Friday, 27 March 2015

Richard III

This week sees the reburial of the remains of King Richard III of England and France, Lord of Ireland  (to use the titles he had and claimed), was the last plantagenet King of England, and the last English monarch to be killed in battle (although only two English Kings have ever been killed in battle the first being Harold I at Hastings in 1066). King Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 during the Wars of the Roses. He personally charged Henry Tudor (who would become Henry VII of England) killing his standard bearer (Henry VII's standard forms the basis of the modern flag of Wales) before he fell from his horse and was killed.
His mortal remains were quickly buried at Greyfriars in Leicester, however this friary was destroyed by Henry VIII during the English Reformation, and the King's remains were lost. There was even a legeand (now disproven) that the remains thrown off a near by bridge into the River Soar. In August 2012 an archeology survey conducted by the University of Leicester, the Richard III Society and city council  in a car park found the bones of a male, who suffered from Scoliosis and various severe head wounds, under a parking space that was oddly enough marked "R.". After scientific study and research including DNA testing, it was confirmed these were the bones of Richard III.
The parking space under which Richard III was buried,
complete with a portrait and banner left by admirers
possibly Richard III Society members 
In this latest part of the King's story the first use of flags was immediately after his bones were removed from the car park. The box in which they were placed was draped in the English Royal Banner (1406-1603). Many of the team were reluctant to do this because they felt it would be inappropriate as the identity had not yet been confirmed at this stage, but did so on the insistence of the Richard III Society representatives. Fortunately the bones were confirmed as those of King Richard.
"The Return of the King" was on Sunday when the remains were transported from the University of Leicester to Leicester Cathedral via Bosworth field where he was killed, with a short ceremony at each of the three places. This unusual procession is of interest to those interested in flags and heraldry.
On leaving the University a Royal British Legion Colour Part lowered their flags as the hearse passed.
The senior member of the Royal Family at Sunday's event was HRH Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester (the same title Richard III held before becoming King)  his standard would have been used to mark his presence at the university. His flag is the Royal standard with five white labels alternating between a red cross and red lion passant:
At Bosworth field Richard's Coffin was pulled by a Army Cadets who's sponsor unit was 9th/12 Royal Lancers and as such the coffin guards carried lances with traditional red and white lance pennants.
As seen the King's coffin was not draped in his banner, but it was decorated by his livery colours. At Bosworth Field a reproduction of Richard III's battle standard fluttered in the wind:
A standard's prime purpose in modern heraldry is to mark a headquarters(I guess main postal address might be the modern equivalent lol) meaning that unlike a banner the armiger doesn't need to be there in person for it to be used. In England Standards have the national flag at the hoist, and is usually divided into two livery colours. Richard's standard should be about 7.5 metres in length. The tail is split into two rounded ends and the flag normally depicts a crest and/or other heraldic badges.
King Richard's standard bears the white rose emblem of the Royal House of York to which he belonged, and a white boar which was his own personal badge, this along with his red and blue livery would have been worn by his followers.
A religious precision in period costume preceded the coffin, They carried various flags and flag related items. These included heralds and monks carrying vexilloids of Richards arms.
The monks also carried religious flags which bore the impersonations of saints and other religious figures including Edward I the Confessor the first patron saint of England.
These were all led by the Cross of St George the national banner of England's Patron saint defaced with a fleur de lee
After being drawn by horse through the streets of  Leicester the Coffin arrived at the Cathedral, unfortunatly the coffin was no preceded by, or rapped in a royal banner. However this was done at the field:
 However elongated versions of this flag, did decorate the street furniture outside the church.
The King's Cypher of RIII was also used on crimson flags with gold lettering by the council for the event. In the cathedral the coffin was draped with a specially made coffin drape, which among other things bore Richard III's coat of arms:
The shield of this variant of the Royal Arms of England will also be visible on the King's tomb inside the Cathedral as is his badge of the bore. Both White bore and white rose badges were worn by many of those in attendance.
The flag flown over the Cathedral was the standard Church of England design, of a Cross of St George with the diocese coat of arms in the canton, and can be seen in this news clip:
I have to say that as a person interested in Vexillology I was disappointed with the lack of flags (such as draping the coffin), but appart from that it was an interesting and dignified ceremony that was well done.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Scottish armed forces uniforms

Yes I know this is a flag blog and yes I know the referendum ended with a No vote, and I accept that. However I want to experiment with uniforms since my UK football kit and a hypothetical Scottish Defence Force in an fictional independent Scotland seems like a good start, especially after I designed ceremonial and working flags for such a force before the referendum. Again this is fiction and based on units that would use the flags in the above link.

