significance of Colours that they are saluted by everyone, regardless of rank.

No. 86 Wing is responsible for managing the Air Force’s strategic airlift, air-to-air refuelling, and special purpose aircraft.

About 100 personnel from No. 33, 34 and 36 Squadrons participated in the ceremonial parade, which included a flypast by a C-17A Globemaster III.

Base Warrant Officer for RAAF Base Amberley, Warrant Officer Korey McGregor, said the different ceremonial flags (referred to as ‘colours’) of the Australian Defence Force held a revered position of honour.

“They are the embodiment of service traditions, achievements and history,” Warrant Officer McGregor said.

“Colours are a tangible recognition of the services’ devotion to duty, the sovereign and to Australia and can take years to make.

 “The edges are bordered with two bands of gold lace and floral emblems of each Australian state and territory.”

Qualification criteria for the two Battle Honours for 86Wing are:

  • Pacific 1945. For operations against the Japanese in the Pacific theatre, throughout the war with Japan from 08 December 1941 until 15 August 1945.
  • Borneo 1945. For operations in direct support of the capture of Labuan, Balikpapan and Tarakan, and for subsequent operations over Borneo from 16 April 1945 until 15 August 1945.

Details of what appears on the Squadron Standard

 Squadron Standards are a rectangular silk flag in RAF light blue (azure), measuring 813mm on the staff and 1220mm in length, originally with a border of roses, thistles, shamrocks, leeks and wattle.

In 1983, Her Majesty approved a change of design to the Standard.

The new design follows the same format as the original Standard; however, the border was replaced with one depicting the official floral emblems of each Australian State, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

The Australian floral emblems represented on the Standard are golden wattle, waratah, pink heath, cooktown orchid, sturts desert pea, kangaroo paw, tasmanian bluegum, sturts desert rose and royal bluebell.

The officially approved squadron badge is positioned in the centre of the Standard with scrolls on each side of the badge, inscribed with the Battle Honours of the Squadron.

Squadron Standards are fringed and tasselled in gold and blue, and hung on a staff 2250 mm in length surmounted by an eagle in gold with wings elevated.

 The Standard is carried on a Standard Belt of dark blue, on the front of which is displayed the squadron badge. The edges are bordered with two bands of gold lace.

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