East of Suez

British India
East India Company

1707 - 1801
     Honourable East India Company ensign. A copy made from a design supplied by Sir William Foster ca.1911. The ensign is made of wool bunting, machine sewn with a linen hoist. A rope and wooden toggle is attached. The rectangular ensign has a modern-pattern Union Flag in the canton, the field is divided into nine horizontal stripes - five red and four white.
The company was one of the driving forces behind the development of the British Empire, and its flag was probably the inspiration for the United States's flag.
The East India Company flag changed over time. From the period of 1600 to 1707 (Act of Union between England and Scotland) the flag consisted of a St George's cross in the canton and a number of alternating Red and White stripes. After 1707 the canton contained the original Union Flag consisting of a combined St George's cross and a St Andrew's cross. After the Act of Union 1800, that joined Ireland into the United Kingdom, the canton of the East India Company's flag was altered accordingly to include the new Union Flag with the additional St Patrick's cross. There has been much debate and discussion regarding the number of stripes on the flag and the order of the stripes. Historical documents and paintings show many variations from 9 to 13 stripes, with some images showing the top stripe being red and others showing the top stripe being white.

It has been suggested that the stripes were inspired by the flag of the Majapahit Empire, whose flags may still have flown across the Spice Islands in the Company's early days.

At the time of the American Revolution the East India Company flag would have been identical to the Grand Union Flag. The flag probably inspired the Stars and Stripes (as argued by Sir Charles Fawcett in 1937). Comparisons between the Stars and Stripes and the Company's flag from historical records present some convincing arguments. The John Company flag dates back to the 1600s whereas the United States adopted the Stars and Stripes in 1777.

The stripes and gridlike appearance of the flag gave rise to several pieces of imperial slang. Most notably is the phrase 'riding the gridiron'; this referred to travelling on a ship flying the company flag to/from India.

Raj blue ensign

109 x 52 inches
  • Ensign of Indian Marine 1879 to 1891.
  • Ensign of Royal Indian Marine 1891 to 11 November 1928.
  • Jack of Royal Indian Marine 1 November 1928 to 1934.
  • Jack of Royal Indian Navy 1934 to 1947.
Between 1928 and independence in 1947, the Royal Indian Marine was allowed to fly the White Ensign of the Royal Navy (i.e. British White Ensign). The former Ensign was retained, but was then flown, when appropriate, as a Jack at the bow. In 1934 the Royal Indian Marine was re-named the Royal Indian Navy.
The Star of India and is a combination of a sun and a star and a garter (I think that's the correct term). The centre is a five-pointed star, one point at 12 o'clock, with lines from the centre to each point and from the centre to the indentation between each point, thus giving the star a three-dimensional appearance. Around the star is a circular band, tied at the bottom with a small tidy knot that projects only a little beyond the circumference of the band. The points of the star overlap the inner edge of the band by about one third of its width, and on the band is written in upper case letters with a dot at half height between each word, 'HEAVENS LIGHT OUR GUIDE', starting at the 7 o'clock point of the star and finishing at the 5 o'clock point. Projecting beyond the band are 16 slightly wavy sun's rays, alternating with 16 slightly smaller wavy rays. The proportions are:

centre to a point of the star 8.5 units
band 5 units
long ray 10 units
short ray 8 units.
total radius 22 units (the star overlaps the band)
Some versions have 26+26 rays with a greater difference between the length of the long and short rays so that the short rays have in total, a more circular outline with the long rays appearing to project out from the circumference of a circle. The rays and the star are yellow (gold?), and the band and background to the star is pale blue (silver?). On the star there's a certain amount of irregular shading which tends to be concentrated to the left of the lines running from the centre to the points and to the right of the lines running from the centre to the indentations. David Prothero
Personal flag- roughly six feet in length and originally "from a military museum."

     The ensign of the Royal Indian Marine made of wool bunting with a cotton hoist, machine sewn at the ends and the sides are the selvedges of the fabric. A cord is attached for hoisting. The design is entirely printed onto the surface of the fabric. The flag has a blue field with a Union Flag in the canton. In the fly is a badge with a star surrounded by a band inscribed 'HEAVENS LIGHT OUR GUIDE' within the sun's rays. The design was warranted by the Admiralty to the Indian Marine in 1877. It was used as an ensign until 1928. From 1928-47 it was used as a jack.

Merchant ensign

6 feet by 4 feet

 35 1/2 inches wide and 23 inches high. The "Annin" manufacturer's label is on the side.

 3’x5’ Cotton

52" x 26"
The flag measures approx. 22 1/2" inches from the top down x 34 3/4" inches across.

