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Colony of Aden (Yemen)

Last modified: 2021-08-25 by ian macdonald
Keywords: aden | union jack | badge | dhow | governor |
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[Colony of Aden]
image by Jaume Ollé

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Description and use of the flag

The above flag was used as the flag of Aden until 18 January 1963 when the colony was renamed State of Aden and incorporated in the Federation of South Arabia (against the wishes of the Aden government which was accordingly suppressed in 1965).
I.O. Evans [eva66], states that Aden's former flag continued to be used after 1963 on the island of Perim and the Kuria Muria islands.
Vincent Morley, 11 February 1997

Aden was both a Crown Colony, merely the port and its immediate hinterland, and a Protectorate, the rest of what became South Yemen.
Aden was actually first a dependency and later a Chief Commissioner's Province of British India up until 1937.
From 1937 Aden Colony used a badge very like Zanzibar's, an Arab dhow sailing on a sea. The principal differences were the lack of a crown, the dhow being a two-master (Zanzibar's was single) and the "sea" being stylised blue and white wavy lines, whereas Zanzibar's badge had a more natural seascape. Interestingly the Aden dhow is flying an old Omani flag, red with a white stripe at the hoist!
Roy Stilling, 5 December 1997

A little curiosity for the philatelists; a flag derived from a postage stamp.
On 1st April 1937 the status of Aden was changed from a Settlement within the Indian Empire to Crown Colony. The Chief Commissioner for Aden had flown the "Viceroy's Union", but the Governor who replaced him needed a new badge for his Union Jack and the Blue Ensign. He wrote to the Colonial Office that it might feature, "a two-masted dhow, of the type that had been built in Aden for 2000 years. Sails white, hull white with green lines, brown hills in the background, deep blue sea", and suggested that it might be similar to the postage stamp just issued.
The badge was prepared by George Kruger-Gray of the Royal Mint, who wrote that the hills had been omitted as, "an entirely naturalistic treatment of the dhow is out of the question. We already have far too many of these dreadful naturalistic badges."-
He depicted the sea heraldically, with blue and white wavy lines, and added what appears to be a Trucial Oman flag at the stern of the dhow, but otherwise the badge is very similar to the Aden postage stamp issued in 1937.
Source: Original correspondence, Public Record Office, Kew, West London. Reference number CO 323/1377/8
David Prothero, 26 June 2000

I looked at a document on the Aden badge in which the significance of the flag at the stern of the dhow had been queried. The Governor, Sir Bernard Reilly replied,
"Flag at stern, red with white border near the flag staff is that generally flown by dhows belonging to ports on the South Arabian Coast. It approximates to the flag of Muscat which is a plain red one, and the white border near the flag staff may have been added to strengthen it."
23 February 1937.
Source: Original correspondence, Public Record Office, Kew, West London. Reference number CO 323/1468/8.
Another document entitled Aden Port Trust clarifies the use of the flag shown in Flag Books as being that of Local Indian Maritime Governments; clumsy and not particularly informative. The Port Trust applied to fly the Blue Ensign with the badge of Aden in the fly, "having previously flown the flag of the Commerce Department of the Government of India, a Blue Ensign defaced with lion and crown."
Source: Original correspondence, Public Record Office, Kew, West London. Reference number CO 323/1575/11.
David Prothero, 28 June 2000

Red Ensign

[Colony of Aden]
image by Martin Grieve, 04 November 2006

Forgive me my ignorance regarding the numerous red ensigns, but what kind of flag was this? [defunct]--
Marcus E.V. Schmöger, 01 November 2006

The badge looks like that of Aden, but I have only ever seen it on a standard Blue Ensign and never on a Red as shown here? If I remember rightly Aden ceased to be a crown colony sometime about 1964, but of course I may be completely mistaken about this flag?
Christopher Southworth, 01 November 2006

Without having a closer look, it looks like Aden Colony.
Robert Czernkowski, 01 November 2006

It's an Aden red ensign all right, and not the first one I have seen.
Clay Moss, 02 November 2006

Although this is most certainly "unofficial", it would appear that these flags did indeed exist - my only doubt here is when? There is nothing to stop the flag enthusiast placing a special order to a flag manufacturer years after the flag ceased to exist, and thus introducing an incorrect flag into circulation. If of course, in Aden Protectorate at the time the blue *official* Ensign was flown, the red Ensign was also flown, then this raises another question-by whom?Merchantmen, Yacht clubs? This does not appear in David Prothero's list of red Ensigns.
Martin Grieve
, 04 November 2006

I have now actually seen 4 Aden red ensigns.  We have had this discussion before, but just for fun, I will briefly go back over the whole unofficial British red ensign thing. I am persuaded that the British colonial practice of placing colonial badges on red ensigns for private use was at least somewhat common. There are too many of them floating around for this not to be the case.
Although the practice might have been technically illegal, no authority was ever going to penalize a colonial merchant or resident for being "colonially" patriotic or for clarifying where his/her yacht or ship hailed from.
Clay Moss, 04 November 2006

Flag of the Governor

The governor used the same badge in the center of the Union Jack, with wreath around the badge, on a white disk.
Jaume Ollé, 9 February 1997