Tuesday, 31 May 2016

National Museum of the Royal Navy

This idea came to me after watching a BBC documentary about the restoration of HMS Caroline, which is a veteran of the 1st World War and currently being turned into a floating museum in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. Currently owned by the National Museum of the Royal Navy, seeing the shots of the ship it struck me that no flags were flying. In stark contrast to this 2006 photo from Wikipeadia which show Caroline in her glory;
When this photo was taken Caroline was still technically a serving warship! Although she hadn't put to sea since about 1930, she was used as a training ship and base for the Northern Ireland Royal Naval Reserve. (You may notice in this picture the flag of a Commodore of the Naval Reserve is flying from the mast). She was formally decommissioned about two years ago so no longer being a warship it would be inappropriate to continue to fly the white ensign and Union Jack. I am sure this is a situation found across most of the vessels owned by the National Museum of the Royal Navy across the country. Although some (including HMS Caroline I think) might be entitled to use the National Historic Fleet ensign, i though perhaps the National Museum of the Royal Navy should have its own ensign. This is my proposal:

A blue ensign as the National Museum is a public body. The badge in the fly features a shield with a Union Jack chief, with the cross of St George in the rest of the field. This is inspired by the White ensign, the national flag flown by British navy ships. It is of course topped by a Naval coronet/crown. 
A flag variant of the shield could be used as a jack:

The initials of the National Museum of the Royal Navy are on the white field. Although in the case of a jack the civil jack would probably be more appropriate as this is in effect the naval jack (Union Jack) with a white boarder. A variant of the ensign with letters:

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Union of Commonwealth Realms

Before I start this post I would like to apologize for my lack of recent posts, this is due in part to research and study for a print publication I am currently working on, and it is taking up the greater part of my spare time, so post might be few and far between I'm afraid, but I will try to put one up every now and then.
Currently British politics is dominated (with a slight exception of regional elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) by the upcoming referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union. As usual I am not advocating any political opinion, but I was intrigued when I seen a hypothetical scenario. The scenario was the UK leaves and forms a free trade and movement zone, between the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. with certain joint institutions, rather similar to the European Union but more anglocentric. I even seen a potential flag for such a union by Zach Elsbury:
  It evokes the British ensign which not only includes the Union Flag but is the same style of flag used by Australia and New Zealand with a red field for Canada (the former flag of Canada was a red ensign). Its defaced with a shield quartered with the national plants of the four nations.
Inspired by this design I thought of having ago at a similar flag, with more emphasis of an international organisation rather than a colony. My first design was this:
Still inspired by an esign which has elements all of the four member states flags have in common,The Union Jack has official status in Canada and the UK, and appears on the Australian and New Zealand flags. it features the gold wreath and a globe. The roses form part of the cypher which is in the centre of all the commonwealth royal standards outside the UK, including those of Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The globe is from the flag of the Commonwealth of Nations. This flag is timeless as it has no direct symbolism to any individual state, meaning if a member leaves or other realms like Tuvalu or Jamacia join the flag doesn't require changing. However thinking the globe might look a little like a mock up British Empire flag, I decided to replace it with a crown, the symbol of the monarch which share:
I like this better as it is a simpler design and looks a little less cramped.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Illinois State Flag

Illinois is a state in the Midwest region of the United States of America. It was the 21st state to join the Union and is the 5th largest American state in terms of population. Like many US state flags the flag of Illinois is "Seal on a bedsheet" (SOAB) design, a plain field with the state seal in the centre. Hardly an inspiring flag for such a large state. Plus the seal emulates the Great Seal of the United States  rather than contain any regional or local symbolism.
The flag of the State of Illinois
 Although the Illinois flag stands out from the other state flags because its white rather than a blue flag, its still not all inspiring. Infact I recently read an article suggesting an alternate proposal:

New Illinois flag proposed by David Morris
There is no doubt that this flag is far better than the current one, I like the symbolism described in the article but not the actual symbols. I think this new flag looks like its from the Anglican church in the USA. I designed a different flag based on similar symbolism:
Its got blue in it to represent Lake Michigan, Three red stripes on the saltire to represent Northern ,Central and Southern Illinois, with the star representing the state in its entirety. The five points of the star representing the five nations or entities Illinois belonged to before it became its own entity in 1809: France, Great Britain, Virginia, Northwest Territory and Indiana. The four separate elements in the field can continue to represent milestone in the history of the state; it becoming a state in 1818, the incorporation of Chicago in 1833, The election of Abraham Lincoln to the US Presidency in 1860 and becoming the first state to ratify the thirteenth amendment to the US constitution (the abolition of slavery) in 1865. Red representing the the blood of the indigenous people of Illinois and gold symbolising the prairie and agricultural wealth of the state, with white representing the French colonists who pioneered European settlement in the region. (a white flag often used as the flag of the Kingdom of France). The design of the star and saltire is inspired by the flag of the United States, and makes the flag stand out from the other American State flags. 

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

UK Devolved Administrations

With regional elections on the horizon this year I thought it might be interesting to do a post about the British devolved administrations. That is the regional governments of the United Kingdom who's powers are given (devolved) to them by the national parliament in Westminster. The devolved administrations are the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the National Assembly for Wales and the Greater London Authority. I though it would be a good idea for the devolved institutions to use coats of arms. You could also include the governments of the overseas territories and arguably the crown dependencies as devolved administrations, however I am focussing on the United Kingdom administrations as the territories and dependencies generally have their own coats of arms.