Viceroy's flag
Lord Wavell's Viceroy's Standard
Made for me by Artelina of Brisbane
The Union Flag defaced in the centre with the badge surmounted by a crown, no white disc, no garland:

  • Viceroy and Governor General afloat in Indian Waters c1885 to 1947. Hoisted at main masthead.
  • Hoisted at the foremasthead it indicated the presence of a subordinate Governor, Lieutenant- Governor, Chief Commissioner or Political Officer.
  • Also hoisted at the fore by Political Resident Persian Gulf, or subordinate Political Officer within the limits of his jurisdiction, or on duty elsewhere.

British-Indian hockey players arrive in Holland for the 1928 Olympic games.

Indian flag being hoisted during the Berlin 1936 Olympics and from a screen shot from Olympia 1 Teil - Fest der Völker

Left: Star of India from vintage red ensign
Right: This photo is of an actual Star of India badge as used on flags. I was given this badge by Robin Ashburner (Flagmakers in Swansea, Wales) who makes historical flags and uses this badge for the colonial Indian flag.

Indian Marine
On April 21, 1884, the Admiralty Warrant authorised blue bordered Union Jack as the Jack of H.M. Indian Marine. At the same time a Warrant, replacing the letter of 2nd July 1879, confirmed the Blue Ensign defaced with the Star of India as the ensign of the Marine.

Ensign of Local Naval Vessels  (Local Maritime Government Ensign) 1884-1904
The ensign of local naval vessels is a usual defaced blue ensign. The badge is a golden lion rampant guardant holding in front paws a crown. Željko Heimer
In 1880 a Blue Ensign defaced with the badge of the Port Trust of Bombay was sanctioned by the Admiralty. It was followed in 1883 by one for the Port Trust of Calcutta. At the suggestion of Rear Admiral Sir John Hext, the Government of India requested that these ensigns should be withdrawn, and proposed that there should be a general maritime ensign for Indian port or harbour authorities. The Admiralty issued a warrant, dated 9th April 1884, authorising "the Blue Ensign of Her Majesty's Fleet with the Lion Rampant Guardant holding a Crown (the crest of the Honourable East India Company) in the fly thereof. To distinguish vessels of any particular department, a triangular flag or pennant will be flown in bows, with the name inscribed thereon of the department to which vessel belongs or duty on which employed."
CUSTOMS in white letters on blue.
WATER POLICE in blue letters on white.
MEDICAL in black letters on yellow.
"Vessels of private bodies are to wear the Red Ensign with such distinguishing triangular flags as they decide upon."
These were:
PILOT in red letters on white.
PORT TRUST in white letters on red.

Royal Indian Army Service Corps
The flag was perhaps introduced in about 1942 ? Added to the 1930 edition of the Admiralty Flag Book on 20 February 1945; plate 22c. The image here has been made from a description of the ensign, so the size and style of the swords, and the size of the Star of India may not be accurate. It was noted on 22 December 1948 that the flag no longer existed. David Prothero

Indian Princely States

"... a mounted trooper and a scimitar and the word BARODA in white on a rectangular field of red ochre with a white margin .." 


: "...a crimson shield bearing an eagle in gold and in the first canton a crimson lion on a gold field supported by bulls with crest a galley: below the motto, [translates as], 'Man Proposes, God Disposes'.."


"...a green shield bearing two galleys and a tower in white supported by angels, a portcullis as crest with helm and mantling ..." 


"... three bezants and three mountains in green and above the words JUNAGADH STATE BADGE in red in a white circle ..."


"... a shield in gold bearing an oval badge charged with the sun, crescent moon and stars and the words MORVI STATE, with sword and lance on either side above supported by tigers and surmounted by a crown, below the motto, [translates as], 'Valour With Forgiveness' ..."


"... a shield bearing three fish above and a galley, supported by antelopes with crest a lion: below the motto, [translates as], 'Victory Be To Shrijam' ..."


"... a figure of Hanuman flying and having in his hand a club and a mountain ..."


"... a right hand in green ..."

"... a conch shell in white surmounted by a crest in gold adorned by a cloth in blue ..."


USN flag flown by military ships entering the harbour at the British Colony of Aden manufactured by the Valley Forge Flag Co. in the USA. Size: 5 feet x 10 feet, made of cotton with the Union flag appliquéd and the Aden Dhow screenprinted.
The above flag was used as the flag of Aden until 18 January 1963 when the colony was renamed State of Aden and incorporated in the Federation of South Arabia (against the wishes of the Aden government which was accordingly suppressed in 1965). I.O. Evans states that Aden's former flag continued to be used after 1963 on the island of Perim and the Kuria Muria islands. Vincent Morley
Aden was both a Crown Colony, merely the port and its immediate hinterland, and a Protectorate, the rest of what became South Yemen. Aden was actually first a dependency and later a Chief Commissioner's Province of British India up until 1937. From 1937 Aden Colony used a badge very like Zanzibar's, an Arab dhow sailing on a sea. The principal differences were the lack of a crown, the dhow being a two-master (Zanzibar's was single) and the "sea" being stylised blue and white wavy lines, whereas Zanzibar's badge had a more natural seascape. Interestingly the Aden dhow is flying an old Omani flag, red with a white stripe at the hoist! Roy Stilling
A little curiosity for the philatelists; a flag derived from a postage stamp:On 1st April 1937 the status of Aden was changed from a Settlement within the Indian Empire to Crown Colony. The Chief Commissioner for Aden had flown the "Viceroy's Union", but the Governor who replaced him needed a new badge for his Union Jack and the Blue Ensign. He wrote to the Colonial Office that it might feature, "a two-masted dhow, of the type that had been built in Aden for 2000 years. Sails white, hull white with green lines, brown hills in the background, deep blue sea", and suggested that it might be similar to the postage stamp just issued.