Full Dress Uniform

First of all is the ceremonial full dress uniform:
This is the traditional uniforms for ceremonial parades and public duties (like the guard at Edinburgh Castle etc). The Royal Guards Regiment uniform is unchanged from the uniform of the current Scots Guards, with bearskin cap and scarlet tunic (with the buttons grouped in threes). The uniform of the 1st Infantry Battalion features a traditional Glengarry cap, Blue Tunic with green and red facings and Government Tartan Trews. This Battalion would be successor to the Royal Scots Boarders (1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland), who themselves are descended from the Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment) and the King's Own Scottish Borderers who as Lowland regiments did not wear the Kilt, (with the exception of pipers) hence the tartan trews. 
The Uniform of the other infantry battalions are practically the same except they wear a Kilt rather than trews as they would be descendant from the Highlander regiments (the Highlands is the region of Scotland were the kilt was traditionally worn). These are based on No 1 Dress Uniform of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.
There are two forms of Full Dress Uniform for armoured regiments, as these are successors to the Cavalry and adopt cavalry traditions, as such it would fall to them to provide a mounted escort during a state visit or some other grand occasion. The mounted uniform consists of a blue cavalry tunic complete, black riding trousers and boots, and a white cross belt. I actually based this on the Blue Hussars Uniform who were the mounted escort of the Irish President, but substituted the busby with a pillar box cap. The full dress uniform for non mounted troopers is a black tunic and trews with gold facings and stripe, with a forage cap. The caps of the two squadrons are different, The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, have a red cap with the distinctive gold chavron pattern, the Armoured Corps have a green cap. The dismounted uniform is based on No 1 Dress of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
The "Army Standard" refers to the  Artillery, Medics, engineers etc who support the combat units. They all wear a similar uniform and only distinguished by cap and collar badge. This is a glengarry cap. Blue tunic with green and red facings and black trews with a red stripe. 
The Air Force Full Dress Uniform is sky blue. It features a tunic with navy collar, and trews with a gold stripe and a forage cap, the cap badge of a winged thistle, is inspired by the logo of the modern "Flying Scotsman" the morning express between Edinburgh and London. 
The Navy Uniform consists of the traditional sailor uniform worn by navies everywhere. Full dress has a white belt, gaiters and a chin strap on the cap. The Cap simply reads Scotland rather than the ship or unit name, similar to the Irish Navy cap which reads "Eire." It also has a blue Toorie. The Marine Infantry wear a similar uniform to the army but with red facing and white helmet similar to that worn by Royal Marines.
Not included in the above picture are musicians who wear their own variants of Full Dress Uniform:

The Infantry Band wear the Victorian style Uniform currently worn by the Band of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.  The Cavalry Band Uniform is also based on that of the Band of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (the regimental band not the pipe band). The Army Central Band whic is the reserve band, which provides music to the support units and others, is the same as the infantry band but wear the  blue standard army tunic. The Air Force Band wear a blue tunic with gold facings and a busby. The Pipe band wear the feather bonnet, sky blue tunic and complete highland dress which is in RAF tartan. Similar to the current pipe band of the Royal Air Force.. The Navy band are distinguished by white trousers, and marine pipers wear a black tunic and glengarry with full Highland dress in government tartan. Army Pipers are not included as each battalion has its own pipe band who with dress the same as the private soldier or dress the same as the army central band but with Royal Stewart tartan rather than government tartan

Class A (Dress) Uniform

Class A Uniform is the more modern form of dress uniform, consisting of a green/khaki for the army. It is not as traditional as Full Dress Uniform, but still formal enough to b worn at certain functions and events instead of full dress uniform. Its a cross between full dress uniform and working uniform.
  All forms of Class A uniform in the Army are pretty much the same, the only difference being the head gear and collar and cap badges. For the army either a forage cap or glengarry is worn. Military Police wear a crimson forage cap and "MP" arm band. The Royal Guard forage cap has red, white and green dicing (as does the glengarrys of the infantry), This is the same fore Marines but with a white cap (and slightly darker green). The Air Force wear a jacket rather than the tunic of Full Dress Uniform without a belt. The /navy Class A Uniform has only slight changes which are no belts, gaiters and chin strap on the cap is worn.