Scottish Parliament 

First off I'll start with the Scottish Parliament, which although founded in 1999, is arguably the oldest of the regional governments with roots in the Estates of Parliament (the original parliament of the Kingdom of the Scots) founded in the 13th Century. The Scottish administration is the only one of the devolved administrations with the title of parliament, which is significant as that suggests where its constitutional authority and power comes from. The difference between a parliament and assembly is that a parliment governs in the name of the crown. (although you could argue the same about assemblies as they get their power from the UK Parliament who inturn get it from the crown) There are notable differences between how parliaments and assemblies operate the Scottish First Minister for example is the Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland, whereas in Northern Ireland and Wales the Great Seal is kept by the Secretary of State of the NI/Wales Office who is a member of the UK Parliament rather than a member devolved Assembly etc etc. So as Scotland is a parliament who constitutionally governs in the name of the crown a variation of the Royal coat of arms could be used. This variant is already used by the UK government in Scotland:

As the above variant is already used I think the pre 1603 version could be used:
The full coat of arms including the order of the thistle, crest, supporters and compartment. The lesser arms simply being the shield.

Northern Ireland Assembly 

Northern Ireland was the first region of the UK to have devolution, the Northern Ireland Parliament first meeting in 1921. It was granted this coat of arms in 1924, the first and only arms granted to a devolved government in the UK:

The NI Parliament was abolished in 1973 by the Constitution of Northern Ireland Act, The Northern Ireland Assembly was established in 1998. It hasn't been granted a coat of arms, although it could claim to be the successor of the NI Parliament and as such successor to its arms it doesn't, adopting instead an emblem featuring six flax flowers:

I think governments even devolved governments deserve a proper coat of arms, and my proposal is influenced on the former arms and current logo:
The shield features the cross of St Patrick which represents NI in the Union Flag. It is defaced with a gold shield bearing the red hand that is the traditional symbol of the province of Ulster, six of whom's nine counties form Northern Ireland. The chief is blue (the traditional colour of Ireland) and features a gold portcullis ensigned with the de burke arms flanked by two harps.  The portcullis is a British symbol of nobility that has evolved over time as the symbol of government and features in the badge of the national parliament. The gold shield with red cross is that of the Hibernio-Norman De Burke family, who as the medieval Earls of Ulster ruled the province. The harp on a blue field is the arms of the Kingdom of Ireland and used on the royal coat of arms and the arms of the Republic of Ireland. The crest features an antique Irish crown out of which six flax flowers are growing. This is open to interpretation.  The lion and elk supporters bearing the banners represents the two traditions of Northern Ireland. The lion wearing the St Edwards Crown represents those whose ancestors came from the island of Great Britain in the 17th Century plantation. The lion is the main national animal of the United Kingdom and the banner is a variant of the 1606 union flag. It has the St Andrew's Cross on top of that of St George, to symbolise the Ulster-Scots majority of the planters. It is also a flag of James I/VI who was the architect of the plantation, it is also to my knowledge the only use of this variant of the Union Flag in heraldry.  The Elk with the green harp banner represents those of gaelic-Irish descent. The Elk being an ancient Irish animal and the green harp banner being a historic Irish flag. It is first recorded being flown from ships of the Catholic confederation of the 1640s and was used as a defacto national flag of Ireland by nationalists and to an extent the establishment until it was replaced by the Irish tricolour. It is important to note that while these flags symbolise national identities, they are historic flags rather than current national flags, in fact neither ever had official status. The symbolism of the two supporters representing the two main traditions supporting the shield together is evident. The same animals are also used on the former coat of arms. The compartment as well as featuring shamrocks also features stones from the Giant's Causeway. 

National Assembly for Wales 

Wales does not have a coat of arms in it's own right, it does however have two royal badges that are used by government. The first one features a red dragon on a shield which is divided into the colours of the royal house of Tudor (green and white) and is what the current welsh flag is based on. This badge dates 1953 although it has older origins. It was originally used by the Wales Office and was used by the Welsh Assembly until 2008. It is still used by the Wales Office.

The second was approved in 2008 and is based on the historic royal arms of Wales, as used by Welsh princes in the thirteenth century:
As heraldic badges go I think these are pretty sound, although I would have them the other way round. (the historic royal arms used by the Wales office as its a UK government department and the draggon by the assembly). However if the Welsh Assembly was ever granted a full coat of arms my proposal would be something like this:
The shield is like the 1953 royal badge divided into the Tudor colours, and charged with the red dragon on a grass base. The chief is divided into gold and red with the lions in alternate colours from the royal arms, and a portcullis divided into alternate colours. The portcullis symbolising government and devolution from parliament. The crest features a medieval crown with the Prince of Wales' feathers symbolizing the country was historically a principality. The supporters are of course red dragons, because its the national symbol of Wales and because dragons are awesome. The base features leeks the national plant emblem. It also feature the mottos of the two badges. "the red dragon inspires action" at the bottom and "I am true to my country" around the shield, both in the Welsh tongue of course." 