The badge was prepared by George Kruger-Gray of the Royal Mint, who wrote that the hills had been omitted as, "an entirely naturalistic treatment of the dhow is out of the question. We already have far too many of these dreadful naturalistic badges." He depicted the sea heraldically, with blue and white wavy lines, and added what appears to be a Trucial Oman flag at the stern of the dhow, but otherwise the badge is very similar to the Aden postage stamp issued in 1937.

I looked at a document on the Aden badge in which the significance of the flag at the stern of the dhow had been queried. The Governor, Sir Bernard Reilly replied, "Flag at stern, red with white border near the flag staff is that generally flown by dhows belonging to ports on the South Arabian Coast. It approximates to the flag of Muscat which is a plain red one, and the white border near the flag staff may have been added to strengthen it." Another document entitled Aden Port Trust clarifies the use of the flag shown in Flag Books as being that of Local Indian Maritime Governments; clumsy and not particularly informative. The Port Trust applied to fly the Blue Ensign with the badge of Aden in the fly, "having previously flown the flag of the Commerce Department of the Government of India, a Blue Ensign defaced with lion and crown."
David Prothero
Governor of Aden
Image provided by Mr. Clay Moss
The badge was used in the fly of the Blue Ensign flown by government owned or chartered vessels from c1875 to 1948. David Prothero

The round shaped badge depicts a brown elephant facing hoist on green ground in front of a pinkish Buddhist temple on a dark blue background. The badge has a yellow-fimbriated red ring bearing 16 yellow four pointed stars and 16 yellow small balls. Nozomi Kariyasu

Ceylon Governor's Flag
The badge was used surrounded by a garland in the centre of the Union Jack flown from the masthead by the governor when afloat from c1875 to 1948, and additionally, from Government House (sunrise to sunset) from 1941 to 1948. David Prothero

Colonial police flag
image by António Martins
The Colonial Police in Ceylon used a Blue Ensign, plain except for the word POLICE in white letters in the fly. It was unauthorised and its use was discontinued in about 1930.Glen Hodgins

I’m not certain whether if Mauritian blue ensigns were ever defaced without a disk. I have never seen an actual sample. I do know that the disk was used right up ’till 1968 and have seen samples and photos.   Clay Moss, 04 Jul 2005
An actual sample:

Governor 1906-1968

Palestine and Transjordan
During the period of British rule, the Union Flag or Union Jack of the United Kingdom was the de facto British Mandate flag, but several localised flags existed for Mandate government departments and government officials. The only Palestine-specific flag not restricted to official government use was the Palestine ensign which was flown by ships registered in the British Mandate territory during the period 1927–1948. It was based on the British Red Ensign (civil ensign) instead of the Blue Ensign (used as the basis for the flags of nearly all other British territories in Africa and Asia), since it was only intended for use at sea.
Here is a unique photo of the Palestine red ensign together with the Zionist flag from cgate.co.il> showing the sailboat "Bat Galim" of Zevulun Sailing Club of Tel-Aviv as it returns from Cyprus in 1943.

A picture of a "Hashomer" society flag being given to Hashomer volunteers serving in the 40th (Eretz Israel) battalion Royal Fusiliers of the Jewish Legion, 1918. "Hashomer" ("The Watchman") was a self-defense movement founded by Jewish settlers in Palestine in 1909 and outlawed by the Ottoman Turkish authorities during the First World War. The banner here depicts the British Union Jack (reflecting the Legion's British auspcies), and beneath it the Hebrew word for "Hashomer" surmounted above and below by the legend "In Blood and Fire Judea Fell" and "In Blood and Fire Judea Will Rise".

