Monday, 22 April 2013

Boys Brigade Colours

I started this post after attending the celebration of 125 years of Boys Brigade missionary in Ireland, hosted by the Londonderry Battalion.

The Boys Brigade (BB) is a World Wide Christian youth organisation, and as a former member with a very long association with. (every generation of my family have served in the BB since the first company was formed in Derry.) In the British Isles it is mostly only Protestant Churches that have BB companies, however it is an interdenominational organisation and members from many different churches can be found in a single company (which are normally affiliated to a single church), The Object of The Boys' Brigade is:"The advancement of Christ's kingdom among Boys and the promotion of habits of Obedience, Reverence, Discipline, Self-respect and all that tends towards a true Christian manliness."

It is a uniformed organisation which (with the exception of the cadet movement) makes it the oldest uniformed youth organisation in the UK even older than the scouts. 
The badge is an anchor emblazoned on a cross with the motto "Sure & Steadfast" on it, flanked by the letters "BB". the anchor and motto comes from the Bible. The book of Hebrews, Chapter 6, Verse 19: We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast . 

Unlike the scouts it does not have its own universal flag, but each company and battalion have their own colours, which normally conform to a standard pattern. In the UK and commonwealth realms the BB's patron is the reigning monarch which makes it one of the very few civilian organisations to have a Queen's Colour.

much like the military the Queen's Colour is a Union Flag defaced with the badge:
Standard design of Queen's Colour
A picture of myself as a teenager with the Queen's Colour of my company. 
(I apoligise for the serious looking face :L)

In the United Kingdom the Company (and battalion colour) often take the form of a blue ensign, with the brigade badge and the name of the company:
Standard design for Company colour
Old colour and other memorabilia on display in my church.

the exception to this is Scotland where the Company colour takes the form of a Saint Andrews cross (the BB was founded in Scotland.)
St Andrews Colour
This is also the case although to a much lesser extent in Northern Ireland. Normally the ensign is used but there are a handful of companies who use the St Andrews cross. As is seen in the photo below of a company of the Londonderry battalion on Sundays parade.

My company also broke the mould, by replacing the ensign with a plain blue colour in a bid to be more cross community, I think this makes sense not only in a bid to encourage boys from the Roman Catholic community to join, but as the Queen's Colour is a Union Flag, I don't see a need to have one in the canton of the company colour:
Above and Below on the left side of the picture:

The problem is that there is no reference to the company which sort of defeats the purpose of a company colour. So I did a quick proposal of a new type of standard colour, based on my old company:
It has the company number in Roman numerals in the canton. The BB badge, name, company name and the church it is affiliated to which present colours don't have. the ensign with the UK flag in the canton is only really used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (Scotland as already mention use the St Andrews cross for a company colour.) BB units outside the UK naturally don't have it, and with the exception of commonwealth realms they also don't have a Queen's Colour, as can be seen in the colours of a company in the Republic of Ireland in the picture below:
The company colour of this particular company is more elaborate than most. It is also of interest that the BB in the Irish Republic and the UK are both governed from the British isles headquarters in London which is why they both wear the same uniform, the only difference being the colours and the highest award. In the UK the highest award in the BB is called the Queen's Badge after the patron, but in the Republic of Ireland the highest award is called the Founders Badge in reference to the BB's founder.

For more info on the BB see the links:

All comments are Welcome. If you have pictures of BB colours or flags in other countries I would like to see them :)

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    I am an officer in the 7th Dublin Company BB and I fond this blog post interesting. I am currently undertaking a project of photographing all colours of BB companies in the Dublin Battalion. I am actually the squad commander pictured in the final photograph on this post! The 2 colours we are holding are the Republic of Ireland colour, and the Dublin Battalion colour, which is not associated with any company. If you would like further information on this project please feel free to contact