Greater London Authority 

the Greater London Authority is the government of London both the 1 square mile City of London and the surrounding boroughs and districts, although the former has a great deal of autonomy. The GLA consists of the office of the mayor of London and the London Assembly. London is governed more like a province than a city, which given its size and population and the individual councils the boroughs (some of which have or claim the title of city) and districts isn't surprising. Historically this group of municipalities which together form London has been grouped into a "county" of London:

Then this was reorganised into a Greater London Council, with more authority than a county council:
However this didn't last long and the GLA was set up in 2000. However it was never granted a coat of arms which is in contrast to the local borough councils. So here is my design for a coat of arms for the London government. 
 it is unchanged from an earlier proposal (primarily because I think its a good design). It features a portcullis which is not only in keeping with the theme of devolved assemblies, but has become a symbol of London itself being found in arms and heraldic insignia of institutions like the Metropolitan Police Service and the Army Reserve's London Regiment etc. The chief features a lion passant (like the London Council arms but in red) flanked by the lancastrian and yorkist roses which together form the Tudor rose, the floral emblem of England. The red lion symbolises strength and courage and the name "red lion" is also a popular pub name in the area. The lion supporters with the banners reflect London's position as the defacto capital both of England and the United Kingdom as a whole, 

 English Parliament

England at present doesn't have a devolved government and is governed directly by the UK parliament. This has led to instances of non English MPs from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales (and London) being able to vote on matters that only affect England. The government is seeking to redress this by giving cities greater autonomy (particularly northern cities like Liverpool and Manchester) and by introducing English blocking measures on English matters in committee stages of law making (although not in the voting chambour). This is rather thin stuff and a devolved English parliament or English regional assemblies, would in my opinion be better (it would also make the UK more like a federation). I have done two posts about regional and provincial assemblies. But if there is a hypothetical all England parliament what would it's coat of arms look like?
As its a parliament (and I have no doubt it would be given the title of parliament) a variant of the royal coat of arms could be used:
Like the Scottish Parliament it only uses the quarter of full royal arms relevant to it. (the three lion passants), this is within the Order of the Garter. It features the royal crest of England, has two lion supporters crowned with medieval crowns (although a St Edwards Crown would be no less appropriate I just didn't want four variants of the same crown in the one coat of arms) and the compartment/base features tudor roses.

Royal coat of arms

This was something I was doing around the same time. I was originally working on an Irish variant of the royal coat of arms for use by the Northern Ireland Office (same way the Scottish variant is used by the Scotland Office). This was the result:
The shield is quartered so that the Irish arms are in the first and fourth quarter. The collar around the shield is also that of the Order of Saint Patrick. The crest revives the historic crest of Ireland not officially used since the Act of Union in 1800, using the stag emerging from a tower with three turrets. It also features an antique Irish crown although this is part of the crest rather than an actual crown. 
But what about a royal arms for Wales? Well I had ago at that two:
simple shield of the UK but with an inner shield with the historic royal arms of Wales. This is designed to give Wales the recognition it lacks and deserves, but at the same time taking into account it was never a kingdom as such. The motto is the same as the royal motto but in Welsh. It also has a dragon supporter and a dragon crest supporting a harp. (the harp is the national instrument of Wales). 

Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Boys' Brigade

Another post on the colours and uniforms of the Boys' Brigade (BB). The current system of company colours is that each company (in the UK at least) has a Queen's Colour in the form of a Union Flag defaced with the BB emblem. And a Company Colour (HM the Queen is the patron of the BB) which is either a blue ensign with BB emblem in the fly and and the name of the company in banners surrounding it. Or alternatively a St Andrew's Saltire (the brigade has its origins in Scotland) with the BB emblem in the top quarter and the company name on a circle in the bottom quarter:
Queen's Colour
Company colour (ensign)
alternative Company Colour (St Andrew's Saltire)
The problem with these is that they are very text heavy, and text is something that should b kept to a minimal on any type of flag, and avoided if possible. The fact that it is also displayed on banners rather than the field of the flag makes it hard to distinguish when the flag is moving at any distance. The second is the small badge place in a decorative circle with the name around it. It might look good as a badge, but flags are moving objects and static badges like this, especially small and over detailed don't work well for moving objects.
I redesigned the layout for company colours:
 First off the Queen's Colour. I didn't do much however I modified it to look more like Queen's Colour and less like a defaced Union Jack. The Union Flag is heraldically correct (the white fimbriation is minimal) as it often is in ceremonial standards. The central badge is also ensigned with a crown. As it is the Queen's Colour it makes sense to depict the symbol of the Queen's authority. It also makes it look more an official Queen's Colour and less like a defaced Union Jack. In this example I used the St Edwards Crown but the Crown of Scotland could also be used on Scottish flags. The Company number is below in roman numerals (most companies have names like 4th Londonderry or 1st Glasgow, even if it is the only BB company in the town it will still have a number). The Queen's colour only applies to UK companies, companies in the Republic of Ireland have the option of using the national tricolour instead, this is undefaced or unmarked in anyway.
Next the Company colour. I dropped the Union Canton, as I seen no need for a Union Jack to appear in the company colour if the Queen's Colour is a Union Flag. I did however keep the ensign layout in mind. I though the main thing that makes unit/branch flags is a unit/branch insignia or local/affiliated symbolism. So in the canton is a shield this could depict either the coat of arms (escutcheon only) of the local municipality or in cases were municipal districts have merged the former municipal arms, or if the affiliated church has its own unique heraldic insignia (as some Anglican churches do) this could be used (it must he a heraldic type insignia not a corporate style logo). Below is the company number in roman numerals. The full name is still used however one should be able to tell the company the flag belongs to by looking at the numeral and shield. The Brigade badge occupies the centre field, this is large with minimal detail to enable it to standout mote.

