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British Union of Fascists

Last modified: 2002-07-27 by rob raeside
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The flags of the British Union of Fascists were discussed by Lucien Philippe in an article in Flagmaster years ago (Lucien Philippe: "Movements of the extreme right in the United Kingdom and some Commonwealth countries. Part 1," Flagmaster, No. 44, 1984).

Philippe's article is accompanied by illustrations of two flags.

1. British Union of Fascists, 1932 to 1935

[British Union of Fascists] by Jan Oskar Engene

The British Union of Fascists (BUF) was founded on 1 October 1932 simply by a name change. Mosley, the party's leader, had founded the New Party on 1 May 1932 and this party changed name to British Union of Fascists in late 1932. BUF's emblem was the one used by Italian fascists and by other fascist movements, the fasces. In the flag, according to Philippe, the fasces was white placed over a blue disk on a red field. Judging by a photograph in Ernst Nolte: Der Faschismus. Von Mussolini zu Hitler. Texte, Bilder und Dokumente (Munich: Verlag Kurt Desch, 1968, p 201), showing Mosley with the flag at BUF London HQ, there are some darker elements to the fasces emblem. Maybe this particular flag had some silver elements, but I am now guessing.
Jan Oskar Engene, 18 April 2002

2. British Union of Fascists and National Socialists, 1935 to 1940

[British Union of Fascists] by Jan Oskar Engene

In 1935 another name change occurred, the party's name now being British Union of Fascists and National Socialists. Along with the name change also appeared a new emblem, the lightening flash, and a new flag sporting the emblem and the flag colours of the United Kingdom. Again according to Philippe, the flash was white, set on a blue disk edged in white. All this appeared in the centre of a red field. This flag was used until the party was dissolved in 1940, but the flash emblem reappeared after the war as the symbol of another of Mosley's parties.

Jan Oskar Engene, 18 April 2002 

Discussion about the flag of the British Union of Fascists

I'm fairly certain that it was a black lightning-flash on a white circle on a red field (like the Nazi flag). They wore black shirts, like the Italian fascisti, and were generally more influenced by Fascist Italy than by Nazi Germany.
Vincent Morley, 8 May 1999

The flag used a black device within a white circle on a red ground, same proportions as that of Germany 1935-45. There was a TV programme Thursday 2 November, 2000, ITV 10 pm Britain at War IN COLOUR which showed a BUF march with Sir Oswald Mosley leading, in the early months of the war - he was later detained/arrested/interned 'for the duration' (I think). The 'device' if I remember it was like a black circle but split into 2, with diameters
Michael Hutchings, 5 November 2000

According to "Los Fascismos Desconocidos 1919-1945" [Unknown Fascisms], Carlos Caballero, Editorial Huguin 1984, Barcelona, the British Union of Fascists used two symbols. From its foundation in October 1932 up to 1935, a fasces. In 1935 the movement is renamed "British Union of Fascists and National Socialists" and the fasces is replaced by a bolt of lightning (similar to a Sieg rune) within a circle. There is a photograph of Sir Oswald Mosley reviewing a troop of Blackshirts but only a group of Union Flags are visible.
Santiago Dotor, 6 July 1999

This one is quite known from the SS "logo", where it shows doubled. Did the book refer to the colors of those flags? Was the second flag red with black symbol (on white disc) or the other way around?
António Martins, 7 July 1999

There is no mentions of colours at all. In the picture where Sir Oswald Mosley is reviewing the troop he is wearing a black (well the picture is b&w so it could be red! - but I am assuming black from the fact they wore black shirts) German-officer-like cap with a small, clear metal, vertical fasces on it. But that does obviously not imply the earlier flag was black with a white/grey vertical fasces...

Volume 1 (or is it 2?) of "Uniforms, Organisation and History of the Foreign Legions of the Third Reich" from Roger James Bender, which I do not have, includes a chapter on the "Britisches Freikorps der SS". Though not very much related, it may happen that there is information on the BUF there. I do have volumes 3 and 4 and most countries treated include rich information on local Fascist and/or Nationalsocialist prewar and wartime organisations.
Santiago Dotor, 8 July 1999

The lightning device was actually blue in keeping with the national red/white/ blue of the union flag. There is a representation of the BUF device on
Neil Spall, 17 April 2002

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