Class B and C (Working) Uniforms.

These are the everyday uniforms. Class B Uniform is a barracks uniform, worn when in camp by officers and senior NCOs or those employed in more administrative roles. Class C Uniform is designed to be worn outside in the nitty gritty.
Class B consists of combat trousers and boots, a shirt, tie and jumper (which is not worn in daytime in the Summer). There is also a tartan belt in the regimental tartan. Class C Uniform consists of the same but with combat shirt and/or jacket replacing the jumper, shirt and tie. And a black tactical belt replacing the tartan one. The Combat Shirts and Jackets also have a nation flag patch on the left arm and unit patch on the right. The Unit patches are (with one or two exceptions) the same as the camp flags I made, see here. The Infantry wear khaki Sham O Tanter bonnets The rest of the army wear berets, which with the exception of the military police are either khaki or black. In most cases a regimental tartan patch is worn behind the cap badge. The Armoured Units wear black overalls as their Class C uniform, they also wear black in Class B. The Air Force Class B Uniform id the same as the army but blue. The Air Force Class C consists of flight uniform. The Navy Class B Uniform is a white shirt and black trousers. Officers and senior rates wear a tie. The Navy Class C Uniform is blue overalls and no cap, and only worn by those in Engineering or seamanship roles. 
This is my first proper designs for uniforms and I would like to know what you think, so feel free to comment. Again this is hypothetical independant Scotland, Not a pro independence or political post personally I am glad Scotland is still in the family of British nations, so no political comments please. 

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Development & History of Irish flags Pt12: the Home Rule Crisis

