Last modified: 2022-04-09 by ian macdonald
Keywords: australia | army flag | stars: southern cross | southern cross | crown | lion | sun: rising | swords: crossed |
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The Australian Army does not have a flag. The Army is, however, the protector of the Australian National Flag.
David Cohen, 11 November 1997
I saw a letter from an Australian Army unit in an exhibition recently, and it seems the Australian Army's badge is similar to the British one, but with a royal crown above a leaping kangaroo over the crossed swords, rather than a Royal Crest. So does the Australian Army use this badge on a red field like the British Army's flag?
Roy Stilling, 12 September 1997
I had a reply this week from the Australian Army's Ceremonial and Protocol office, who says:
'The Army's badge is the General Service badge (the 'Rising Sun'), but the badge you are referring to is the Australian Army emblem (a kangaroo ensigned with the crown and backed by crossed swords). It is only used by Land Command units; however, brigades within the Command use a badge of crossed swords behind the formation's number, below which is a boomerang (bearing the word 'BRIGADE') and above, the Crown (e.g. 3rd Brigade's formation badge is the Arabic number 3 above a boomerang, backed by crossed swords, the whole ensigned with the crown).'
My enquiry also asked about Flag Stations. The Army says:
There are no special regulations for flag stations other than they are required to fly a large (3.6 x 1.8m) Australian National Flag on: Sundays, Australia Day, the anniversary of the Queen's accession to the Throne (6 Feb.), ANZAC Day, the anniversary of the Queen's coronation (2 June), official birthday of the Queen (as directed by Army HQ), the Queen Mother's birthday (4 Aug), Australian National Flag Day (3rd Sept), when an artillery salute is fired at a flag station, when directed by the Governor-General, on other occasions as ordered by Army HQ.
David Cohen, 11 November 1997
Between 28 July 1916 and 12 January 1955, the flags to be flown at military flag stations and the circumstances under which they were to be flown, were laid out in the civil law Australian Military Regulations. Because the actual flag stations were individually listed in the enclosed table they were subject to relatively frequent amendment as military barracks, forts and enclosures were established or closed down.
In the Australian Military Regulations 1916 (No 166 of 28/07/1916) the flag stations locations and provisions were shown at Regulation 224 in table form. In the Australian Military Regulations 1927 (No 149 of 14/12/1927) the flag stations locations and provisions were shown at Regulations 707 and 708, those of 708 in table form. Both were repealed from the Regulations by Australian Military Regulations (Amendment), No 7 of 12/01/1955.
The prescribed flags to be flown at flag stations were the 'Australian Ensign' (Australian National Flag). Depending upon the location of the facility, the day, the occasion and the weather, the flag was either a 12 feet by 6 feet one, or a 6 feet by 3 feet one. Regulation 707 provided for flying of the Royal Standard and the Personal Standards of members of the Royal Family if they had one, or the Union Flag if they didn't. Amendment No 45 of 28/04/1937 also allowed for flying of the Governor-General's then-new Royal Crest flag, and revised several of it's previous provisions for the various Royal flags.
Jeff Thomson, 14 July 2021
image located by Jeff Thomson, 6 March 2022
In December 2021 the Army created a new Army Aviation Command and they have a
flag. It is about 2:3 proportion, a sky-blue over dark blue horizontal bicolour
with a red kangaroo 'in flight' (as per the RAAF roundel). The kangaroo is
almost wholly in the sky-blue half with only the arms and legs intruding into
the dark blue. It faces the fly, and due to the length of the red tail it
appears that the whole kangaroo is displaced towards the fly. A clear photograph
can be seen at
Jeff Thomson, 6 March 2022
image by Miles Li, 25 April 2017
Here is the current version of the Australia's Chief of Army Flag. It
replaces the old Chief of General Staff flag featuring the British
lion-and-crown crest (see below). Note the badge on the new
flag - the Army "rising sun" and the crossed swords - is the badge of
the Chief of Army.
Miles Li, 7 October 2005
The RAAF Manual of Ceremonial, AAP 5135.002, which is downloadable at this Air Cadet Corps site, states that this flag is a car flag only.
Joe McMillan, 22 November 2003
I believe it is also flown in front of the Department of Defence in
Miles Li, 22 November 2003
The Chief of Army flag comes in two sizes: 90cm by 180cm and 15cm by
23cm as a car flag.
(Source: Australian Army Ceremonial Manual, Volume 1, Annex E to Chapter 22, available as a PDF file.)
Miles Li, 6 November 2007
Use of this flag was approved by Defence Instruction (General) ADMIN 12-1 Amendment List 20 dated 24 August 2001. The emblem is the 1991 (seventh) pattern Rising Sun badge and swords in gold; the flag dimensions are 900 mm by 1800 mm. The car-flag dimensions are 150 mm by 230 mm.