The Jewish Legion of the First World War consisted of three battalions: one from British volunteers (the 38th Royal Fusiliers), another of North American volunteers (the 39th) and a third one of volunteers from Eretz Israel-Palestine (the 40th). Seen here is Dr. Chaim Weizman, the head of the British Admiralty laboratories, a leading Zionist figure instrumental in the drafting of the Balfour Declaration (1917) and future first President of Israel presenting the colors of the 40th Battalion to its members, 1918. The picture is not clear, but it looks like a triangular standard with a lion within a Star of David; the British Union Jack on the top right and a Hebrew legend just above the Star, which is not clear. A frequent legend in Legion regalia is "In Blood and Fire Judea Fell, In Blood and Fire Judea Will Rise", although the few clear letters in this picture suggest that the slogan may be different.
Two Zionist activists, Joseph Trumpeldor and Vladimir (Ze'ev) Jabotinsky, were influential in the creation of all-Jewish combat units of the British Army in the First World War. Both directly enabled the foundation of the Zion Mule Corps in 1915, which served in Gallipoli, and Jabotinsky in particular led the drive for the creation of Jewish battalions in the British Army. These battalions - the 38th, 39th and 40th Royal Fusiliers - are collectively known as the Jewish Legion. In this picture, Jabotinsky with crossed armed is seated in the second row, just above the right corner of the flag. The flag here is of the 16th platoon of the London Battalion, in training, which would shortly become part of the 38th Royal Fusiliers; it incorporates the Jewish Star of David surmounting the British Union Jack - a constant symbol of this era's British-affiliated Jewish armed formations.

First Judean Battalion

Another view of the flag of the "First Judean Battalion", this time during a veterans' march in 1943. During the Second World War the veterans movement as a whole was actively involved in promoting Jewish volunteerism from Eretz Israel in the war effort, and this picture was taken during one such support march. After the Jewish Legion was disbanded in 1919 after World War I, it was succeeded by another all-Jewish Eretz-Israel formation called the "First Judean Battalion". It existed from 1919 to 1921 and included former Legion members, particularly from the Eretz-Israel 40th battalion. Seen in this photo of a prayer ceremony is the Battalion's colours: a British Union Jack on the top right corner and a blue Star of David in the centre, on a white background.

Palestine Police Force Port and Marine Section 

image by Martin Grieve
Port and Marine Section Blue Ensign was described as having the same badge as the flag. I have not seen any references to it in Admiralty or Colonial Office records and suspect that it was an unauthorised ensign. All that I know about it is from two passages in "A Job Well Done" by Edward Horne:
"The Port and Marine Section of the Palestine Police was formed in July 1935. For the period of the Second World War it came under the control of the Senior Naval Officer at Haifa, its personnel became members of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, and its launches flew the White Ensign. One launch was moved inland by rail. The first, last, and only time that the White Ensign has ever flown on the Sea of Galilee."
"Eventually orders came to re-adopt orthodox police uniforms once more and the section severed its connections with the Royal Navy, with whom they had been proud to work. There was some sadness when the White Ensign was hauled down and the blue ensign with the P.P. motif reappeared at the stern of each launch."
David Prothero
image by Željko Heimer and António Martins
The flag can be seen on the right beside the Royal Flag as Lord John Gort addresses an assembly of officials as newly appointed High Commissioner of Palestine and Transjordan in Jerusalem, October 31, 1944.
In 1932 the Palestine High Commissioner applied to the Colonial Office for a distinguishing flag. He made some journeys by launch, but had no defaced Union Flag of the type normally used to identify a vessel in which a commissioner was travelling. He did not consider that the badge used on the ensigns was suitable, and suggested a badge similar to those of the High Commissioners of the Western Pacific and South Africa. These badges had an imperial crown and appropriate initials, on a white disc surrounded by a garland of green leaves.

The Colonial Office agreed that the badge on the ensigns was, "repellent", and were considering the adoption of a badge that had a crown in the centre with 'PALESTINE' above and 'H.C.' below, when it was decided that the Foreign Office would probably not agree to a badge which featured a crown. The status of the administration of a mandated territory was not entirely clear, and some were of the opinion that in Palestine the Colonial Office were agents of the League of Nations, and that the use of a royal crown was not appropriate. It was proposed instead that a simplified version of the design that had been used for the Public Seal, should be used as a flag badge. (...) The badge based on the Seal was [strongly opposed by the Jewish Agency] and abandoned and on 17th July 1935 the High Commissioner selected a badge, similar to that of the Western Pacific High Commissioner, that had been considered in 1932. The design of the crown is unusual, but is perhaps a simplified version of the standard Imperial Crown with the normally domed arches flattened to make more space within the white circle for the lettering.

The difficulty of fitting the crown and lettering into the available space may explain the version of the badge that appeared on the flag of the High Commissioner when his departure from Palestine was filmed in 1948.

On the morning of May 14 1948, another page was turned in the history of the Holy Land. Joining its predecessors - Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders and Turks - the Union Jack is lowered by a Royal Marine, signifying the end of British rule in Palestine and of 30 years of gallant endeavour to bring peace and plenty to the Holy land. Disaster has been the result.