Next is the design for Battalion/district colours:
I thought as its a Christian organisation, it would be appropriate for battalion/district colours to be based on the crosses of/attributed too the patron saint of the region they're from. English battalions have the Cross of St George, Scottish the Saltire of St Andrew, Welsh the Cross of St David, and Northern Irish and Irish battalions use the saltire of St Patrick. The main identifying factor is a again a local coat of arms, preferably different to the one used on company colours, although in some cases where a battalion covers a single municipality there could be exceptions. In English, Welsh and Irish flags the cross is defaced with the BB emblem and the local coat of arms is placed in the canton. Whereas in Scottish and Northern Irish flags the badge is placed above the saltire and the coat of arms below. In all regions the battalion colour would be used in conjunction with the Queen's colour (or national tricolour in the Republic of Ireland) of the host company.

Same time as designing flags I was playing about with uniforms so I might aswell include them here. The boy's Brigade has had numerous uniforms that have changed quite a lot since its foundation:
The current uniform of blue shirt and tie (white shirt for officers) is a little bit minimist for the oldest  uniformed christian youth organisation. So here is my proposal:
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I haven't went for a radical change, its still a shirt and tie based uniform, however I have done some things to make it more regimental. I kept the characteristic light blue shirt although I did consider a darker colour as dark blue stains can easily be seen on them if the shirt gets wet. The shirt also has shoulder straps, this is for lanyards and sashes, but primarily for the type of armband. badges earned are displayed on an armband. This has been a dark blue fabric on which the badges are pined, fastened into place by a velcro strap around the arm. There are a couple of problems that can be encountered. One is that the strap can stick out and look unsightly, the other is that the armband can slip down the arm, particularly during marching when you swing your arms. I propose a brassard type armband that covers the arm from elbow to shoulder, where the shoulder strap goes through a loop thus restricting its ability to move up or down the arm. As well as badges this brassard can display rank insignia and the company name. A regional flag and battalion or district name patch is worn on the upper left arm. The shirt also has a name tag and an BB badge embroidered on a navy circle so it stands out. Khaki boyscout type trousers are worn as these look a little more formal. The tie is a simple blue tie with the Brigade emblem.
Junior (lance corporal to corporal)  Non Commissioned Officers (NCOs) wear exactly the same uniform the only distinguishment being the chevrons on their brassard. However once promotion to senior (Sergeant and Staff Sergeant) NCO comes there are some slight differences to the uniform as well as the rank insignia. A single gold stripe appears on the tie and white lanyard is worn around the left shoulder. Staff Sergeants also wear a scarlet sash. This is a tradition in the BB that has largely been dropped in recent times which I think is a shame. At this senior stage the badges such as the Duke of Edinburgh's Awards and Presidents and Queen's Badges should be being worked for and if eared are worn on an armband on the left arm.
I personally never liked the white officer's shirt, I think it looks more like an ordinary dress shirt than a uniform. So I changed the colour to tan, this again is I am sorry to say based on Boyscout uniforms. Rank insignia is displayed on slides on the shoulder straps. There are some slight differences between warrant officers and lieutenants. Warrant officers wear a blue and white lanyard and have two gold bars on their tie. There is also a white ring around the BB badge on both the shirt and tie. warrant officers who have done King George VI youthwork training to become a lieutenant have a gold and blue lanyard, and a gold ring around the BB badge as well as three stripes on their tie. These are the only officer ranks in the BB other ranks such as company captain are brevet ranks with those in that position reverting to lieutenant when they leave the post. Likewise battalion President and brigade level positions are considered as appointments rather than ranks. Therefor Captains wear the same uniform as a lieutenant the only difference being the insignia on his or her shoulder slides.
Caps have largely been dropped by most BB companies in the British Isles however I think caps are one of the things that distinguish the BB from other uniformed youth organisations like the Scouts. I did consider a khaki cap to match the trousers however I though it looked very militaristic so I changed to a dark blue one but with a khaki ridge and top. Officer traditionally wear glengarry caps which is a reference to the BB's Scottish origins. The caps are of course are only worn indoors when on parade.
Kilts may be worn on formal occasions however they should be in the Boys' Brigade tartan as recorded by the Scottish tartans authority. Alternatively the similar Sir William Smith tartan or in the case of Northern Ireland and the Republic the solid saffron tartan may be worn. Pipe bands are free to chose their own tartan.

The rank insignia is simplistic. Starting at one chevron (Lance Corporal) with the max being four (Staff Sergeant). Likewise the officers wear bars on their shoulder slides. A warrant officer wearing a single blue bar. Lieutenant wearing two, and Captains three. Until Presidents and department heads. They wear three bars but they are gold rather than blue to distinguish them from a captain. Regional Presidents are the same but also have the BB badge. Outdoors uniform is slightly different:
Outdoor dress consists of the same uniform as indoor uniform, but with a blue jumper with cap worn. Brassards, arm bands and sashes are worn on/over the jumper. For foul weather a coat is worn. It is less formal brassards and sashes aren't worn over it, NCOs may wear rank insignia on shoulder slides if they wish, but this isn't a requirement. 
I redesigned some of the badges and the layout:
Top ones on the right arm are the main badges. Physical, community and skills awards. At present different badges are awarded for the different levels. However I think it is better to denote this by placing boarders on the badge. Level 1 is the badge itself, red level 2, White level 3 and gold level 4. I redesigned the compass badge to a more heraldic compass design. I also added a specialist badge (in this case a bugle horn for a bugler) for musicians drummers and pipers will have depictions of their instruments, where as other musicians would wear a bard's harp. Duke of Edinburgh's Awards, Presidents badge and Queens Badge (Founders Badge in the Republic of Ireland) are worn on the left arm band. 