Jeff Thomson, 4 September 2017
According to Malcolm Farrow's Colours of the Fleet [frr94],
“Chief of the General Staff (Australia). Authorised 1/10/1992.David Prothero, 1 October 2005
In 1992 the defacing badge of CGS(Australia) was changed from the traditional British Army crown and lion device in favour of the Australian Army General Service badge.”
This information does not agree with that supplied by the Australian Army in
2011. No significance has so far been found for the 1 October 1992 date, in
terms of the Chief of the General Staff appointees or the flag. It may relate to
the addition of the Rising Sun badge to other Army flags, but this is only
Jeff Thomson, 15 July 2017
image by Miles Li, crest by Martin Grieve, 25 April 2017
The Chief of Army (formerly Chief of General Staff) flag is the Australian National Flag
with the Royal Crest (crowned lion standing on crown) in full colours at the
centre of the lower half of the flag.
Miles Li, 27 February 2002
The illustration above was drawn according to Flags of All Nations
[hms58], which specified it as a car flag, 6 inches by 9 inches in
size. However a full-sized version in proportions of 1:2 was also
known to have existed. Also, the crest in this illustration has the "King's
Crown", therefore it depicts the way the flag appeared before
Miles Li, 10 November 2007
Note that the above image shows the earlier car-flag version with imperial crowns. These changed to St Edward's crowns with Queen Elizabeth's reign. The Royal Crest design was approved at an Australian Military Board meeting on 10 May 1946, and the flags were included in the Australian Military Regulations and Orders (AMR&Os) from 27 February 1947. The personal flag was six feet by three feet and the car-flag was nine inches by six inches. The prescription was for the 'Chief of the General Staff - Flag, Blue Ensign of the Commonwealth with Royal Crest in gold embroidered on both sides'. When the flag provisions of the AMR&Os were cancelled in January 1955, a temporary authorisation AHQ A55 / 1 / 82 (A5) was made on 10 February 1955 and continued until the flags were included in the Manual of Ceremonial 1958. This manual appears to have been taken as sufficient authorisation for these and other Army flags for many years thereafter.
The final approval for use of the Royal Crest flag was by Defence Instruction (General) ADMIN 12-1 Amendment List 14 dated 22 May 1990. The emblem was the Royal Crest in gold; the flag dimensions were 900 mm by 1800 mm. The car-flag dimensions were 150 mm by 230 mm. The last CGS was Lieutenant General John Sanderson with his term ending on 18 February 1997. He was appointed as the first Chief of Army on 19 February 1997, and this flag continued in use as a Chief of Army's personal flag for another four and a half years until replaced by the flag with the Rising Sun and swords badge on 24 August 2001.
Jeff Thomson, 15 October 2015
The flag of the Chief of Australian Imperial Military Force (WWII) was the Australian National
Flag with the army 'Rising Sun' in gold at the centre of the lower half of the
flag. (source: recent Flag Society of Australia meeting in Sydney )
Miles Li, 27 February 2002
On 19 November 1941 in a military ceremony at the Sydney Cenotaph, General Sir Thomas Blamey was presented with a personal flag by representatives of the RSL (now the Returned & Services League of Australia). This was most likely a Commonwealth Blue Ensign with the May 1904 (third) pattern Rising Sun badge (without swords) embroidered in gold on both sides. The flag was sent to General Blamey's headquarters in the Middle East and later returned with him to Australia where it was flown at his headquarters from 5 July 1942. This or a similar flag was ceremonially lowered for the last time by Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Dwyer at General Blamey's retirement dinner on 30 November 1945, at the Engineer-in-Chief's mess in Melbourne.
There was a car-flag version of this flag, prescribed in several wartime Orders (GROs) from 1942. The final version of the Orders that dealt with car-flags (GRO A 391 / 1944) was cancelled no later than February 1947. The flag prescription was 'General Officer Commanding-in-Chief - Commonwealth Blue Ensign, with badge of Australian Military Forces in gold on both sides'. The flag measured nine inches by six inches.
Jeff Thomson, 15 October 2015
image by Joe McMillan, 12 Feb 2005 | 4:5
image by Joe McMillan, 12 Feb 2005 |
Earlier today (March 10) a ceremony was held in Canberra to mark to centenary of the Australian army. The colours, guidons and banners of every unit of the Army took part - the first time since the Queen's silver jubilee almost 25 years ago. The highlight of the day was the presentation of a banner to the Army by the Governor-General. The banner is scarlet, with gold fringes, cords and tassels. The obverse of the banner bears the coat-of-arms of Australia. The reverse bears the 'rising sun' badge of the Australian Army, flanked by several battle honours commemorating every major conflict the Army has involved in for the last 100 years (example: World War I). This was the first time a ceremonial banner truly representive of the Army as a whole was presented to the Army.
Miles Li, 10 March 2001
I would guess that it's just a one-off ceremonial item, not intended to replace any of the forces' flags, or the tri-service flag.
