Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 10, 2011 21:59:00 GMT 12
This is from the Rangitikei Mail
Queen's Colours return to base
RNZAF Ohakea personnel were on parade on Friday morning celebrating the transfer of the Queen's Colours (flag) to the base from RNZAF Woodbourne.
Flight lieutenant Barb Finlayson says it has been several years since the base has had the colours, and the colours presented on Friday were a replacement to the originals.
The original Queen's Colours were presented by Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremonial parade at Whenuapai on December 29, 1953 and replaced in 2004 by then Governor-General and Commander-in-Chief Dame Silvia Cartwright.
The new Queen's Colours were brought to RNZAF Base Ohakea officers by RNZAF Base Woodbourne.
Afterwards the Queen's Colours were lodged in the Officer's Mess.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 10, 2011 22:05:54 GMT 12
I find it astounding in this modern climate where the RNZAF is so strapped for cash it is shedding more and more staff and assets that they still insist on pomp and ceremony like this. The Queen's Colours live in a vault at Ohakea. When they are assigned to another base a special Colour Guard of four experinced senior men have to spend hours practicing their drill so they can go to Ohakea, pick it up, escort it to the other base, unveil it to a Wing parade and go through more pomp to say that Woodbourne or Whenuapai - whoever is the new holder - has it. It's then packed back up by those four senior men and flown back to Ohakea to it's secure vault and not seen till the base has a big parade, at which point they fly to Ohakea and pick it up.....
The Wing parade alone is a huge waste of manhours with usually three practices of an hour each, then the parade itself.
Why is this expensive sort of nonsense allowed to continue for the sake of tradition when the RNZAF is laying off valuable staff? It's wrong in my opinion. Leave the damned thing in the vault and forget it till the budget is fixed and we can get an Air Force back.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 10, 2011 22:17:41 GMT 12
Esprit de Corps must be really high already with the threat of having your job civilianised and having to reapply for is as a civvie (ie redundancy).
I thought these sorts of parades were a waste of time when I was in 20 years ago, but now it seems criminal.
One time when I was at Ohakea they detailed two Andover fulls of us workers to jump on a plane and fly to Rongotai early one morning. On arrival there was another Andover load and a Hercules load of troops down from Whenuapai and Hobsonville. And there was staff there from Shelly Bay. We were all in full SD kit with rifles and were made to stand all morning drilling in the bloody cold wind on the edge of the runway. Come 12pm we hopped in buses and were ferried to Shelly Bay for lunch, then by 1pm we were back on the tarmac drilling again. Finally a plane shows up, the President of Ireland hops out, nearly gets blown over, and she jumps in her car and buggers off to Wellington city without much more than a cursory glance of the Honour Guard that had wasted a full fricking day, and five planeloads of fuel (as one of the Andovers fell over and another had to come to the rescue). I don't know whay so many of us needed to be there, it was way more than 100 Man guard I'm sure of it. And she never een bothered to look at us. Meanwhile some smug officer in Wellington probably thought he'd done the world a favour laying all this nonsense on.
As a long time lurker, I have registered to respond to your post as I could not agree with you less.
I feel there is a complete misunderstanding as to what a "colour" is. I have only had the privilege of handling 2 "standards", which are perhaps a lesser entity than a "colour". I confess that at first the thought of being a standard bearer was a chore that I had to bear as Sqn Junior Pilot. I felt I was being picked on by virtue of having No 1's that fit. I took much ribbing from my fellow Sqn members.
However, my attitude changed dramatically as I started to learn about the "thing" I was handling and how people reacted to it. When faced with a Standard, I have seen the fear in former Britiish CDS,Sir Peter De Billiere's, eyes. I have seen grown men weep. Most people, who know, either pay some form of compliment; whether that be a salute, head bowed or silent respect. Why?
