Royal Navies and Air Forces of the British Empire and Commonwealth


The Royal Navy and British Empire gave birth to many of the world's leading navies of today. These navies from humble beginnings often volunteer forces joined together for the better cause of world peace, trade and commerce. http://www.royal-navy.org/articles/article.php?name=1

The Royal Navy
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White Ensign flown by S.M. Scouts
White Ensign - 1st Flag flown by S.M. Scouts in March 1908 and at all subsequent standing camps and Trek Camps of 1st Claremont Troop.
http://www.scouting.org.za/groups/1stclaremont/history/firstflag.html

Battle Ensign and Ship's Plaque from the fifth HMS Nottingham 1916

Battle Ensign of HMS Campbell, in action D-Day
http://www.eriding.net/media/photos/history/eden_camp/050525_cbrown_mp_his_edcamp_2773.jpg

Another ensign from D-Day
On display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum.
http://www.rnsubmus.co.uk/dday/dday.htm

White ensign recovered after 81 years underwater from HMS Boxer
Presentation to the Shipwreck Museum at Arreton, Isle of Wight of the ensign belonging to the torpedo boat destroyer HMS Boxer, Britain's oldest serving destroyer, sunk in collision with the ambulance transport ship, St. Patrick in 1918. According to E.J. Towse, responsible for recovering the flag,
I had wandered off the main wreckage by about 8 metres and found a tangled heap of material in a small isolated piece of broken ironwork. After considerable pulling I managed to remove what appeared to be some sort of flag. The Union section was obvious, although I could not establish the extent of the damage while still underwater. As I carried the soggy heap around for the remainder of my dive I wondered if it was worthwhile recovering these remains. Surface examination proved exciting; it was obviously a large white ensign (12ft. by 6ft.) in remarkably good preservation in spite of the physical damage. The colours and material seemed almost unaffected by their 81 years underwater and a presumed life of over 100 years, from her completion in June 1895.

White Ensign over HMS Antelope



HMS Liverpool dived on the wreck of HMS Antelope to raise a White Ensign over her, maintaining the tradition of keeping an ensign flying over as many of the Navy's war graves as possible. Royal Engineers regimental cap badge attached to the ensign, marking loss of Staff Sergeant Prescott, the Bomb Disposal Officer killed whilst attempting to make safe a bomb lodged inside HMS Antelope. http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/server?show=nav.1684&imageIndex=26
7ft x 14ft stitched ensignTwo by Three foot flag dating apparently from the 1940/50s
50" X 104"
12 feet by 6 feet with the British War Department World War 2 Arrowhead stamp mark on the flag edge.

80 x 58 inches
171 by 91 centimetres
Huge flag made of a woven material marked "Boatswain 6" and has a rope on the one side with a hook.

5 foot x 10 foot 1917 Royal Navy Ensign104 by 56 inches
Dated 1939, 70" X 37"
72"X38"
Rather singular use of clips for this new MOD surplus issue 3 yard ensign.

RN Ensign and Commission Pennant

Flying the Ensign: Bosun ‘CK’ raises the Ensign whilst approaching UK territorial waters.
http://www.someoneelseslife.com/?p=488
Official Royal Navy Commissioning or Masthead Pennant measuring 3” x 36”. Modern Royal Navy commissioning pennants are significantly shorter than in previous centuries - typically 1m in length and only 10cm at the hoist, tapering to a squared-off point. Made of nylon or nylon-wool bunting, the field consists white with the red cross of St. George sewn on at the head.
http://www.lighthouseantiques.net/uniforms/uniforms.html

Royal Australian Navy
At first, Royal Australian Navy ships flew the British White Ensign from the stern, under the direction of the British Admiralty. Australian government ministers, along with their counterparts from other dominions such as Canada, had proposed in 1909 that a White Ensign defaced with a local symbol would be more appropriate, however the Admiralty insisted that the national flag flown from the jackstaff at the bow was sufficient to display the nationality of the ship.