Political flyer typical of the era
 on both sides
The Home Rule debate was the most prominent issue in Irish politics in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. Home Rule was an early form of devolution where an Irish Parliament would be established in Dublin to run domestic affairs, similar to the current Scottish Parliament. There are many reasons this was supported or opposed, many saw it as the beginning of the end of the union, so it naturally divided opinions and loyalties, often on tribal grounds. The Second Home Rule Bill passed the House of Commons in 1893 but it was defeated in the House of Lords. However following parliamentary reforms in the UK the House of Lords veto was limited to a two year delay. This meant that when the third Home Rule Bill passed parliament in 1912, it would not be implemented until 1914. This meant that over these years tension and division built up in Ireland, and by 1914 there were two rival armed militias opposing each other and threatening civil war. Naturally symbols, emblems and colours would play a part during this emotive time and none more so than flags.
Flags are naturally emotive symbols, being visual representations of a group of people, be it a country or somthing else. This makes them particularly vulnerable to being political or propaganda objects, and it was as true in 1912 as it is today. The Propaganda posters and flyers on both sides often featured prominent depictions of flags. Pro Home Rule Nationalist posters favoured the green harp flag, while anti-Home Rule Unionists championed the Union Flag. These flags became degraded from national emblems to party political symbols for the two Irish tribes. As the top right flyer points out, there are two groups and two flags.
Interestingly Unionists seem to have employed flags more in propaganda posters than nationalists as there are greater amounts of Union Jack posters. In some cases flags appear to have been made up! The below poster depicts an Ulster flag and Ireland flag for the Ulster and Irish Unionists. The Irish flag is depicted as a white cross on a green field defaced with a white shield bearing a harp and crown. The Ulster flag is a white cross with green fimbriation on a red (or possibly orange) field bearing a red hand of ulster.
As the 1912 rolled on the Unionist call for action in response to the threat as they saw it only saw an increase in Union Jacks and it was used increasingly as the flag of liberty as they saw it in radical Unionist posters:
Union Flags could be seen all over the island, particularly Ulster in response to Home Rule, many were often very elaborate. On 9th April 1912, at a demonstration in Balmoral, what was believed to be the largest Union Flag ever woven was flown from a 90ft high pole!
The Unionist mobilisation was complete when on 28th September 1912 (Ulster Day) thousands signed the Ulster Solemne League and Covenant pledging to resist Home Rule by "all means... necessary." The Unionist Leader Sir Edward Carson led a procession to Belfast City Hall to sign the Covenant, led by the Boyne Standard, and signed with a silver pen on a Union Flag draped table.
In 1913 the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was formed to resist home rule by force if necessary. In response the nationalist party formed the Irish Volunteer Force (IVF). It appears that both of these militias took their inspiration from the Volunteers Corps of the 18th Century. The IVF even said "the banner of the Volunteers is waving after its century close furled on its standard." However for both sides this was little more than flowery language and both had very little in common (particularly flags) with the original Volunteers.
In May 1914 the Provincial Committee of the IVF not only authorised the carrying of unit colours but went as far as proposing a standard uniform design, to which every unit was expected to conform to. The decision was reached that each battalion of each unit was to carry two colours, a national standard and Volunteer colour. The national standard was a green harp flag, This flag had a canton on which a local/regimental insignia was placed. Below this the battalion number in Roman numerals was placed. The harp was the gold winged maid of erin design.
The Volunteer colour was to be blue, with a representation of the rising sun, the rays of which extended over the whole field (a rather oriental looking design). A regimental or local device, appeared on a shield in the canton. The roman numeral appeared on the sun itself.
The flags were apparently designed by a committee of historians. It was suggested they should be made of Irish linen and measure no more than six feet by seven feet square. (1.82 meters by 2.16). However it was decided that they should be three feet by three feet nine inches and made of silk or poplin.
Volunteer Colour of the Limerick IVF
A certain O'Rahilly a member of this committee seemed to be the prime figure in the designs of these flags. He explained in the IVF journal that the winged maiden harp, rather than a plain pillared harp was adopted on the advice of a Dr George Simpson, stating the green harp flag was "as matter of fact, the national flag of Ireland." Simpson said that the green harp fla was established "by history" as the national flag, and that the winged maiden harp was "identified with Ireland only" and dated from the thirteenth century and by placing this version of the harp on the national flag, it would avoid confusion with the arms of the Province of Leinster.
The O'Rahilly explained the rising sun represented "the coming of Lugh, the sun god of Irish antiquity, out of the kingdom of Manannan (the sea)" to "rescue" the island. He even went so far as to claim that a rising sun was on the ancient standard of Finn McCool! He didn't however mention the Fenians of the previous century.
Uniquely these colours had no text (except the numerals) this was because O'Rahilly who seemed to know a little about vexillology thought "wording of any kind is distinctly out of place on a flag."
The separate City and County units were given freedom to chose their regimental/local emblem. Use of Municipal coats of arms was suggested for most city units, but the following designs were suggested for the following units:

