Court Guard to Colour Guard: Dunedin Man Represents New Zealand in Paris

SSGT Philip Witchall
SSGT Philip Witchall

5 July 2016

Otago and Southland will be represented when New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel parade the Regimental Colour of the 4th Otago and Southland Battalion in the French military parade in Paris on Bastille Day (14 July) in Paris.

Regimental colours and banners representing New Zealand units that served in the First World War will be paraded by 86 NZDF personnel during the parade – the first time these flags have been paraded together outside of New Zealand.

Dunedin man Staff Sergeant (SSGT) Philip Witchall of 2/4 Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment will be part of the Colour Party parading the 4th Otago and Southland Battalion regimental colour. He will march with Lieutenant Catherine Hayward, Warrant Officer Class Two Andrew Bain and SSGT Daniel Bristow.

SSGT Witchall, a platoon commander in the NZDF Reserve Forces, works for the Ministry of Justice providing security services for the lower South Island. He joined the New Zealand Army as a regular soldier in 1999 and served in Timor Leste, the Solomon Islands and Afghanistan. Now in the Reserve Forces, SSGT Witchall says being chosen to represent the NZDF in one of the world’s oldest and largest military parades is a great honour.

“The regimental colour represents the spirit and actions of 4th Otago and Southland Battalion and I’m proud to represent former and current serving NZDF military personnel,” says Philip.

The 4th Otago and Southland Battalion was founded in 1948. In 2012, the battalion amalgamated with the 2nd Canterbury, Nelson, Marlborough, West Coast Battalion to form 2/4 Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment. Its Regimental Colour bears 21 battle honours including the French First World War honours of Somme 1916, Bapaume 1918, Cambrai 1918, Hindenburg Line, and France and Flanders 1916-1918.

Regimental colours are flags which symbolise the spirit of a regiment as they bear the battle honours and badges granted to the regiment in commemoration of the gallant deeds performed by its members since it was raised.

Bastille Day is a French national holiday and is commemorated across the country with military parades and celebratory activities.


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This page was last reviewed on 7 July 2016.