Friday, 22 January 2016

United Nations

The United Nations (UN) flag and emblem is perhaps one of the most famous and well known flags in the modern world, and is seen as a symbol of international cooperation and the strive for world peace. However from a Vexillology view I don't think its actually good flag for a worldwide international organization in fact it isn't really much better than a seal/shield on a bed sheet design commonly found in municipal flags, rather than an international flag of a form of world government. Of course it is extremely difficult to create a flag like the UN flag. Such a flag has to be relevant to all member states which currently number 193 sovereign nations plus two observers who are not members. It can't have any religious symbols, or any references to political systems. Also different regions of the world have different heraldic traditions to name only a few considerations so it is extremely difficult to make a simple flag that can be agreed to by everyone.  Hence the map of the world and olive branches which are more or less a universal symbol of peace. According to the UN website the symbolism is:
"Olive branches symbolize peace. The world map depicts the area of concern to the United Nations in achieving its main purpose, peace and security."
I decided to see if I could improve on the design a little. My first thought was to hark back to the origins of the UN and have something along the lines of the "four freedoms flag" which I had based flags on before (notably my WW2 Allied flag).
The four freedoms flag, proposed as an early UN flag
(but never had official status)
At the same time though I didn't want to completely get rid of the globe and olive symbol, Not least  because of the flags it has inspired in fiction. As I am sure every Star Trek fan is aware of, the flag of the Federation bear a clear similarity to the UN flag:
flag of the Federation from Star Trek
The flag of the pre-Federation United Earth in the Star Trek: Enterprise series also seems to be loosely based on the UN flag.  Staying with Sci-fi (sort of ) the Democratic Order of Planets (DOOP) flag from the animated comedy Futurama has a resemblance to the UN flag as does the flag of the Allied Nations in the movie Street Fighters and the video game Mercenaries. The fact that it has been mimicked so much demonstrates that the globe and olive branches has a universally recognised symbol and I don't want to abandon it completely. My first attempt was this:
I thought the current map of the world globe was way too complicated, so I simplified it to depicting the lines of longitude and latitude. Similar but not exactly the same as the globe on the flag of the Commonwealth of Nations. I also included four bars as a reference to the Four Freedoms flag. However this is to symbolise the nations and individuals who in the dark days of WW2 had the vision to establish a worldwide organisation dedicated to the peace and security of the planet, rather than the four freedoms symbolised in the original flag (which have been surpassed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights). I also though of using a darker blue but decided against it as not only is it as recognisable as the globe emblem but is directly influenced the shades of blue used on national flags, such as Somalia. While I was happy with the symbols and symbolism I wasn't happy with how the flag looked. I tried a handful of variations (none of which I liked) until I decided to simplify again and came up with this:

I centralised the stripes, and symbolized the globe to a blue oval (Earth is the blue planet after all). However I was still unhappy with it, not because of the design itself but because it didn't resemble the laurel and globe of the actual UN flag. I could of course put this inside the blue circle, but it didn't seem right to me, to put a globe inside another globe. However I remembered the International Earth flag proposed by Oskar Pernefeldt:
Flag of Planet Earth proposed by Oskar Pernefeldt
He used a seven rings to make a flower (symbol of life) the fact that the rings are linked (like the Olympic flag) symbolises how everything is linked, however they could also symbolise the Unity of the nations of world. I decided to adopt this "Earth symbol" into my UN flag:
I think this works well, it keeps in the design a similar looking emblem to the current UN one, and it doesn't compromise on the symbolism of the globe or bars. The inclusion of the "Earth" symbol could even symbolise the hope for a future united Earth.
What I also like about this flag is that you can modify it for UN organisations but unlike the current flags of UN organisations keep the main symbolism of the globe and bars. For example the flag of the United Nations Assembly could look like:
Likewise the flag of the World Health Organisation could be this:
Just two examples of the variations that could be achieved. Unlike the current UN flag, this flag will also be easily recognizable when there is no wind.  

Friday, 15 January 2016

Development & History of Irish Flags Pt16: Military flags of 20th & 21st Centuries Post2 RoI

Defence Forces colours on parade
Continuing on from Part 8Part 13and Part 14 and post 1 we look at military flags of the modern era. post will focus on the development of the colours and flags of the Irish regiments of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of the Irish Defence Forces of the Republic of Ireland. The 20th Century was one of the most important and bloody in Irish History, the effects and feelings still very much felt today. Post 2 will look at the flags used by the military of the Republic of Ireland known as the Defence Forces. 

Defence Forces of the Republic of Ireland

The Defence Forces Cap Badge

The cap badge of the Irish Defence Forces is worn by all branches and on all uniforms. It is the oldest symbol of the organisation. It was originally designed Professor Eoin MacNeil for the Irish Volunteer Force and adopted in 1914 by the IVF. 
It consists of the letters "FF" inside an ancient warriors belt surrounded by sunburst and placed on a star. The "FF" stands for Fianna Fáil which loosely translates to warriors of destiny. The word Fianna coming from the celtic warrior tribe of ancient Irish mythology. It predates the political party Fianna Fáil which was founded in 1926. The wording on the belt "Óglaigh na h-Éireann" means soldiers of Ireland. The sunburst being a symbol of the Victorian Fenians and adopted by the IVF as seen in Part 12. The star has no official symbolism and is merely decorative. Upon independence the Free State army many of whom had been in the IVF adopted this as their cap badge, and it has been used ever since. 