By 1965, Australian forces were fighting in the Vietnam War, a war which did not involve the British, and a member of parliament questioned the appropriateness of using the ensign of another country. At the same time, it was reported in parliament that the Navy were looking for a distinctly Australian ensign. On considering the matter on 21 January 1966, the Naval Board recommended to the Government "that the Royal Australian Navy should have its own unique white ensign", a "white flag with the Union Flag in the upper canton at the hoist with six blue stars positioned as in the Australian flag". The new ensign was granted Royal Assent on 7 November 1966 and announced by the Prime Minister on 23 December 1966. The introduction of the ensign was brought forward from the originally planned date, 1 May 1967, to 1 March, when HMAS Boonaroo became the first ship to be commissioned under the Australian white ensign.
Royal Australian Navy
At first, Royal Australian Navy ships flew the British White Ensign from the stern, under the direction of the British Admiralty. Australian government ministers, along with their counterparts from other dominions such as Canada, had proposed in 1909 that a White Ensign defaced with a local symbol would be more appropriate, however the Admiralty insisted that the national flag flown from the jackstaff at the bow was sufficient to display the nationality of the ship.

By 1965, Australian forces were fighting in the Vietnam War, a war which did not involve the British, and a member of parliament questioned the appropriateness of using the ensign of another country. At the same time, it was reported in parliament that the Navy were looking for a distinctly Australian ensign. On considering the matter on 21 January 1966, the Naval Board recommended to the Government "that the Royal Australian Navy should have its own unique white ensign", a "white flag with the Union Flag in the upper canton at the hoist with six blue stars positioned as in the Australian flag". The new ensign was granted Royal Assent on 7 November 1966 and announced by the Prime Minister on 23 December 1966. The introduction of the ensign was brought forward from the originally planned date, 1 May 1967, to 1 March, when HMAS Boonaroo became the first ship to be commissioned under the Australian white ensign.




Royal Canadian Navy
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Possibly 1907-1921
Royal Canadian Navy
HMCS Sackville
HMCS SACKVILLE prior to her commissioning circa 1941. Today it continues to fly the blue ensign and that of the Royal Navy.

HMCS Haida
The HMCS Haida is a Tribal-class destroyer that served in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) from 1943-1963. She sank more enemy surface tonnage than any other Canadian warship. She is also the only surviving Tribal-class destroyer out of 27 vessels that were constructed between 1937-1945 for the Royal Navy, Royal Australian Navy and the RCN and has been dubbed "the fightingest ship in the Royal Canadian Navy"
Left is 53" by 26" and appears to be wool whilst the label on the hoist reads Pioneer Brand Regâe(tm)d made by Jones Tent & Awning Ltd. Vancouver, B.C.
Personal flag in classroom

Canadian Red and White Ensigns
This cover of Crowsnest Magazine, shows the Red Ensign being lowered on the HMCS SASKATCHEWAN, and being replaced by the White Ensign of the RCN.
Royal Canadian Sea Cadets
The first Ensign of the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets (RCSC) was a white flag with a Union Jack Canton with the insignia of the RCSC at the fly. Christophe T. Stevenson (Ex-Coxswain of the RCSCC 223 Longueull)
Proposal for a Canadian Naval Ensign
From the Petition to Restore the Royal Designation: Royal Canadian Navy-Royal Canadian Air Force
The old White Ensign of the Royal Canadian Navy. When the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) was established in 1910, there was some dispute as to what ensign and jack Canadian warships should fly. Eventually it was decided that the White Ensign of the British Royal Navy (RN) would be the Canadian naval ensign, and that the Canadian Blue Ensign (already in use as the government ensign) would be the Canadian naval jack. This arrangement, however, was not entirely satisfactory. Since the jack was not flown underway, RCN ships at sea could not be distinguished from those of the RN. During World War I, therefore, Canadian warships began to display a green maple leaf on either side of the forward funnel. This informal insignia was later made official. The Canadian Navy has been without an official ensign since 1965.
But back to the abominable Canadian variant, which is not even considered the official naval ensign of the Canadian navy, but the Canadian Forces Naval Jack (i.e., worn at the bow when alongside only). That's because Canada doesn't officially have a navy any more, only a "Maritime Command" of the Canadian Armed Forces.
Why not ditch the anchor, bring back St. George and call it the "Royal Canadian Navy Ensign"? Once we reinstitute the Royal prefix to the Canadian navy that is. (Suggested design by Andrew Cusack)
Better yet, deface the ensign with the shield of Canada. Now we're getting somewhere. (Suggested design by Andrew Cusack)
No doubt this is too much to chew politically, but if you really want to get bold, replace the Canadian flag with the Union Jack. (Suggested design by Andrew Cusack)
And if you do all of that, well, you might as well also reinstate the old Jack of the Royal Canadian Navy.
http://rcn-rcaf.blogspot.com/
The earliest proposal for a Canadian Naval Ensign:

This flag was proposed as the Royal Canadian Navy Ensign, but wasn't approved or put into use. When the Naval Service of Canada was established in 1910, the government wanted to adopt the British White Ensign defaced with the Canadian shield as the naval ensign, but the British Admiralty, which had the final say in such matters at that time, would not hear of it.
The funny thing is that some fifty years later, at the time of the Vietnam War, the Admiralty demanded that Australia and New Zealand cease using the undifferentiated White Ensign on their warships. I guess the Canadians asked too soon.

http://www.loeser.us/flags/canada.html


For many of the serving naval personnel, the transition - giving up the old ensigns, and even more the adoption of army-type ranks and green uniforms instead of the distinctive naval ones - was a very painful process. Researcher Alan Filewood recalls:
"I grew up in a navy family; my father was a regular force officer who had risen from the lower deck, and he was himself the son of a petty officer who had come to Canada as one of the British Royal Navy crews that brought Canada's first warships to this country in 1911 and elected to stay to build the RCN. Growing up in a naval family, I was imbued with the traditions of a service that prided itself on its British roots."
"I recall vividly the day the armed forces paraded in Ottawa to witness the lowering of the old service ensigns and the raising of the new. My mother was a naval vet, a former WREN, and at this transformative moment of national symbolism, she wept; with the lowering of the White Ensign something disappeared from her history. Sometime later my father came home demoralized in his new army-style uniform with an army rank. Like many other naval officers, he retired soon thereafter."
The controversy included the dismissal of Rear-Admiral William Landymore, senior officer in the Atlantic, who tried to secure commitments that naval traditions would be maintained, but was later fired by Defence Minister Paul Hellyer for his opposition to the changes.
[Alan Filewood, "Theatre, Navy and The Narrative of 'True Canadianism'", in "Theatre Research in Canada", Vol. 13 No. 1&2 (Spring/Fall 1992) [http://www.lib.unb.ca/Texts/TRIC/bin/get.cgi?directory=vol13_1_2/&filename=Filewod.ht] .]

Royal New Zealand Navy





The seller of this 2 1/2 feet by 18 inch ensign claims that this flag is of "(a)lmost certain to be of WW2 vintage" when the flag design itself only dates from 1968.

HM The Queen's Naval Colours

Queen's Colour, presented to HMAS Cerberus
The Queen's Colours are Australian White Ensigns of silk, with a Crown and Royal Cypher superimposed, and blue and gold cords and tassels. http://www.diggerhistory.info/pages-flags/cerebus.htm

Naval Ensign of Fiji


Royal Flying Corps
An embroidered copy being sold currently on eBay, described as a "typical flag as made and flown before official design was introduced."

Royal Air Force
The RAF Ensign is flown from the flagstaff on every RAF station during daylight hours. The design was approved by King George V in 1921, after much opposition from the Admiralty, who have the right to approve or veto any flag flown ashore or on board ship.


The RAF Ensign flown from the tail of R101 on its fateful flight in 1930 - Displayed in St Mary's Church in Cardington
Saluting in front of the Indian Air Force ensign during the 10th Anniversary Parade in 1943.
At Deenethorpe airfield in the Netherlands during the war, allocated to RAF bomber Command.
6 x 3ft RAF station ensign manufactured from 34 different stitched panels, with a hemp rope and brass Inglefield clips. The header is lightly marked PORTER BROS LTD (*) 6 x 3 with a faded contract number and broad arrow. The type and quality of manufacture, the natural materials used, the 1930's Admiralty pattern brass Inglefield clips indicate an early-war production. Made as per British Admiralty regulation, the RAF ensigns were marked with the broad arrow like Royal Navy flags, and not with the AM markings.


60" by 108"
Royal Air Force light blue cotton with union flag and the RAF roundel. Flown condition, 39x17. Mounted on rope and toggle. Multi piece construction.
http://www.messdress-britishmilitaria.com/raf/raf_flags.html

108" (274 cm) x 50" (127 cm)
6'x4' Royal Air Force Ensign from the estate of the late Squadron Leader George Edgar Church later to become Air Commodore prior to retirement when he then joined the Royal Navy Fleet Auxilliary as Surgeon Commander. Later in his illustrious life, he was to become a Justice of the Peace. He was a Squadron Commander in Palestine in 1936 and was mentioned in dispatches in 1937 for gallant and distinguished services in the field. During the war he was Principal Medical Officer of RAF Bomber Command. He was killed in a shooting accident in 1974.


