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United Kingdom - Royal Engineers

Last modified: 2002-06-21 by rob raeside
Keywords: engineers | royal engineers | lightning |
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Badge of Royal Engineers Blue Ensign

[Royal Engineers]

by David Prothero

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I am looking for information on a flag that is rectangular, dark blue with a Union Jack in the canton. There is a hand and forearm coming vertically out of a crown-shaped castle battlement. The hand is holding, at a 45 degree angle, what appears to be a tube (cannon?) with flames coming out of both ends. The tube seems to have a pair of wings (bird, angel) attached at the midpoint, where the hand is holding it. There are six lightning-shaped arrows pointing out from around the centre of the drawing.

Bobbi Rosen, 27 February 2002

The tube with flames coming out of both ends is unusual, but in other respects the flag corresponds to the Blue Ensign of the Royal Engineers. It was introduced in 1871 when the Royal Engineers' Submarine Mining Service was formed at Chatham. They installed, maintained and operated underwater defences in the approaches to dockyard ports. The ensign of the the 48th Submarine Mining Company of the Royal Canadian Engineers, who were responsible for the Seaward Defence of Victoria and Esquimalt Harbour, is preserved in Esquimalt.

Submarine Mining was taken over by the Admiralty in 1904, but the War Office retained the ensign and it continued to be used by the Royal Engineers' Inland Water Transport Organisation. I think it was still used in 1945 by those army vessels not operated by the Royal Army Service Corps. Until 1996 it was flown at the Royal Engineers Diving Training Wing at Portsmouth.

The badge is supposed to be derived from the crest of the arms of the Board of Ordnance, but the wings may be an addition to the original crest.

David Prothero, 3 March 2002

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