1903 to 1961
by Jaume Ollé
From the Toronto Globe and Mail (transcribed from a newspaper clipping; some parts missing):
"Torontonian Designs Flag for Seychelles"
A new flag badge for the Seychelles Islands has been designed by Mrs. Alec McEwen of Toronto. A few days ago she received word from London that the design had been approved by the Queen and that the Admiralty has agreed to its use in the fly of the blue ensign.
A former commercial artist entered a poster contest and the governor was delighted with her sketch. So one of the first of new Seychelles Islands flags will come to another British colony halfway around the world, to its designer. Colourful both in design and content, it closely resembles the ...
...its pale yellow oval border inset with green fish on a blue background. It still carries the giant land tortoise, a gentle, lumbering creature centuries older than people in the islands; and a brown and green coco-de-mer tree from which the largest fruit in the world, big double coconuts, are harvested. The fruit, which Mrs. McEwen describes as a translucent jelly, is served at Government House smothered in crème de menthe. In the background is a pale mauve island top and a red fishing boat with snowy sails. The insignia is indicative of main industries on the agricultural islands - coconuts and copra, cinnamon and fish and vanilla. submitted by Ann Janicki, daughter of Mrs. McEwen
British Indian Ocean Territory
Current flag

Right image from Graham Bartram's British Flags & Emblems, page 12
Strictly speaking this is just the flag of the commissioner, the lone British official who keeps up the pretence that the British Indian Ocean Territory is anything other than an American base. Because the flag is rather unlike the usual British colonial pattern, it would not surprise me if it's an unofficial local creation that has since been ratified (it was formally adopted in 1990), especially as it's for use on land only.

1990 flag
Flag as it was used in 1990. The difference between this flag and the current one is the colour of the crown. This version of the BIOT flag can be seen being used in a video from Diego Garcia, A BIOT stamp from 1990, in a set of phone cards issued by the local phone company in the BIOT, a "real" BIOT flag, and the CIA Factbook before 2003.

Left: Phone card issued from April 17 1999 until March 1, 2002.
From the CIA Factbook 2002

British East Asia

     The ensign of the Burma RNVR. - a blue ensign with a badge in the fly depicting a blue and green peacock on a yellow background. This design was in use between 1939-1948. The flag is made in machine-sewn cotton and the whole design is printed including the Union Flag. The fabric has been weighted and the a turned over edge forms the hoist. A rope for hoisting is attached. After Burma separated from India in 1937, a branch of the RNVR was formed in Rangoon on 7 June 1940. Its members operated smaller landing craft and motor launches in the estuaries round Rangoon and elsewhere in the Far East. 

 The Last Imperial Flag to Fly Over Burma

 Removed from Burma on the day of Independence, Jan 4th 1948, by the Governor Sir Hubert Race. He removed this flag from Governor’s House before leaving on HMS Birmingham, down the Yangon River.  This flag was the last flag to fly over Burma after the official large state flag was brought down. Its original Royal Navy OHMS Birmingham stowage label accompanies the flag. 66cm x 42.5cm

Rangoon Port Commissioner

British Straits Settlement and Singapore (1874-1942)

Singapore was under British rule in the 19th century, having been amalgamated into the Straits Settlements together with Malacca and Penang. The flag that was used to represent the Settlements was a British Blue Ensign containing three gold crowns—one for each settlement—separated by a red inverted pall, which resembles an inverted Y. The Settlement of Singapore had no separate flag, although the city was granted a coat of arms which featured a lion in 1911.
To be precise, the flag of Straits Settlements, established 1826, was the Union Flag. The "three crowns on a lozenge" badge that was used on the Union Flag of the Governor when afloat, and the Blue Ensign of government vessels appeared on a printed sheet of colonial badges, produced by the Admiralty, that was being circulated in 1874. However a drawing in the Colonial Office Record Book shows a Blue Ensign with one gold crown in the lower fly. It is dated 1877 and has the note, "Governor informed that above badge should not have been changed without authorisation and must still be considered the badge of the colony."

I am not sure but it is likely that each of the three original settlements had its own seal and that there was therefore no obvious badge to represent the whole colony. The Colonial Office seem to have assumed that a crown would be used as the badge until a suitable one had been selected and approved, but that the governor went ahead and devised a badge without approval. The same problem arose in West African Settlements, but in that case the seal of one settlement, was adopted as the badge for the combined settlements.

The badge appeared in an official document in 1874, was modified in 1904 when the Tudor crowns replaced the Victorian style crowns, and discontinued in 1942. David Prothero
Governor's Flag
Crown Colony of Singapore 1946-1959 (Singapore)

 From the Richard Willis collection
From Herman Felani's site at: http://www.geocities.com/inescutcheon/FlagsMilitary.HTML:
The Naval Flags of the Pre-Independence Naval Forces, 1819 – 1965

The Royal NavyThe Naval Jack (leftmost) of the Royal Navy is the Union Jack (the proper term to be used when the British Royal Union Flag is used in such a manner). The Jack is generally restricted to be flown while the vessel is in port. As a naval jack, it takes the proportion of 1:2. The Union Flag when flown from the mast is the Rank Flag of the Admiral of the Fleet but in the proportions of 2:3.
The famous White Ensign (rightmost) has a white field with the red St George's cross throughout. The British Union Flag makes up the canton. This naval ensign besides being flown by the Royal Navy was also flown by colonial navies of the British Empire in later periods. The White Ensign is also flown ashore, at the establishments of the Royal Navy, such as HM Naval Bases.
The White Masthead Pennant (top-rear) of the Royal Navy is triangular and white with the St George's cross in the hoist. The British blue masthead pennant is similar to the white masthead pennant, in that the red St George's cross on white remains at the hoist, but the rest of the pennant is blue.

The Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1934 1947
- Colony of the Straits Settlements Blue Ensign (1934 - 1940)
- UK Royal Navy White Ensign (for World War Two: 1940 - 1942)
Masthead Pennant:
the Blue Masthead Pennant

* The shape of the Jack used seemed to have alternated between square and rectangular. The leftmost of the four naval flags above is the square version of the jack, as was seen on a photograph of one of the vessels of the RNVR, HMS Peningat. The vessel was also wearing the White Ensign in the same photograph (by Admiralty's wartime instructions). Vessels of the RNVR are at other times to wear their own colonial blue ensign, as the ensign at the stern and as the jack at the bow.

The Malayan Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 1948 – 1963 Ensigns:
- Colony of Singapore Blue Ensign (1948 - 1952)
- ** UK Royal Navy White Ensign (1952 - 1963)
Masthead Pennant:
the Blue Masthead Pennant

* The Jack shown above is the square variant, although rectangular variants have been documented. The Queen's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions of 1956 required that all RNVR vessels of the British Empire were to specifically wear square Naval Jacks.
** Issues with regards to the use of white or blue ensigns by the colonial naval reserves in the British Empire arose after the war. It was settled that the White Ensign was to be flown by the colonial naval reserves after 1952. The Hong Kong RNVR and Mauritius RNVR flew it as well.
Colonial Singapore: The Royal Air Force
The RAF ensign is light blue, featured the Union Flag in the canton and the RAF roundel in the centre-fly (as opposed to lower-fly on the RSAF service flag). The RAF roundel is a circle concentrically divided into three comprising of blue-white-red (outermost to innermost). The RAF ensign is in the proportions of 1:2, like the Union Flag itself. The term "Ensign" while mostly associated with the maritime flags (State-Civil-Naval Ensigns) can also be used to refer to flags in general as can be observed here. Paramilitary Flags of


Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps


Left: Penang & Province Wellesley Volunteer Corps (P&PWVC)
Centre: Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC)
Right: Malacca Volunteer Corps (MVC)

Labuan Volunteer Defence Detachment

On 27th July of 1961, the Yang di-Pertuan Negara of Singapore, Encik Yusof Bin Ishak presented the Queen's Colour and the Regimental Colour to 1SIR. The Regimental Colour was retained after Singapore's independence in 1965 and was replaced officially 21 years later on 7th November 1982, with one of a similar design.
British North Borneo
State Flag and Ensign 1882-1948
North Borneo was a British protectorate under the sovereign North Borneo Chartered Company from 1882 to 1946. After the war it became a crown colony of Great Britain from 1946 to 1963, known in this time as British North Borneo. It is located on the northeastern end of the island of Borneo. It is now the state of Sabah, East Malaysia.
A defaced Red Ensign was necessary as the inhabitants of North Borneo were not British subjects and therefore not entitled to fly the plain Red Ensign. In the Admiralty Flag Book 1889 the lion faces the fly but is changed to face the hoist in a 1902 amendment. I think that this was probably to correct an error in the book and not a change in the design of the flag.

The 'Sabah Jack' (c1915-c1941 Governor's flag)

Flag described in Carr's Flags of the World (1956) p.97
The arms are from the crest of the Arms of the Company granted in 1894, "two arms hold flag flowing to the sinister Or charged with lion guardant Gules".
The British North Borneo Company administered British North Borneo from 1881 until its official demise (pace the Japanese occupation) in 1948. The shield on the coat of arms shows a lion above a dhow. The crest shows two human arms grasping a flag flying to the right. One of these arms appears to be that of a Caucasian and the other that of a person of darker hue. A deliberate and obvious choice, I feel. The small flag grasped by those arms was that of the Governor of British North Borneo as flown from about 1882 to about 1910. It was yellow with a red lion passant facing to the left as one looks at it.

After 1910 or so, the Governor flew the Union defaced with a yellow disc upon which was the same red lion. The disc was not surrounded by the usual garland as the Governor was appointed by the Board of Directors of the Company, rather than by the Crown. Notwithstanding this change to the gubernatorial flag, the small flag in the crest of the coat of arms remained that of the Governor pre-1910.

