Standards & Guidons
Originally, Dragoons had two orders of precedence: in the field they took precedence as “horse” but in garrison they took less precedence as “foot”. Dragoons were originally mounted Infantry. With their superior speed and carbine firepower they were the shock troops of their day. Gradually their role was assimilated to that of the Cavalry proper and consequently followed the rules of precedence in that arm of the service. The precedence continues in the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps and The Royal Canadian Dragoons have the honour of precedence within the Corps.
Standards and Guidons
The carrying of colours into battle goes back into the dimmest of distant history. The Israelites carried their sacred standard into battle. The Eagles of Rome, in comparison, are almost modern in the passage of time.
It is through more or less the knights of medieval days that the British Army and subsequently the Common Wealth Armies trace the tradition of individual regimental colours. Knights flew their armourial bearing on their pennants so that their own following of bowmen and men-at-arms would know their location and where to ally in the heat of battle.
A cavalry regiment carried as its banner a Guidon which is derived from the French Guydhomme or guideman, who was formerly the carrier of the cavalry regiment’s banner. Ever since, Guidons have been carried by cavalry in the British Army.
King’s Banner (or Union Flag):
This was presented to the Regiment by His Excellency, The Earl of Minto. The Governor General of Canada in Toronto on 12 November 1904. Although a cavalry regiment, but having served in South Africa as mounted rifles, the Regiment was so honoured by the King who became Colonel-in- Chief of the Regiment. The King’s Banner is currently held in the Regimental Archives at Garrison Petawawa.
Standard (or Blue Guidon):
This was presented to the Regiment by King George V (then the Duke of Cornwall and York) in Toronto on 11 October 1901. The battle honours “North- West Canada 1885” and “South Africa 1900” were emblazoned on this standard as was also the badge of that time, The Royal Cypher and in gold on crimson “Royal Canadian Dragoons”. The Standard is currently held in the Garrison Petawawa museum.
This was delivered to the Regiment in Belgium and was first carried on parade at Amiens when a detachment of the Regiment dedicated a memorial tablet in the Cathedral of that city. It was officially presented to the Regiment at Bramshott Camp, England, by His Royal Highness Prince Arthur of Connaught in 1919. The Springbok was emblazoned on this Guidon. In January 1931, the ten additional battle honours of the First World War were approved for emblazonment on the Guidon. The second Guidon is currently layed up in St. George's Chapel, Garrison Petawawa.
This was presented to the Regiment by His Excellency The Governor General of Canada, General G.P. Vanier, at Camp Gagetown, NB on 23 May 1964. It carries the battle honours of the Regiment including those approved for emblazonment from the Second World War. The Third Guidon was hung at Beechwood National Cemetary on 27 April 2012.
The new Guidon was presented to the Regiment during the summer of 1998. It is a replacement of the third Guidon which was worn from operations in Germany, Cyprus, and the former Republic of Yugoslavia. It presently is in service with the Regiment at Garrison Petawawa.
Today, because of its historic and sentimental value, it is no longer carried in action or by a unit in a theatre of war. However, it continues to be a visible symbol of pride, honour, and devotion to sovereign and country. When presented, Guidons are consecrated by the Chaplain General assisted by the unit chaplain(s). Through these means, the Guidon is sanctified and devoted to service as a symbol of honour and duty and all members of the unit, regardless of classification, dedicate themselves to constancy in the maintenance of these qualities. Once consecrated, Guidons are closely guarded and, when uncased, they are honoured by the appropriate compliment. Every effort must be made to prevent the loss of the Guidons to enemy forces. Any regiment serving overseas at the outbreak of hostilities shall return their Guidons to Canada. It is to be destroyed on threat of capture by hostile elements.
In cavalry regiments, the Guidon is carried by the senior MWO and escorted by the two senior WOs with a Sgt as Guidon Orderly. In the past, when cavalry soldiers had to provide their own horses, the class of private soldiers which any cavalry regiment attracted were generally of much higher standing than those who would gravitate to regiments of foot. This superior breed of soldier led to superior Non-Commissioned Officers and Warrant Officers. As a tangible symbol of the trust placed in Warrant Officers and Sergeants within the cavalry, the honour of carrying and escorting the Guidon was relinquished by the officers.
The only personnel allowed to handle the Guidon are the Guidon Bearer, COs of the regiment, Colonels and former Honorary Colonels of the Regiment and the RSM.
Once the Guidon is requested, be it a parade or social function, an appointment is to be made with the Regimental Adjutant who unlocks the case so the Bearer can retrieve the Guidon.
On return, the Adjutant must be informed and after the Guidon is returned to its case, the Guidon Party will proceed with the Adjutant to have the traditional glass of sherry with the CO and toast the regiment.
Once drawn and until it is placed back in the case, the Guidon Party is responsible at all times for the security and safe keeping of the latter and will not leave it unguarded.
New Guidons will not be carried on parade until they have been consecrated and no compliments are to be paid until consecration has been done. Once consecrated and presented, they shall be accorded the highest honours at all times and treated with the greatest respect and care. When a Guidon replaces a Guidon that is declared non-serviceable, they are presented and consecrated in the same manner as a new Guidon. Because of their symbolism and purpose, Guidons belong in a separate class from flags and are not paraded with other flags in any colour party. Guidons are not uncased after retreat or before sunrise unless the location of the parade is illuminated. Guidons are never uncased in inclement weather. If the Guidon is wet, it shall be hung to dry before returning to it’s case. Guidons are never uncased in inclement weather. If the Guidon is wet, it shall be hung to dry before returning to it’s case.
Commanding Officers are responsible for the safeguarding, care, maintenance, and appropriate manner of display of the Guidon. When at rest, the Guidon will be displayed in the RCD main foyer in a secure case under 24 hour, 7 day a week guard.