Once we flapped in humid breeze
In distant places overseas.
Flew we high on battered spire,
Wreathed in smoke from cannon fire.
With dreadful pride and tearful eye
we saw our guardians fall and die.
We gave sentinel when we were hung
in hallowed halls, for battles won.
In close-quarter column, in ordered advance,
On horseback, on foot, with sword and with lance.
At Magdala, Alma and Tel-el-Kabir,
Forward the Colours, regardless of fear.
On the veld and under fire,
Through trenches and mud and bloody barbed-wire,
At Calcutta, Colenso and Modderfontein,
The Somme, Ypres and El Alamein,
Dirty and faded, now laid to rest,
Carried through fire and smoke by the best.
Tattered and torn we accept our lot,
and silent we hang, for the most part forgot.
But when bands do play and soldiers march by
We’re stirred to the quick and eager to fly,
But motionless we must remain
Unless unfurled for battle again.