Because of the words written on the Standard. The Standards that I carried had words like "Somme"', "Dieppe"', "Battle of Britian". What made these words special were the currency used to pay for the utter, utter privilege to pin those words to your Standard. That currency was human lives. Not just any human lives, but lives like yours and your Sqn mates. I am not particularly sentimental however, whenever in the presence of the Standard, I felt the presence of others. Whenever the Sqn dined, the Standard dined with us. When we paraded, the Standard paraded with us. When outside, the Standard is protected by armed guard; it was ours and it was us.
I won't pretend to know about the "colour" to which the news article refers, however I suspect it was presented by a grateful Queen, who from a position of first hand experience, was able to give a tangible token to a small nation in recognition of the currency that nation had expended. The Queen very rarely makes such a gesture and that recognition was never intended to be short term; it is enduring. Whilst those who passed in the battle may be forgotten, through the Standards and Colours the units and formations have a permanent and tangible reminder of those who preceded them. Unlike, say ANZAC day, which is national "property" the Colour or Standard is akin to personal "property" and is a way for the Formation or Sqn to celebrate it's triumphs and to remember those who achieved such triumphs.
I hope that armed with the information above you will understand why time and money is expended on such things and should you ever see a Colour or Sqn Standard up close, please do take time to read the place names appended to them.
In my experience, never have such small words had such meaning.
You might be interested in this... The idea for RAF colours originated in 1943 (see note below on the significance of 1943), on the 25th anniversary of the service, but because of wartime austerity measures, it was not possible to present any until after the War's end. I don't think it had been intended to deprive the RAF of colours for 25 years, but rather, it was an idea for the 25th anniversary. Of those above, only Halton and Cranwell had a pre-war existence.
RAF squadrons have standards. These have to have completed 25 years' service in either the RAF, Royal Auxiliary Air Force (the part-time reserve service), the Royal Flying Corps or Royal Naval Air Service (these last two were the predecessors of the RAF) before a standard can be presented. Alternatively, a squadron can receive a standard for 'outstanding operations'. The regulations appear as Air Ministry Order A866 of 1943. Again, wartime austerity measures prevented their manufacture and presentation until the early 1950s. I have not seen a justification for the 25-year rule. It may be something to do with the fact that many squadrons are disbanded at the end of a war, and so do not have a continuous existence, unlike, say the regiments of the British Army (battalions are disbanded, yes, but rarely whole regiments). This is from a website: www.1uptravel.com/flag/flags/gb-raf.html#queen I have to say that having been on parade when both stardards and/or colours have been paraded I feel the same as Dumbas does and I wasnt even in the colour guard!
Last Edit: Jun 11, 2011 4:57:04 GMT 12 by oggie2620
In remembrance of Sgt Edgar Harvey who died in December 1942 with the rest of the crew.
.... Why is this expensive sort of nonsense allowed to continue for the sake of tradition when the RNZAF is laying off valuable staff? It's wrong in my opinion. Leave the damned thing in the vault and forget it till the budget is fixed and we can get an Air Force back.
I totally disagree. The colours and what they represent are the Air Force. Without the history, tradition and pride they instill it's just an expensive flying club.
Last Edit: Jun 11, 2011 10:13:04 GMT 12 by 30sqnatc
While we are on this subject, one of the things I thought about when I saw the devastation of the Christchurch cathedral during the earth quake was loss of hundreds of years of military history in the form of the various colours, standards, guidons, banners etc that where laid up in the catherdal and hung along the walls.
Many dated back to the earliest days of military presence in the province but unfortunately I guess they were destroyed or have now suffered damage due to exposure to the elements.
I still recall going to the cathedral as a very junior member of a group in support of the very old president (WWI vet) of the old boys association of a long disbanded unit who wanted to have their guidon paraded at their last official reunion. It had already been explained to him that the military rules were that once it had been laid up in a church it was not to be paraded again but given the nature of their request, we as members of a unit that had historical links to their unit, would assist if the cathederal agreed.
We arrived at the cathedral and located the guidon on the wall. We were then met by a church official who took us off to a meeting room to discuss the request. After introductions and an explaination of the request her opening remark 'you can take it, its just a flag' nearly cause a riot. The old boy and the Warrant Officer in the party figuratively ripped this middle aged woman apart until she was an apologetic wreck. The old guy had tears running down his face as he described the history and lost and destroyed lives the battle honors from numerous WW1 middle east campaigns represented.