When the British North Borneo Company ceded control after the Second World War, the territory became a British colony. The flag of the Governor, from this point on an appointee of the Crown, changed again. The Union was now defaced not by the badge of the Company, but by the crest of the Company's coat of arms in a white disc surrounded by a garland. I have seen this flag (a scaled-down version for use upon a motor car) in the National Police Museum at Kuala Lumpur and I am pretty sure that the small flag grasped by the two arms in the crest was no longer the pre-1910 Governor's flag, but the Union Flag itself.
When British North Borneo acceded to the Malaysian Federation as the state of Sabah in 1963, the coat of arms was modified. The lion and dhow disappeared from the shield, but the two-armed crest was retained. Today, those same two arms grasp the current flag of Sabah.
Red-white-blue horizontal tricolour with crescent and sun in centre. I have used RGB 255-204-0 in portraying the sun on Labuan's flag and will do so for all Malay state flags in this project that contain the color "gold" or golden yellow. I actually stand on solid ground in doing this, as it's apparent that Malay flag manufacturers are beginning to see the wisdom in printing with the darker shade of golden yellow. The latest versions of Perlis, Penang, Perek, Sarawak, and Selangor in particular are being made up with golden yellow whether they're sewn or printed. Until recently, the colours of yellow would vary greatly with a sort of light lemon yellow being prominent along with 255-204- 0. In some cases, it was almost impossible to see the yellow on the flags of Labuan, Penang and Perek because the white in each of those flags completely absorbed the yellow. Clay Moss
British Settlement of Malacca

The arms were granted 14th August 1951, and the badge was the shield of the arms, so probably instituted just after that date. According to Nick Weekes' notes on Colonial Badges, the shield was on a white disc on the Blue Ensign, and on the Union Jack within a garland. Both probably discontinued when the Federation of Malaya became independent 31st August 1957.
Prince of Wales Island (Penang)

The arms were granted 11th September 1949, and the badge was the shield of the arms, so probably instituted just after that date. According to Nick Weekes' notes on Colonial Badges, the shield was on a white disc on the Blue Ensign, and on the Union Jack within a garland. Both probably discontinued when the Federation of Malaya became independent 31st August 1957.
Flag of the British Resident (Perak, Malaysia)

image by Jaume Ollé
As far as I know this was not an official British flag. If there was any uniformity among the flags of the British Residents of the Malay States, it should have been the forked national flag. I wonder if Jaume Ollé's image arose from a misunderstood description, in which the field of the forked national flag was combined with a canton —as the resident's flag was supposed to have had— which was described as "of the national flag", and mistakenly thought to refer to the national flag of the Resident, not the national flag of the State.
David Prothero
High Commissioner Brunei

Between c.1955 and 1984 there was a High Commissioner Brunei's flag which was the Union Flag with a badge of white circle having a crown and black letters of H.C.B. with garland.
Sarawak (Malaysia)
From the Richard Willis collection
 When Sarawak became a Crown Colony in 1946 the standard colonial flags were introduced:
* Union Flag, badge on a white disc surrounded by a laurel leaf garland. This was the flag of the Governor. The badge was a yellow shield with the same bi-coloured cross and the same style crown in the centre of the cross.
* Blue Ensign. Badge in the fly, in some cases shown as being on a white disc, though I wouldn't have thought that the disc was necessary. For government vessels.
* Merchant ships presumably flew the plain undefaced Red Ensign. Mario Fabretto
In spite of Mario Fabretto's sources, according to Gresham Carr 1961, page 116, a [white] disc was certainly used. As for Merchant ships, as Mario Fabretto's sources said, unless there was a specific Admiralty Warrant authorising a defaced Red Ensign for the colony, the undefaced ensign would be used.
In the case of the Sarawak Blue Ensign, maybe the flag was made with the white circle. However unless it is known for certain that this was so, it seems to me that a white circle is not necessary, and that it should be drawn without one. The correct size would be achieved by putting a circle, four ninths of the breadth of the ensign in the middle of the fly, making the shield as large as will go into the circle, and then removing the circle. David Prothero

Claimed by seller to represent pre-1963 red ensign

British China
Hoisting the flag that brought the idea of freedom and democracy to the Chinese at Taipo in the Kowloon Hinterland. The video is an homage to the flag that saved countless Chinese from Maoist madness and communist oppression.
I began to wonder how it was that Englishmen could do such things as they have done with the barren rock of Hong Kong within seventy or eighty years , while in 4,000 years China had achieved nothing like it
Sun Yat-Sen
Hong Kong
In 1870, a "white crown over HK" badge for the Blue Ensign flag was proposed by the Colonial Secretary. The letters "HK" were omitted and the crown became full-colour three years later. It is unclear exactly what the badge looked like during that period of time, but it was unlikely to be the "local scene". It should have been a crown of some sort, which may, or may not, have had the letters "HK" below it.
By 1955, the "local scene" badge in the Blue Ensign flag was revised. The new badge was similar to the 1876 badge, but had a slightly lower eye-line, and a more realistic mountain on the left-hand side. The mountain, the ship, and the junk were made more prominent and embossed.
An original antique flag from 1936 made of linen with measurement stamped on border – “9 feet X 4.6 feet”. Flag includes the original rope and wood toggle attachment. Stamped on the white outside border is the year- “1936”. Also stamped, the manufacturer- “Porter Brothers Ltd., Liverpool”. (This company was established in 1905 and is still in business making flags.)


