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Kingdom of Italy (1848-1946) - Flags for Use at Sea

Last modified: 2020-06-13 by rob raeside
Keywords: savoy | crown | pilot | naval jack |
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Naval Flags

Recently I received an inquiry with attached images from a guy in the UK who'd inherited some old flags from his late grandfather, a WW II veteran of the Italian campaign. His question concerned four items:

(1) An Italian Naval Ensign (with crowned shield) about 15 inches square, with yellow fringe. On the hoist end are three cloth loops to fit over a staff.

(2) An Italian Naval Jack (bannner of arms of Savoy)--otherwise, same size and discription as (1).

(3) Two pennants. One is striped green-white-red with the crowned shield (crown toward the hoist) on the white stripe. The other is blue, inscribed with what looks like "2 squadriglia motosiluranti."

My guess is that the above items were used by a motor torpedo boat squadron of the Royal Italian Navy--ensign, jack, commissioning pennant and squadron pennant. The guy said that his grandfather obtained them at Taranto, which was one of the Italian Navy's major wartime bases
Tom Gregg , 5 February 2000

I find these two links to the "Sacrario delle Bandiere al Vittoriano":
www.marina.difesa.it/storia/musei/musei001.htm and www.marina.difesa.it/storia/musei/musei002.htm with some nice images of historical ensigns, such as: museo007G.jpg and museo009g.jpg. It is noteworthy that some ensigns dating from the late Kingdom of Italy era, such as this one from submarine "Ettore Fieramosca" 1929-1941: museo034g.jpg use an unspecific royal crown, rather than the Italian one.
Santiago Dotor, 27 June 2003

The Regia Marina was born on march 17th, 1861 with the merging of the Royal Sardinian Navy, the Neapolitan Army of the Sea and the Navy of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The Pontifical Navy would be added in 1871. At the date of its creation, the Regia Marina adopted the flag for all warships and merchant ships as originally set for the Royal Sardinian Navy in 1848.  
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Naval Ensign

image by Miles Li, 21 May 2004

The national flag/civil ensign had the Savoy arms, uncrowned, while the naval ensign (Bandiera da Guerra) had crowned arms.
James L. Woods and Tom Gregg ,15 January 1998

Here is a source about the Royal Ensign and if you want included measurments. it is from Annuario 1972 dell'Enciclopedia dei Ragazzi Ed.Arnoldo Mondadori Editore. The naval pennant is there also .
Bozeni Manuel, 18 October 2000

At "Nouveau Petit Larousse Illustre" (1926), the Italian flag appears to be with the shield of red with a white cross, a blue border around them, and above the shield a golden crown.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg, 29 October 2000

It is similar to the present ensign but with the shield and crown of Savoy in the centre.  A white rectangular cross, on a blue bordered, red shield.  This was below a red and yellow crown.
David Prothero, 26 December 2001

There are some mistakes in Željko Heimer's image . The naval flag has a green that is too light, and the shape of the crown is wrong. The Italian royal crown had its shape, you can see Here.
Guido Abate, 6 December 2002

Simplified Version

image by Jorge Candeias , 29 October 1999

Another episode on the "Old flag plate" series. This italian flag is only interesting due to the Coat of Arms. It's probably a simplification of the Coat of Arms in actual use, since it lacks the blue border. it has, however a curious shape and I wander if this shape could reflect real flags. Finally the crown: it's practically not worth mentionning, because it seems to be simply outlined in the original.
Jorge Candeias , 29 October 1999


Civil Ensign

image by Miles Li, 3 December 2004

This is also the national flag.
Miles Li, 29 November 2004


Naval Jack

image by Željko Heimer, 1 March 2010

Instituted by Royal Decree dated April 22nd, 1879 and hoisted  at the bowsprit of every ship at anchor. It was used at sea only if the ship was full dressed.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

This 1879 - 1947 jack of Italy - Flaggenbuch (1939) shows the jack as having proportions of 5:6 (40 x 48 units) and the cross at 1/8 the flag (5 units wide) with the border (whilst not defined) as being shown as being the same width as the cross.
Christopher Southworth, 22 February 2010

In  'Flagmaster', the magazine of the British Flag Institute, in an article on Italian flags, superbly illustrated by Roberto Breschi, is the original form of the naval jack in use from 1879 - 1893. This is essentially the same as the 1893 - 1946 version we show, that is a banner of the arms of Savoy, but it is square in format with a border and cross about one-fifth the flag.
Christopher Southworth, 28 October 2011


Pilot Flags

Pilot Service

image by Miles Li, 23 May 2020

Instituted by Royal Decree dated September 20th, 1882 and flown at the foremast by craft belonging to the Pilot Service.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Flag to Call the Pilot (Warship)

image by Miles Li, 3 December 2004

Pilot flag from the National Geographic 1917 depictions (NGM) and the Webster's New International Dictionary (WNID), circa 1924 plates.  The difference: the NGM image shows the arm of the cross slightly higher than in WNID.
Phil Nelson , 3 January 2000

The pilot flag is wrong: it was simply a reduced state flag with a white border. When I say "reduced" I mean that the flag had the same proportions (same shield, crown, etc.), but it was smaller.
Guido Abate, 6 December 2002

Instituted by Royal Decree dated September 20th, 1882 and flown at the Foremast by warships requiring a pilot.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Flag to Call the Pilot (Merchant Ship)

image by Miles Li, 21 May 2020

Instituted by Royal Decree dated September 20th, 1882 and flown at the Foremast by merchant ship requiring a pilot.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Auxiliary Ship

image by Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Instituted with a general order dated August 2nd, 1908 and flown at the foremast of all auxiliary ships belonging to the Regia Marina.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Ship of the Royal Finance Guard

image by Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Instituted with a general order dated August 27th 1926 and flown at the foremast of all ships belonging to the Royal Finance Guard (similar, but not like the Coast Guard)
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Lightships Service

image by Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Instituted with a general order dated February 27th 1913 and flown from the foremast of all ships belonging to the service.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Postal Ship

image by Miles Li, 23 May 2020

Instituted by Royal Decree dated July 2nd, 1891 and flown from the foremast of all ships carrying Mail.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Pleasure Boats (Racing)

image by Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net

Instituted with a general order dated August 21st, 1926 and flown from the foremast of all racing craft belonging to the Regia Marina.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Hospital Ship

image by Miles Li, 23 May 2020

Instituted by Royal Decree dated September 20th, 1882 and flown at the foremast as a sign of neutrality by Hospital Ships.
Ernesto Vitetti from www.regiamarina.net


Masthead Pennant

image by Miles Li, 23 May 2020


UFE

I have an Italian flag with the Arms of Savoy on the middle white stripe. It has a yellow crown over the Arms with a red anchor and red accent devices on each side of the anchor.  Could you tell me the years this was in use and by what special branch of government if any?  Any other detail you can give me on the flag would be appriciated.
Truman Pope (Secretary NAVA), 5 September 2000


Flags According to Steenbergen Book (1862)

image by Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

No. 1137 - Italy - Merchantmen.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

image by Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

No. 1142 - Italy - Merchantmen.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

image by Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

No. 1143 - Italy - Merchantmen.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

image by Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

No. 1144 - Italy, Navy and War.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

image by Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003

No. 1150 - Italy, Navy - Broad Pennant.
Source: [stb62]
Jaume Ollé, 7 November 2003