Early flags

Railway Protection, Repair & Maintenance Corps flag of 1923,
the first recorded flag of the Irish Defence Forces
Unlike the Irish Volunteer Force whom the Defence Forces claim they originate, the Irish army was slow at adopting military colours of any description, which is contrary to the IVF who were quick to establish a committee and lay down a standard design of unit colours, perhaps recognizing that symbolism for them was as important a weapon as a firearm. In fact only one unit appears to have adopted a flag during the Civil War (at which time the army was more than 50,000 strong) seems to have been the Railway Protection, Repair and Maintenance Corps. This was the first of a handful of flags, which lacking official colours and standard regulation in regard to them, army units adopted themselves and it tells. This flag was blue poplin with a gilt fringe and blank on one side. On the other a shamrock was in each corner, and a gold army badge with green lettering was in the centre, around which was the unit's name (in English) in couched metal thread. Although it could be argued that their were more pressing issues in the Civil War, these didn't exist in the peace between it and the Emergency that corresponded with second continental war in Europe in the 1940s. Infact a lot of attention was made on a couple of occasions to restyling the uniform, badges and insignias of the Permanent Defence Force as it was then called. But despite this very little attention was paid to flags or colours. 

The forgotten flags

In 1931 arrangements do appear to have been made to issue battalion colours, and at least three flags were made, however they were never issued to any battalion. 
The three flags in question were locked away in storage until they were rediscovered in 1954, and issued as the colours of the 1st, 2nd and 4th Brigades. These flags were of an extremely elaborate uniformed pattern. They were blue flags with gold fringe and rope. Across the of the field in green, gold and light blue was a Celtic decoration, This form of pattern being seen as something uniquely Irish in the 1930s, despite the fact that Ireland was not the only Celtic nation. In the same style of pattern a triangular pattern possibly representing a spear head was placed in the middle. The tip overlay the pattern at the top, and stretched towards the corners towards the bottom. Near the top of this "spear head" was the badge of the Defence Forces. Below the badge each flag had a different piece of embroidered artwork depict historic Irish battles, possibly alluding to the military establishment trying to link themselves to the warriors of the past despite having no real organisational linage to them, possibly to give the military more legitimacy or to inspire it's soldiers or both. 
Example of the rather over the top flags made in 1931,
but not issued until 1954!
The first flag depicted Hugh O'Neil Earl of Tyrone fighting Palesman Segrave at the battle of Clontibret 1595, complete with red hand. Above this was the Gaelic inscription "Lamh dearg abu" (Up the red hand). Below was the inscription "Cluain Tiobrad 1595" (Clontibret 1595) The second flag depicted an Irish warrior taking the raven flag of the Vikings at the battle of Clontarf in 1014, an event which may not have even happened. Above was the inscription "Badh sonairt ar n-airle" (let our will be firm) and below " Cluain Tarbh 1014" (Clontarf 1014). The final flag depicted an event from the 1691 siege of Athlone, In which a Jacobite soldier; Sgt Custume  led a small handful of men to defend the bridge into the city. Above is the inscription "Conoirg uathath fri sochaide" (the few prevailing over many) and below "Atha Luain" (Athlone). 
These flags are magnificent pieces of art in their own right, however they are not the stuff of military colours, and are more reminiscent of an indoor tapestry rather than an outdoor flag. Set aside the fact that they are hugely complicated they bear no identifying marks or insignia for the unit they belong to. 

Corps & Pennants

Corps flags

Since the end of the Civil War the Defence Forces have had a tradition of colour coding flashes and insignia from rank insignia to unit flashes. Many of the services had formalised service colours (colour here is literal and not referring to a flag) and badges that were worn on uniform collars. Many individual units used their own unofficial insignia. In 1942 the services were rebranded "corps" and in 1944 the Adjunct General confirmed all badges and insignia brought into use during and before the Emergency (WW2).  Each corps adopted its own unofficial non ceremonial flag, this consisted of the corps badge on the appropriate coloured field. The corps flags are as follows:
The Infantry Corps has a purple field with the corps insignia in the centre which consist of two crossed rifles below which is the word "infantry" in Gaelic:

The Ordnance Corps consists of a crimson flag, with a purple shield bearing the corps insignia which is an ancient shield, flanked by weapons such as spears, axes and cannons.

The Cavalry Corps flag is a black flag with gold border. In the centre is the corps badge, which is a rather badass looking breastplate on top of a crossed sword and rifle, behind which is what appears to be a round shield, flanked by a wreath, with the corps name in Gaelic.

The Engineers Corps flag is a  yellow flag with the corps badge in the centre, which is a crescent shape at the bottom with the corps name in Gaelic, Out of this a theodolite is protruding. 

The Communications and Information Services Corps (formally the Corps of Signals) use a blue flag with the corps insignia, which features an angel supporting a shield bearing an atom. 

The Artillery Corps flag is orange with a white boarder. The corps badge in the centre. The Corp badge which is clearly inspired by the Royal Artillery Badge of the British Army, features a cannon and gunnery equipment, upon which the personification of Erin is seated with her harp. Below is a scroll bearing the corps name in Gaelic. 

The Medical Corps flag is a teal coloured flag with a white boarder. In the centre is the corps badge is a crest of a yellow hand (similar to that on the Royal College of Surgeons coat of arms) flanked by two Rods of Ascleplus. Above which is the Army's title "Óglaigh na h-Éireann" and below the corps' name in Gaelic.