He also explained the fight the association had after the war to raise the money to have the guidon made and presented. To illustrate the value they placed on the 'flag' as he called it, just to jub it into her, he explained the heated arguments that occured within the association when scare funds were required to support members who were in ill-health as a result of war injuries and out of work in the depression yet it was agreed that the not inconsiderable cost was important to the surviving unit members.
The Warrant Officer then explained the trust that was put in the cathedral to preserve and protect the guidon. During the resulting flood of 'I'm sorry's, I didn't realise' the moment was saved when the Bishop arrived and it was clear he completely understood the significance and value of the colours.
He initially refused to consider the request as he knew the tradition of laid up colours but some months later we had the honour of parading the colour with some very gentle colour drill (as it was threadbare) at their final association dinner and memorial service the next day. I had a huge sense of pride being one of the escorts to the guidon on this very moving and unique occasion.
As Geoffrey Bentley says in RNZAF a Short History ''The assets of an air force, being primarilly men and machines, are constantly changing. The permanent possessions are few. The most treasured of these is the Queens Colour and the fact the Her Majesty presented it in person adds another dimension to its value."
Dave, the church in Cambridge (the white one just past the right hand turn on SH1 when coming in from Hamilton - is it now a cafe?) had several colours laid up some that date back to the land wars. Go and have a look at them and the history they represent. I really think you will change your opinion of the relevance of the flag you suggest should remain locked in the vault in Ohakea.
I'm one of those people whose job as been civilanised but these things are still important to me as the embody part of what it is to serve in the military.
Last Edit: Jun 11, 2011 10:17:28 GMT 12 by 30sqnatc
Post by strikemaster on Jun 11, 2011 11:34:43 GMT 12
No one is taking away from what the colours represent, but when we can't afford an air force something is wrong.
You fellers are not the only ones to weep when these quiet reminders show up, I have several family members who served. I also had the good fortune of living in Turangi and getting to know a lot of the senior officers from Waiouru and Wellington back in my childhood. I got a lot of insight from these blokes and a deep appreciation for sacrifice.
I would just rather see a competent Govt who is able to maintain a standard in the Armed forces that the country requires. That makes me weep too. God knows what my Granddad would say if here were around to see what Aunty Helen did, and Key is also doing to the RNZAF he served in. When its up to muster, we can have all the pomp and ceremony we can afford. Till then, we still have a fight on our hands. First role of Govt - failed.
PS I was a patrol leader back then too, my troop leader was a RSM in the Army. He also drummed into us the proper traditions of carrying the flag, a responsibility I always took very seriously. especially on ANZAC day.
I tend to agree with Dave, in light of the current employment and economic situation facing the NZ military I believe the pomp and ceremony should be tempered accordingly. The annoying aspect of the Colour transfer when I was in the airforce was after the parade they were locked away in the Officer's Mess where the majority of Base personnel were unable to view it. The Colours should be in a secure viewable location on the base until the next hand over. That would make the Colour protocol more meaningful. Dumbas is obviously a pom giving us his view from a Brit point of view. Thats great, however down in this part of the world by comparison we are thankfully a lot more egalitarian in our way of life which also means attitudes are different. I say this from some experience having been attached to a RAF Station for a period of time and having observed day to day life in the UK during my airline flying time.
Post by Officer Crabtree on Jun 11, 2011 12:09:43 GMT 12
It's no use doing all of that if we don't have an air force to do it for. 60 aircraft- many of them not combat capable- is not an air force, even for a small country like NZ. We either need to abandon it (not an option) or restore it to its former glory (barely an option due to cost). We are a joke. OT: I like a bit of pomp and ceremony, but not this much.
Last night I lay in bed looking up at the stars in the sky and I thought to myself, where the heck is the ceiling.
I cannot speak for the RNZAF, but if the RAF is anything to gi by, the "pomp and ceremony" has been curtailed severly in the modern military. However, I think there's a danger of knowing the cost of something, whilst forgetting it's value.
