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Remembered Today:

`had my bit of colour stitched to my back'


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barnsleyrunner

I am reading about Rifleman Ernest Blackburn, 9th KRRC kia 15.9.1916 at Flers. What does having his bit of colour stitched to his back mean in this context, a few days before going into the front line for the first time?

 

Ernest had `had my bit of colour stitched to my back’, as the battalion’s commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Eric Benson, told his men they would soon be moving into a `show’ where it would be a case of “up you go & the best of luck”.

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WhiteStarLine

Hi, it meant that when Ernest and his fellow soldiers attacked, they could be distinguished from other units and this allowed for battlefield command and control.  Observing attacking troops in the dust, smoke and rain through binoculars or telescopes, the patches would be a relatively easy way of finding out where the lead elements of the attack were, if troops had reached their objective and if other units had merged with their company or battalion.

 

From this information, an artillery barrage could be moved or lifted and a reserve force used to reinforce successes or counter threats from weakly-held spots.

 

As the colour was only visible from the rear, there were no advantages given away to the Germans as they attacked.

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stiletto_33853

9th KRRC had a green oblong stitched onto the rear of their jacket, 2 inches below the collar until 1917. Unfortunately the 9th KRRC and other units in the 14th Division had a torrid time on 15/9/16.

 

Andy

Edited by stiletto_33853
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Ron Clifton

Some men had a triangular piece of metal sewed to the backs of their tunics, which would catch the sun and make them visible from aircraft, for the same reason.

 

Ron

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barnsleyrunner

Thank you for your replies. I thought it meant something along those lines, but the additional information on colour and context is very useful.

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I'd assume that outlaw motorcycle gangs' term for their back patches - colors/colours - comes from this practice too.  How interesting.

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