David Cohen, 10 March 2001
This flag is officially simply called the Army Banner, and several photos of it (obverse only, showing the coat-of-arms, not the
reverse with the 'rising sun' badge) can be found in the photo gallery of
the official Australian Army website
Miles Li, 7 May 2001
The flag is obviously in the standard British colour size of 36 x 45 inches, crimson with the Australian arms in color on the obverse and the dates "1901-2001" in gold in the upper hoist. The reverse shows the army badge--a sunburst behind a red disk bearing the royal crown--and seven campaign honors on small gold-edged scrolls: South Africa, World War I, World War II, Korea, Malaya-Borneo, South Vietnam, and Peacekeeping. The flag is trimmed with gold fringe, has gold and crimson cords and tassels, and is mounted on a pike with the usual British royal crest finial.
Joe McMillan, 12 Feb 2005
Extracts from wartime Army books of GRO's (whatever they are). One shows GRO A680/1943 and the other GRO A391/1944. Both list the approved Army flags of the time. Some were also listed in the civil law Australian Military Regulations 1927 but those flag provisions were effectively suspended 'for the duration'. They were repealed in February 1947, A391/1944 was cancelled at the same time, and Army authorisations were then controlled by the Australian Military Regulations and Orders (AMR&O's). These were a similar 'shadow-set' of Army-controlled laws that did not need the cumbersome and slow involvement of the Attorney-General's Department to get anything altered. After 1955 the flags were even removed from the AMR&Os and their authorisations were then handled through various obscure and publicly-inaccessible administrative methods to this day.
A.391. FLYING OF FLAGS ON MOTOR CARS.
1. Flags, as indicated hereunder, are authorized to be flown on motor cars in which the officers mentioned are present :-
General Officer Commanding-in-Chief - Commonwealth Blue Ensign, with badge of Australian Military Forces in gold on both sides.
Principal Staff Officers of Allied Land Forces Headquarters - Flag, distinguishing, Headquarters Land Forces (upper half red, lower half blue).
Major General, Royal Artillery - Flag, distinguishing, Headquarters Land Forces (upper half red, lower half blue) with embroidered gold gun.
Engineer-in-Chief - Flag, distinguishing, Headquarters Land Forces (upper half red, lower half blue) with embroidered gold grenade (with nine flames).
Signal Officer-in-Chief - Flag, distinguishing, Headquarters Land Forces (upper half red, lower half blue) with embroidered gold crossed flags.
Other General Officers of Allied Land Forces Headquarters - Flag, distinguishing, Headquarters Land Forces (upper half red, lower half blue).
General Officer Commanding an Army - Flag, distinguishing, Headquarters of an Army (red, black, red).
General Officer Commanding a Corps - Flag, distinguishing, Headquarters of an Army (red, white, red).
Commander, Northern Territory Forces and Western Command - Flag, distinguishing, division (red, swallow-tail).
Commander, L of C Area - Flag, distinguishing, L of C area (white, blue, red and green triangles).
General Officer Commanding a Division - Flag, distinguishing, division (red, swallow-tail).
Commandant, Royal Military College of Australia - Flag, upper half red and lower half blue, bearing on its centre in gold the badge of the Corps of Staff Cadets.
Brigade Commander - Flag, distinguishing, brigade (triangular blue pendant).
Brigadier, Royal Artillery - Triangular pendant (red, black, red, with embroidered black gun).
Commander, Corps Royal Artillery - Triangular pendant (red, white, red, with embroidered black gun).
Commander, Royal Artillery - Triangular pendant (red, with embroidered black gun).
Corps Commander, Volunteer Defence Corps - Triangular pendant (blue, with VDC colour patch).
2. The size of all flags to be flown on motor cars shall be 9 inches by 6 inches.
Also, I looked through the Wikipedia List of Australian Army Corps for any flags. Those that are shown are;
Royal Australian Engineers
Royal Australian Corps of Signals
Royal Australian Corps of Transport
Royal Australian Army Medical Corps
(Former) Royal Australian Survey Corps
Some of these and the other Corps have banners, colours or flashes shown, too.
Jeff Thomson, 7 June 2019
The Times (London) has in today's edition (Saturday 24 May 2003) a photo of an Australian soldier in Iraq during a ceremony in Baghdad to mark the re-opening of the Australian diplomatic mission.
The flag on his shoulder is a very light shade of blue:
Andrę Coutanche, 24 May 2003
Several people suggested possible reasons. Christopher Southworth and Miles Li point out that it is probably deliberate, since using the blue in the union jack is normal dark blue, so it is not due to fading, and using two shades of blue would be more expensive. Ralph Kelly suggests that the lighter shade of blue is for camouflage reasons, and Christopher Southworth confirms that the lighter blue seems to be less visible against sand. However, Joe McMillan asks why, if that were the reason, do the colours in the canton have their normal shades? Al Kirsch wonders whether it may be an Air Force Ensign, with the roundel missing possibly because the patch is too small.
FOTW Discussion, 26 May 2003