The battle honours displayed on Standards were won by both Commissioned and non commissioned and that is widely recognized. I am sure that recognition is not limited to the British Armed Forces. Whenever paraded, the "colour party" consisted of me and 3 SNCOs, who took the task very seriously and there was more than a few "quite words" of counseling whenever I was a bit flippant. Again, I doubt that is a British thing. However, it was always understood that I would buy the beers after the Parade.... We were egalitarian like that!
You make some big assumptions in your post. I have never considered myself a Pom, but I understand how you drew that conclusion. However, I am intrigued how on the back of that (false) assumption you attempt to write-off my views. It is an interesting exercise to substitute the word "Pom" out of your post and insert say "Maori" or "Jew". I suspect that would be deemed unacceptable. It is indeed a very egalitarian NZ society you live in.....
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 11, 2011 13:32:31 GMT 12
Welcome to the forum dambas and thank you for the impassioned defence you have given; and thanks too Paul for yours.
I was not trying to say anything against what the Colours represent, heavens forbid, I was saying that wasting precious budget and manhours on bloody parades just for traditions sake in a time when the NZDF cannot afford to keep its critical staff in employment is plain stupid.
All those things that you say the Colours represent, well to me the Air Force Museum of New Zealand does that and it does it much better. I think if anywhere the Colours should be submitted there and laid up till the Government can sort out what the hell they are doing with the RNZAF, budget-wise. All other time-wasting money-wasting activities should also be consigned to history and they should get on with running flying ops. At least half the air force must be civilians by now who won't give a toss anyway.
Paul wrote: "Dave, the church in Cambridge (the white one just past the right hand turn on SH1 when coming in from Hamilton - is it now a cafe?) had several colours laid up some that date back to the land wars. Go and have a look at them and the history they represent. I really think you will change your opinion of the relevance of the flag you suggest should remain locked in the vault in Ohakea."
Yes I have seen those Colours and have had a good look at them. St Andrew's Anglican Church (aka The Church of England) is an active church by the way, it is the pink church across the road (ex-Presbytarian Church of All Saints) that is the cafe and tourist store. The flags in St Andrews make fine decorations and it's nice that someone has preserved them but I actually have no clue as to which units they came from apart from assuming they were units at the Cambridge Ten Star Redoubt in the 1860's? Down the road in the Cambridge Museum is the Colour Standard of the Cambridge Cavalry and it's one of the oldest of its type in existence in NZ. It's story is better told by the Museum.
I should add that maybe the Colours mean more to you guys as you're officers. We lowly troops never got near them apart from on cold, miserable, long. boring parades.
I think you raise a very good point . The tradition of the colours residing in the officers mess is something we inherited from the British and unfortunatly the Air Force still hold to. In the NZ Army, today we have moved on from that and the colours now reside on display in the headquarters of the unit that holds then. They are part of the day to day life of the unit. When someone is posted into the unit, one of the first things that occurs during induction you are taken to the colours and the significance and brief history is explained to you.
You also said 'All other time-wasting money-wasting activities should also be consigned to history and they should get on with running flying ops.'
Servicemen and women knowing where we have come from, the high standards we must continue to uphold and the need to keep going in times of adversity are just as important as the technical skills of running flying ops. I will always recall my father telling me how as ground staff, he and others kept themselves going when his airfield was subjected to a week of bombing each day during the Battle of Britain.
Finally, I think you may be plesantly surprised at the attitudes of the majority of NZDF civilians. As a very high % are ex military, when the need is there, they step up to the plate without question.
Last Edit: Jun 11, 2011 18:20:50 GMT 12 by 30sqnatc
Post by Dave Homewood on Jun 11, 2011 18:44:26 GMT 12
It's a free country and I'm not in the RNZAF so I can express my opinion - which I'm sure others who are oppressed with military law gags also share. Even when I was in I don't recall anyone being happy about being stuck on a Wing parade, it was in interuption to real work and huge pain in the arse.