l l THIS embroidery was produced in India by a soldier serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment in 1896.
The skilful needlework depicting the battalion’s Colours, emblems and battle honours gives us a sense of the pride he felt for the history and traditions of the regiment.
During the late nineteenth century regiments of the British army comprised two battalions. During peace time one battalion would be stationed at home while the other served abroad, usually in India.
The 2nd Battalion had been in India since the 1880s helping to secure the Northern frontier against Russian invasion. By the mid-1890s they were garrisoned in Danapur in what is now the state of Bihar in North East India.
During this time there was an outbreak of cholera which required men to be quarantined in a separate camp. Perhaps the soldier produced this embroidery while recovering from illness, or simply to relieve boredom in the barracks.
Regimental flags known as Colours were first used to help organise troops and act as a rallying point in the chaos of battle. It was considered a great dishonour for them to fall into enemy hands and every effort was made to protect them.
Today they have a ceremonial function and help to pass on regimental history to new servicemen and women.
The King’s or Queen’s Colour is typically the Union Flag with additional motifs related to the regiment. The other, known as the Regimental or Second Colour lists the regiment’s battle honours.
This embroidery can be seen in a new exhibition ‘Stitching Stories’ at Central Art Gallery in Ashton-under-Lyne.
The gallery is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 12.30pm and 1pm to 4pm. It is open 10am to 1pm on Saturdays.
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Embroidered Colours of the Manchester Regiment
The Regiment’s Battle Honours