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DateOriginal Topic
13th February 2004Colour Sergeants
By Steven Etchells
Can anyone tell me why Colour Sergeants were so called? When did the rank cease to exist?
13th February 2004John Young

The original task of a Colour-Sergeant was to act as a guard, an escort, to the Ensigns carrying the Colours.

To my knowledge to rank still exists. Look at the Queen's Birthday Parade, when a Colour is trooped, and you will see the Colour-Sergeants deploy as an escort to the Colour when ordered.

John Y.
13th February 2004Steven Etchells
Thanks for that, I thought that Colour Sergeant was a Victorian thing. In books and films I have seen about the two World Wars I have never heard anyone referred to as Colour Sergeant.
13th February 2004Justin Young
Hi Steven

A colour Sergeant is more commonly known as a Staff Sergeant these days, the rank badge is the same- I remember this very well from years ago after calling my Staff Sergeant, Colour by mistake and getting a tirade of abuse for not calling him Staff!

13th February 2004Adrian Whiting

Just to add to the above that the rank was introduced in 1813, as a recognition of merit. As John says, the purpose of the holder was to guard the Colours. In keeping with other Sergeants at the time, the Colour Sergeant carried a short pike or "Spontoon". The Colour Sergeants also carried a sword.

The Victorian army, with its eight company battalions (the Grenadier and Light Companies having been grouped together separately) appointed one Colour sergeant per Company. He was thus the senior NCO of the Company (there not being Company Sergeant Majors until quite a while later).

13th February 2004Martin Everett
I should add that the rank of Colour Sergeant is one in the British infantry and is still used ! Its equivalent in the rest of the army is Staff Sergeant. Often today they are appointed Company Quartermaster Sergeants (but still paid as Colour Sergeants). In the Foot Guards, particularly in the Grenadiers, they are quite often still referred to as 'Pay' sergeant which is a hung up from Victorian times.
13th February 2004Chris
The rank of Color Sergeant is still used, its also called Staff Sergeant. Same rank insignia though, 3 chevrons below a crown.
16th February 2004Steven Etchells
Thanks for all the information on this subject.
17th February 2004Eddy
Clour Sergeants still exist. You'll find them now in the recruiting offices and on the travelling recruitingdisplays. Their rank badge is now that of Sergeant chevrons with crossed colour standards above.
19th February 2004Martin Heyes
Officer cadets at the RMA Sandhurst were required to addressl ALL permanent staff up to and including the rank of Staff Sgt, (or Col. Sgt), at the Academy as "Staff."" (Warrant Officers and above were ALWAYS addressed as "Sir," and woe betide any Cadet who unwuttingly addressed a Brigade of Guards Warrant Officer as "staff!"
(This may still be the case; I don't know but that was certainly the case in 1971 - 73 when I was a Cadet).

But I clearly remember one Cadet receiving a right bollocking when he addressed a Staff Sergeant (or maybe he was a Colour Sgt; I can't remember), as "Colour."
Let's just say that the reply he received is not one that should be repeated in these days of political correctness! And yes, skin pigmentation WAS part of the answer!

Confused? I hope so!!