  • Antrim - the red lion rampant of the MacDonalds of Antrim on gold field.
  • Carlow - a four leaf shamrock, possible pun for the county's gaelic name (Ceatharlach), which is similar to ceathair (four)
  • Down - the St Patrick's Saltire
  • Longford - a gold lion rampant on green field (popular arms of the O'Farrells)
  • Clare - three lion passants on a red field (popular arms of the O'Briens) 
  • Caven - two gold lions supporting a hand (popular arms of O'Reilly)
  • Donegal - red crosslet on gold field (popular arms of the O'Donnells) 
  • Mayo - A wild boar (popular arms of the O'Malleys) 
  • Clare County East - red and white bars (popular arms of the Barrymore)
  • Clare County West - red stag on white field (arms of Muskerry)
  • Dublin - three burning castles on blue field (Dublin arms)
  • Meath - a King seated on throne (arms of the ancient province of Meath)
  • Derry City - A fortified gate, reference to the city walls of Londonderry.
  • Derry County - an oak/acorn tree. A reference to the popular meaning of the gaelic for name for Derry (Doire) meaning oak grove
  • Dublin County - a black raven on white field (a reference to Dublin's Viking origins) similar to the former County arms.
  • Monaghan - A black Ostrich, (from the MacMahon arms)
  • Fermanagh - a white horse. (a reference to Manann the Celtic sea deity)
  • Galway - a red cross on gold field the Hiberno-Norman Burke arms, the Medieval Earls of Ulster were once the greatest landowners in the county. It was also suggested this was the flag of Ireland in Cromwell's time (a possible mistake between the burke arms and red saltire on gold that appeared on Confederate flags). 
  • Kildare - St Brigid's Cross
  • Sligo - a seashell. The name Gaelic name for Sligo (Sligeach) means a shellbank. 
  • Leitrim - Two black lions on gold field (arms of the O'Rourkes).
  • Limerick - an interpretation of the stone on which the Treaty of Limerick was signed.
  • Limerick County - A red (St Patrick's) saltire, from the Fitzgerald arms. Distinguished from the St Patrick's Saltire of Down by placing it on an ermine field. 
  • Tipperary - a gold antique crown on blue field. similar to the Munster arms
  • Waterford - A blue lozenge
  • Westmeath - red, white and black bars. The meaning is not clear but thought to be a reference to legend of Deirdre, and sons of Usna. (checks red as blood. Skin white as snow, hair black as raven) although there is no local connection to the legend.  
  • Wexford - a red cross on black field taken from the "Wexford Marksmen" flag of 1798 mentioned in Part 9.
  • Tyrone - The  red hand of Ulster. A symbol used by the chiefs of the clan O'Neil. Who once held the title Earl of Tyrone. 
Had all these recommendations been followed then the colours might have looked something like this:

Proposed unit colours of the Irish Volunteer Force showing the use of local/regimental insignia and battalion numbers
click to enlarge or open image in new tab
The idea of a uniform set of unit colours for what was at best a citizen army was quite radical, and indeed this is the most comprehensive set of territorial flags in known Irish history. I find these flags rather splendid (coming from someone whose great grandparents pledged to resist Home Rule in the Ulster Covenant). However there were objections raised by IVF officers to the proposal. A FJ Bigger (who was not one of the historians on the design committee) preferred a plain fore pillar harp, and thought the rising sun was "too oriental" as well as objecting to some of the regional unit insignias.  He claimed that the MacDonalds never used a red lion, and that the St Patrick's Cross was an English invention and was (and I quote) "faked for union jack purposes." He is also quote claiming the winged maid of erin harp was "of foreign origin." As seen in these series both these emblems have long and complex histories in Ireland, histories which were (and are) often warped, twisted or denayed for political purpose, Bigger seems to be a victim of this.
National standard of 3rd Battalion of the Wicklow IVF
Now in the National Museum of Ireland
 How many of these flags were actually made is unknown. Bigger said he saw two, one for a "northern city" and an unspecified place to the west.
The design wasn't followed to the letter, either. As seen above the Limerick colour has no battalion number. Other surviving flags such as the colours of the 1st Wexford Battalion of the unit, used a plain pillar harp, and rather than the roman numeral battalion number used the text "1st Batt, Enniscorthy"
The national standard of the 3rd (Aughrim) Battalion of the Wicklow Volunteers conforms to the above pattern but in two respects. It has a plain pillar harp, and battalion name units number. The crossed spears on a crimson canton was the badge suggested by the Provincial Committee for the Wicklow Volunteer Regiment.
IVF flag by FJ Bigger preserved in Defence HQ, Dublin
Another flag that seems to have been inspired by but totally different from the proposed flags already mentioned, was presented to Londonderry IVF in Celtic Park in the city. It is a green harp flag with plain fore pillar, in the top conner of the fly is a red hand of Ulster, on a white disc, with four yellow triquetral knots. This flag was presented to the Derry IVF as a gift from a Charles O'Neil who was related to FJ Bigger who is thought to have designed the flag. It is preserved in the Republic of Ireland's Department of Defence HQ in Dublin.
two UVF colour parties on parade during the Home Rule Crisis
The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) also made use of regimental colours. I am not a aware of any examples of a standard uniform design. However for the most part their colours mirrored the infantry colours of the Army. Like the propose colours of the IVF, each battalion carried two flags a "King's Colour" and a regimental colour. However unlike the IVF there doesn't seem to be any standard design and the flags vary from unit to unit. Each battalion seems to have carried a Union Flag known as the "King's Colour" (although technically speaking only the authorised organisation very few of which exist outside the army can officially carry King's/Queen's colours). These flags varied little, and common designs included unaltered flags, to flag like the one on the top of the page, which were defaced with a crown and the UVF insignia. A surviving example of this type of flag, is laid up in St Nicholas' Church of Ireland in Carrickfergus Co Antrim. The insignia on this flag is particularly interesting as instead of the UVF motto "For God and Ulster" the motto reads "For King and Empire." Below this are two scrolls reading "Central Antrim Regt" (Regiment) and "3rd Batn" (3rd Battalion). In the canton is the battalion number in roman numerals.
"King's Colour" of the  3rd Battalion, Central Antrim Regiment UVF
laid up in St Nicholas' Church, Carrickfergus
judging by surviving flags,(which are now over a century old) defacing the Union Jack with insignia like this was rare, the more common practice seems to have copied the army practice, of placing a crowned circle in the centre of the flag, In the centre of this circle was either the battalion number (in roman numerals) or the text "Ulster Volunteer Force" On the edge was the text reading the regiment's name and in some cases the battalion number.
The regimental colours vary greatly and are often different colours and blazoned with different badges or insignia. It does not appear that the earliest flags were variants of the boyne/orange standard but with the colours reversed (purple field with orange star) often with the words "Ulster Volunteer Force" or "UVF" in the centre, these appear to be flags of the terrorist group which adopted the name in the 1970s, the oldest date from that period and appear to have originally made by prisoners in jail:
example of 1970s UVF flag based on Boyne Standard
 Another early example of unit colours was a flag bearing a crown and two scrolls. One scroll would have the unit name the other the battalion number. Between the scrolls were the letters "UVF."
colour of 2nd Battalion, Monaghan regiment UVF
Preserved in Monaghan Orange Hall
This appears to have been an attempt to adopt a standardised design. However as the organisation evolved and became more organised and individual unit flags were adopted, colours based on those used by the military were used. The common theme for these flags were a Union flag canton, a central badge, and the unit name, and a motto, on two scrolls. A rather splendid flag like this survives in a church in Cookstown Co Tyrone. It is a beautifully home made flag based on the colours of an Irish regiment in the British army. It is white with a small Union Jack in the canton (an odd size when compared to other flags.) In the centre is a harp and crown, surrounded by a wreath of roses, thistles and shamrocks and (what I think is) flax. Above and below are two scrolls. The top reads "Tyrone Regiment" with "5th Batt. Cookstown" below which seems to have been added as an afterthought. The bottom scroll has the UVF motto "For God and Ulster." In each corner are the emblems of the Union, a red hand (for Ulster) a rose (England), a shamrock (Ireland) and a thistle (Scotland). The inclusion of a red hand, as well as a shamrock is interesting an suggests that Ulster folk were at this early stage, already beginning to see the province as a different entity from the rest of the island.
Colour of 5th (Cookstown) Battalion of the Tyrone Regiment UVF
This example used a well established symbol used on colours, but other units used municipal coats of arms, like the IVF did. For example the City of Derry Regiment used a variant of the city coat of arms, with the motto "No Surrender" the battle cry first shouted in the 1689 siege of Londonderry. This flag is laid up in the city's historic Cathedral alongside so many other military flags dating from the 17th Century to more recent times.
Colours of the "City of Derry Regiment" UVF laid up in St Columb's Cathedral Londonderry
Many other unit colours appear to have adopted UVF related insignia as their central badge. The East Belfast Regiment for example, adopted the UVF badge in the centre of the Burke arms based on the flag of Ulster. Battalion numbers appeared in roman numerals in the flags canton.
reenactment of UVF units being presented with colours at a drum head service (a religious service in the field, where drums are used to make a temporary alter, a tradition still practiced in the UK armed forces)
Fortunately the civil war never materialised. In a sad irony of history the men and women of both Volunteer forces fought side by side for their various reasons in the first World War, many of whom never came home.