74" by 35"
Massive 128" x 66"  (10 ft 6" x 5 ft 5") flag from Piggotts
 Dated 1980, double-sided stitched panel cotton flag, made by Porter Bros. in Liverpool and measuring 3 feet x 6 feet
Another Porter Bros. Ltd. flag

Flag interesting for its sewn badge, even if it doesn't look particularly official, by River Mill Flags, formally of Cambridge, England, from 100% woven and knitted polyester.

Was being sold by http://www.the-outdoor.co.uk for £399.00, 6' by 3'. Note the ensign is in 1:2 dimensions unlike those normally found in Hong Kong; this is described by the site as "Genuine Ministry of Defence Issue - Not An Import Copy !!"

Protesters waving Hong Kong colonial flags as thousands of people march in Hong Kong demanding an end to Chinese corruption, repression and censorship.
Nine out of 10 Hong Kong residents say they would rather return to British rule, according to an online poll by local newspaper, the South China Morning Post. - See more at: http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/china/20130319/77889-scmp-poll-hong-kong-wants-return-to-british-rule.html#sthash.vzcgHBrH.dpuf
Nine out of 10 Hong Kong residents say they would rather return to British rule, according to an online poll by local newspaper, the South China Morning Post. - See more at: http://www.ntd.tv/en/news/china/20130319/77889-scmp-poll-hong-kong-wants-return-to-british-rule.html#sthash.vzcgHBrH.dpuf

Hong Kong red ensign

Hong Kong was never granted a defaced Red Ensign, so the proper colours for a Hong Kong registered vessel would have been the plain Red Ensign. They could of course fly the Blue Ensign in addition to indicate their nationality, just as British vessels sometimes fly St. Andrew's flags or Red Dragons. I know that unofficial defaced ensigns were used in Hong Kong, just as they are used in the rest of the British Overseas Territories.
Defaced Red Ensigns are not granted by the Admiralty (AKA MoD) but by the Department of Trade and Industry, under the Merchant Shipping Act. They are created by an Order in Council (i.e. a Statutory Instrument) rather than a warrant.
Graham Bartram, 27 June 2001

  Personal wool flag measuring 8 ft long x 4 ft

Governor of Hong Kong

A child actually dares touch the flag on the car of Hong Kong's then-Governor, Chris Patten, as he visited the Wong Tai Sin temple in the British colony on for a ceremony seeking a blessing for the people of Hong Kong.
Original sewn flag of the Governor of British Colonial Hong Kong in very good condition.  originally released from an Hong Kong Government store, and used before 1997 in the Government House.  Size: 4 yd ( 372cm long x 181cm wide )
Reproduction bought by samuraiken from BritishHongKong forum

Hong Kong Police ensign
by Martin Grieve and Mattias Hannson
Without the white disc

Royal Air Force in Hong Kong Kai Tak Ensign

Royal Auxiliary Air Force Hong Kong Ensign
British Hong Kong Military Service Corps flag

Even more cheaply-made reproduction, with the Union Flag in the canton especially offensive

Lowering the Flag in Hong Kong...
At the Cenotaph in Hong Kong, now profaned by the Chinese who have removed the flags and replaced them with their own communist flags, representing a country whose army fled and allowed the Japanese to rape, torture and slaughter hundreds of thousands of their women, children and aged for six weeks at their own capital of Nanking.

The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

image on right contributed by David Prothero
Source: Top image - Lloyds Yacht Register, 1897
Bottom image - Lloyds Yacht Register, 1928
 Glorious example from the 1960s
At the General Meeting of the Hong Kong Corinthian Sailing Club held in October 1893 a resolution was passed that application should be made to the Admiralty for permission to call the Club "The Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club" and to fly the blue ensign with a distinctive mark on the flag. A warrant was granted by the Lords of the Admiralty on 15th May 1894.

Hong Konger Front
Proposed flag for an independent Hong Kong free from communist repression and interference.
The upper left quarter of the Hong Kong national flag bears a British national flag to indicate that the Republic of Hong Kong should be a member state of the Commonwealth.

The ducks depicted are Mandarin ducks (Aix galericulata) with the male in the foreground and the female partly obscured. These ducks were endemic to China but their population was severely threatened. They were imported to the UK and through a combination of escapes and releases, there is a thriving population in southern England.

Rare remaining ensign in town museum

Probably the only pictures showing the handover of Weihai to British rule in 1898.

Shanghai Yacht Club