14ft x 7ft linen stitched panels originally from RAF Coltishall Norfolk
73 x 35 inch approx., made by Black & Edgington Flags.

108" by 50"
6'x3' WWII RAF Base Flag with "1944" in black along the pole side of the flag.

 
Air Training Corps Ensign

Azure blue woven polyester Ensign defaced in the fly with the ATC badge digitally dye printed on a white knitted polyester circle appliquéd back to back with sewn Union Flag in canton. Size – 6’ x 3’, hemmed all round roped and toggled and sold for £138.00 at http://www.cadetkitshop.com/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=17.
Being sold at www.militaryitems.com for $350, the overall length of the flag is 9' x 4'. The end of the flag has a sewn shield displaying a flying eagle. Its size is approximately 25" x 30". The words "Venture, Adventure" are found at the feet of the shield while the words "Air Training Corps" surround the eagle in a circular pattern. A rectangular strip is found under the shield. That is where the Squadron name is found. "Squadron Nbr 343 Camberwell".


Royal Air Forces Association

Glorious personal example of a large royal airforce flag in woven fabric not flat cotton with a stitched panel Union Jack in the corner and appliqued device. Makers label on flag is CAPTAIN O.M.WATTS LTD London. Size 1m80 cm x 89 cm approx


617 Squadron (Dambusters) ensign

44 x 21 inches (112 x 53 cm)

Royal Canadian Air Force
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Royal Canadian Air Force

74X36


The world's largest RCAF Flag flying near the Nanton Museum in Alberta. Donated by Halifax 57 Rescue Canada, Flags Inc and The Model Train Store in the town.
Left: The RCAFA 447 Wing is located in an 'H' hut on the grounds of the Hamilton International Airport. The area was used as a Royal Air Force training facility from 1939 to 1945, and is one of the few remaining 'H' huts in existence from that era. Pictured is 447 Wing president, Judith Brown in the flag room.
Right:
40th anniversary of the first flight of Avro Arrow 201, March 21 1998, Toronto Airport Holiday Inn
Remembering the Battle of Britain in Canada
Canadian veterans of the Battle of Britain are guests of honour at the 67th anniversary parade at the Canadian Aviation Museum in Ottawa.

Produced by Flying Colours
The Colours of the RCAF at the National Air Force Museum of Canada; Trenton, Ontario.
Royal Canadian Air Cadets

Royal Australian Air Force

The RAAF was established in 1921. On 24 July 1922, the British Royal Air Force Ensign was approved as the ensign of the RAAF which was used until 1948 when the RAAF asked to change the flag to avoid confusion. A warrant for the new flag, which had the roundel in the lower fly of sky-blue ensign with Commonwealth Star and tilted southern cross to match the Australian national flag, was given in 1949. The RAAF adopted a distinctive roundel on 2 July 1956; a red kangaroo replacing the red circle of the British version. The old roundel remained on the ensign, however, until 1981, when the Her Majesty The Queen approved the change to the current flag.

The Royal Australian Air Force Ensign is used by the Royal Australian Air Force in Australia and overseas. It is based on the Australian national flag, with the field changed to Air Force blue, and the southern cross tilted clockwise to make room for the RAAF roundel inserted in the lower fly quarter. The roundel is a red leaping kangaroo on white within a dark blue ring. The ensign was proclaimed as a Flag of Australia under section 5 of the Flags Act on 6 May 1982.