Company Pennants

Flag of the 2nd Infantry Battalion (disbanded)
2nd (Eastern) Brigade 
The Defence Forces never issued colours for battalion sized units but many unofficial unit colours were adopted and used, although recently the military command has clamped down on such flags. These unofficial flags came in all shapes and sizes, some had the unit shoulder patch in the centre, others had the corps insignia with the unit number above, some even displayed the brigade shield.
 Company sized units do carry pennants. These are official flags that must conform to a standard pattern that hasn't changed since the Emergency. These flags don't really have any ceremonial or symbolic significance, but they are consecrated. These flags are similar to the Company Colours already mentioned in post 1. They are also amongst other things carried by the right hand person in the front rank for forming up purposes. They are carried over the shoulder on a 1.98m half pike made of ash. The standard design is the almost the same as the corps flags mentioned above, in that the insignia and field colour are the same. However the battalion number is embroidered above and the company letter/number below the corps insignia. The shape of the pennant itself is also dependant on the corps. Infantry pennants are a triangle shape, Artillery are a bugree shape and cavalry use a swallow tailed pennant. 
Cavalry, infantry, artillery and engineers company pennants on parade in Cork on St Patrick's Day

Defence Forces Training Units

the colours of the training units for officers
& enlisted ranks 
In 1954 a colour probably for pass out parades was authorised for the Cadet School, responsibil for the training of officers. This was a blue flag bearing a golden sunburst and an officer's sword pointing upwards towards the motto "the road ahead of me" in Gaelic which is a quotation from the 1916 Easter rebel Patrick Pearse. 
This would eventually be followed by the Defence Forces Training Centre, who's rather plain flag is also blue, with the cap badge in the canton. In the centre is the centre's insignia of a red shield with a gold oak leaf, below which is the unit's name in Gaelic. 

Service & Brigade Colours

In 1964 a decision was eventually taken to establish a uniformed set of six colours, one for each of the brigades (the Defence Forces had six brigades compared to the current strength of two). The designs were drawn up and the first was ready by Easter 1966. These flags can be used both in a colour party with the national flag and independently.  Two Brigades each were assigned to the Southern, Eastern and Western Commands, and the flags featured the colours of the command on the field which was divided either vertically or per bend diagonally. The Southern Command (1st & 3rd Brigades) are coloured blue and yellow. The Eastern Command (2nd & 6th Brigades) are blue and green, and the Western command (4th & 5th Brigades) were blue and white. These were not coincidently the colours used on the provincial flags which each command mainly covered. The defence forces cap badge is in the canton and the brigade number is in the lower fly. A heraldic insignia unique to the brigade occupies the centre of the flag.  

Southern Command

Examples of Brigade colours
from each 1964 Command
  • 1st Brigade - the field is divided per bend/diagonally, yellow above blue. The centrepiece is a stylised bow of a ship encircled by an antique crown the colour of which is counter changed with yellow and blue. This image is a combination of symbols from the arms of Munster and the city of Cork.
  • 3rd Brigade - the field is divided the same way as the 1st Brigade but with blue above yellow. The central image is a white tower encircled by a crown with the colours counterchanged like the 1st Brigade flag. A green flag flies from the tower and a crossed rifle and spear overlie the rest of the device.

Eastern Command

  • 2nd Brigade - the field is divided vertically in the centre between green and blue. The centerpiece depicts a rising sun with a flaming tower and Irish harp superimposed on it. The sun is the sunburst symbol of various earlier Republican groups including the Fenians and Irish Volunteer Force. Tower is from the arms of Dublin City and the harp no doubt represents Leinster. 
  • 6th Brigade - The field same as above but with the blue and green the other way around. The centre device depicting a white cross in a red circle (the symbol of the Catholic Confederation of the 1640s) combined with the representation of a pike head. The intention to show military symbols of the Kilkenny - Wexford - Waterford area. 

Western Command

  • 4th Brigade - the field divided vertically down the centre, blue and white. The centre piece shows a symbol of a black eagle, partly dimidated so that the left side depicts a hand holding a dagger. The eagle is holding a furze branch in it's talon. A representation of a broken bridge in red is on the eagle's breast. The eagle/dagger hand are the arms of the province of Connacht. The bridge is that from the Battle of Athlone in 1691 and the furze symbolising the Irish midlands. 
  • 5th Brigade- The field divided as the 4th Brigade but with the colours reversed. The centre badge also depicts the Connacht eagle superimposed with a combination of white crosslets (from the arms of the O'Donnells) the Furze branch is omitted. 
Revisions in Defence strategy and the overall strength and structure of the Defence Forces have led to a reduction to three Brigades and then two (the Western command being disbanded in 2012 for finance reasons) meant that many of the colours have been laid up, however the 1st and 2nd Brigade colours are still in use by the army. 

Naval Service & Air Corps

Irish military and state vessels had flown the tricolour as their national ensign since the creation of the state. A small marine arm was successfully used in the civil war, although it was disbanded after (under the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty the Royal Navy policed Irish waters and maintained a base at Cork until the new constitution of 1937, and in 1938 fisheries protection was carried out by vessels of the Department of Agriculture & Fisheries) although a "Marine Service" was established in WW2 which laid the foundations for a permanent Navy. The Naval Service succeed the Marine Service in 1946 immediately adopting the national flag as the naval ensign. It's ships are given the abbreviation 'LE' for Long Eireannach (Irish Vessel) before their names.  In 1947 the historic green harp flag was adopted as the Navy Jack. This is a secondary flag flown at the bow of a ship (the jackstaff) and used to represent the nation alongside the ensign. It is flown when the vessel is at anchor, moored, alongside or underway when "dressed." Why the green harp flag was adopted over others I am unsure, perhaps because it's arguably seen as Ireland's second national flag or perhaps it's history or both. A masthead pennant was also introduced. This is a long white flag with a blue field in the hoist bearing a harp. It is used whenever a vessel is in commission (most of its life with the Defence Forces) and may have also been used by the Marine Service in 1939. 

