Last modified: 2002-05-18 by jarig bakker
Keywords: south africa | red ensign | blue ensign |
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You might be interested to know, that I discovered a picture of South
Africa's first flag (1910- 1928). It was a red ensign (a red flag with
the Union Jack in the upper left corner) and it had a crest on the fly
with four quarterings of each of the former provinces on it - Cape, Natal,
Transvaal and Orange Free State.
James Alcock, 8 Oct 1999
The governing authority in the British Empire for flags flown at sea
was the British Admiralty. On 28 Dec 1910, Admiralty warrants were issued
for two South African ensigns, the Blue and the Red. They were bith to
be charge on the fly with the quartered shield of the CoA.
The Blue Ensignb was, in accordance with general British practice, to be flown by Government vessels (not warships of which South Africa had none anyway at the time), and the Red Ensign by South African merchant vessels.
The Blue Ensign version was rarely seen in South Africa as South Africa had few such government owned vessels at that time. There is evidence that it was used on occasion on overseas offices of the Union until the new South African flag came into use in 1928.
The Red Ensign was for use at sea as the merchant fleet ensign. This version of the South African Red Ensign continued in use in the merchant navy until 1951 when it was finally displaced at sea by the South African national flag in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act of that year.
Both ensigns were changed slightly in 1912, once again by Admiralty warrant, when the shield of the coat of arms was placed on a white roundel.
The Red Ensign was, at times, also used as the national flag ashore, although it was the Union Jack that officially enjoyed this status.
These flags never enjoyed much support and were regarded more as necessary conveniences than as symbols of the still non-existing national unity. They were largely ignored by both segments of the white population and rarely flown in public. The Red Ensign's most prominent moment was probably when General Louis Botha, former Commandant-General of the ZAR forces, now Prime Minister of the Union and Commander-in-Chief of the Union forces, hoisted it over Windhoek, after
capturing that town from the Germans in 1915. The South African troops fighting in East Africa, the Middle East and in the trenches in France during the First World War, did so under the Union Jack.
Source: "Sovereign flags of Southern Africa", A. P. Burgers, 1997:
Jarig Bakker, 11 May 2002