The southern cross is tilted so that Gamma Crucis stays in the same position as for the Australian National Flag and that Alpha Crucis is moved along the x-axis towards the hoist by one-sixth of the width of the flag. This results in the axis being rotated 14.036° clockwise around Gamma Crucis and each star is rotated in this way, although the constellation as an whole is not simply rotated.
The RAAF Ensign below was marched in and laid up in a solemn ceremony at the National Service Heritage Chapel to mark National Service Day in 2007. The hand-made silk flag, with gold fringes, was the gift of the National Servicemen’s Branch of the Royal Australia Air Force Association and honours the 23,500 men called up for service in the RAAF between 1951 and 1957. The President of the National Servicemen’s Branch of the RAAF Association, Bob Cotter, carried the Ensign in escorted by four Cadets. After kneeling at the altar, Cotter presented the Ensign to the Association’s State Padre, Dr.Noel Wallis, who draped it on the new altar table, blessed just before the Service. The RAAF Association’s Chaplain, Father Paul Goodland, then blessed the Ensign. http://www.nashoqld.org.au/Wacol_Church_Service_2006.html
Left: Hanging in the "Australian Corner" of St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, London.
Centre: Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Amberley Catafalque Party present arms as the Air Force Ensign is lowered during the Air Force 88th anniversary celebrations held at Queen's Gardens, Brisbane city.
Right: At a 2007 Anzac Day parade in Brisbane
To celebrate the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF) 88th anniversary the RAAF Ensign was raised on the Canadian flag pole at Regatta point, Canberra. The Canadian Flagpole is located on the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin at Regatta Point. It was given to Australia in 1955 by the Honourable C. D. Howe, Minister of Trade and Commerce, on behalf of the Government of Canada...The flagpole is from a single spar of Douglas Fir logged from a forest in the Canadian province of British Columbia...The flagpole is buried more than three metres underground and including this below-ground length, is a total of more than 39 metres in height. Each year on July 1, Canada’s national day, the Canadian flag can be seen flying from the flagpole. www.defence.gov.au

RAAF Car Pennant
Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF)

At the New Zealand National Council, 2006
Left: The New Zealand Flag and flags of the RNZN, RNZAF, the original banner of the New Zealand Returned Soldiers’ Association and the current Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association banner and the flags of Australia, Canada and Fiji are arraigned on stage by New Zealand Defence Force bearers and escorts.
Right:
Corporal Chris Watty raises the Royal New Zealand Air Force ensign to commemorate its 71st anniversary.
Queen's Royal New Zealand Air Force Colour "The Queen's Colour is of RAF blue; it has a border in a motif of fern leaves, a fringe, cord and tassels of mixed red and gold silk. It bears the Royal Cypher surmounted by the St. Edward crown in the centre, in the canton the Union and in the second quarter the four main stars of the Southern Cross in gold. The staff is 2.45 metres (8 feet 1 inch) in length surmounted by a crown and lion."
Civil Air Ensigns of the Commonwealth
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The Civil Air Ensign is the flag that may be flown at airports in the United Kingdom and from landed British aircraft and was instituted by an Order-in-Council on 11 August 1931. The order stated that "An ensign called the Civil Air Ensign is the proper national colour to be flown by aircraft and air transport undertakings and at aerodromes."  
 The ensign's field is light blue and has a dark blue Latin cross which is fimbriated white placed overall. The Union Flag is in the canton.  The Civil Air Ensign was instituted by an Order in Council on 11 August 1931. The order stated that "An ensign called the Civil Air Ensign is the proper national colour to be flown by aircraft and air transport undertakings and at aerodromes." The first Civil Air Ensign to be flown in London was hoisted by The Hon Mrs Victor Bruce, the noted British aviatrix.
 The 1931 Order was revoked by the The Civil Air Ensign Order made by His Majesty in Council on 18 March 1937 additionally permitting the use of the flag on buildings used by the Ministry of Civil Aviation or air transport undertakings, on vehicles used personally by the Minister and by any person given special permission by the Minister.
The prototype flag had been made up in silk and was kept throughout WWII by the Civil Aviation Department in a series of locations in London. In October 1948 it was handed to the Ministry of Civil Aviation Library for retention and display. The visible stains on the light blue silk were said to have been caused by water from the fire brigade's hoses used in quelling a fire in the roof at Parliament Square House, caused by a German incendiary bomb, whilst the CAD was accommodated there.
  In 1957, a Ministry Working Party reviewing the Air Navigation Order concluded that it was anomalous to regulate the use of the Civil Air Ensign when no special regulations were required to control the use of its maritime equivalent, the red ensign. All mention of the Civil Air Ensign was therefore omitted from the Air Navigation Order 1960.
Flags produced and sold by Flying Colours


Australian Civil Air Ensign


Flying at the RAF Hunsdon Memorial

New Zealand Civil Air Ensign
The New Zealand Civil Air Ensign may be flown on any New Zealand aircraft, licensed aerodrome, or place authorised as an aerodrome. Airlines owning New Zealand aircraft may fly the ensign upon or in proximity to their principal office or place of business.
http://www.mch.govt.nz/nzflag/other-flags.html
Fijian Civil Air Force