In 1996 the Naval Service was issued with a ceremonial colour for use by honor guards at commemorative and ceremonial events like state visits.  This is a double sided flag. The colour on both sides is navy blue with a gold border, the obverse bears the Defence Forces badge superimposed over two crossed anchors. The reverse features the state harp in a rope circle below which is the name Naval Service in Gaelic.
The Air Corps was also given a a ceremonial flag. This composed of red and yellow diagonal stripes with the emblem of the corps in the centre, In the canton is the Defence Forces badge in the lower fly is the aircraft roundel.
colours of the Naval Service and Air Corps
Strictly speaking aircraft roundels probably shouldn't appear in this series, but they are the flags of the air and I feel deserve a brief mention. The Irish Air Corps have used a variety of roundels and markings over the years to identify their aircraft. The earliest ex-RAF aeroplanes were simply painted with the new national tricolour flag. In 1923 a standard roundle of the national colours had been adopted. This consisted of an orange dot, sounded by white and green rings. 
 This roundle was short lived and had been replaced by 1923, possibly not surprisingly because of its similarity to the roundel used on British military aircraft. The new markings consisted of green, white and orange stripes across the wings and on the rudder. By the outbreak of war in 1939 though a rather Korean Karma looking "Celtic Boss" insignia of green and orange was placed on the aircraft fuselage and on the tops of the wings (the stripes continued to be used below the wings), often in the centre of a white square on camouflage painted aircraft (Ireland used some makes of aeroplane used by the RAF and clearly didn't want misidentification) It was also decided to adopt a modern fin flash rather than just painting the rudder (although this still happened on some aircraft) this was still stripes of the national colours. In 1954 white was added to the "Celtic boss" so that it included the national colours, and a celtic trillium or airplane propeller depending on your viewpoint. This was adopted on both sides on the wings and the fuselage. A modern fin flash was also adopted, this was still stripes of green, white and orange however the size was often smaller and the proportions adjusted to better reflect the national flag.

The 2nd Cavalry Squadron (The Blue Hussars)

The 2nd Cavalry Squadron forms the Irish Presidential escort, also known as the Escort of Honor. The tradition of the escort goes back to 1931 when horse mounted soldiers were organised into a special state escort for VIPs. They were known as the Blue Hussars due to the style and colour of their ceremonial uniforms. In 1949 Cavalry Corps motor cyclists replaced the colourful mounted soldiers however the nickname stuck and certain references to the original Blue Hussars are reflected in the uniform and in the colour of some of the motorbikes of the 2nd Cavalry Squadron. All the bikes in the escort fly a flag or pennant. The officer leading the escort flies either the Presidential standard of Ireland or the relative national flag of the VIP, dignitary or visiting head of state being escorted. The escort commander and commander of the rear troop of the escort fly a burgee shaped with with the unit insignia. The rest of the escort fly black, red and green (Cavalry Corps colours) pennants from their bikes. 
2nd Cavalry escort note the corps colours of the pennants and unit insignia on the flag of the lead bike

Overseas flags

The Defence Forces occasionally send personnel overseas as part of United Nations or European Union missions, the first UN mission being sending observers to Lebanon in 1958. Traditionally a special unit is formed for overseas service consisting of personnel from all over the Defence Forces, this unit is presented with a special flag before deployment which is then laid up in Arbour Hill Church, the Defence Forces national chaple when the unit returns home. Historically these were green flags, the first had the badge of the infantry corps in a purple circle in the centre, above this was the battalion/mission number and the words "Irish Battalion" in gaelic around the central badge.
flag of the 89th Irish Battalion sent overseas
flag of the 32nd Irish battalion sent overseas with the UN or EU
Only about five or six of these flags were made before the design was changed to better reflect the Defence Forces as a whole. The design was still a green flag, but with a shield in the centre, above which was the number and below which was the words "Irish Battalion" in Gaelic. The shield consisted of seven quarters each bearing a unit insignia which were: The 1st Brigade (Spear), 2nd Brigade (bow and arrow?), 3rd Brigade (arm & dagger), Training centre (oak leaf), Naval Service (anchor), the Air Corps (winged roundel) and the Defence Forces HQ (sword). Infantry groups had the same design except the text read "Infantry Group" in Gaelic. 
Military Police and Transport companies had smaller flags similar in size to company pennants that were also green. The Military Police had three red and blue stripes diagonally in the canton. The number above the letters "PA" in red in the centre below which was the text "MP COY" on a blue tab. 
Transport companies flags were also green with two red and gold stripes running diagonally. In the centre was a winged wheel. The canton had "IRELAND" in gold lettering and the number and "TRANSPORT COMPANY" in the lower fly. The company sent as part of the international Kosovo Force was slightly different. It had the mission abbreviation "KFOR" in the canton and the text " Irish Component 1 Transport Company" in the lower fly. 
More recent missions overseas have see a slight break from green flags to purple. The Irish contingent sent as part of the United Nations Mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea had a purple flag with gold boarder. The Defence Forces cap badge was in the centre, and the Abbreviations "IRCON" in the canton and "UNMEE" in the lower fly. The Irish contingent of the United Nations Mission in East Timor had a purple flag with the infantry corps badge in the centre. In the canton was the abbreviation "IRCON" and "UNTAET" in the lower fly.