1899 - 1918

1899 - 1904/5



The Official diagrams depict the battleship HMS Barfleur which was scrapped in 1910.

The top diagram is from the Admiralty Fleet Signal Book 1898 and the lower one from the Admiralty Flotilla Signal Book 1908. No specific flags are designated to be used if the lines are longer than in the diagram. No flags are specified to start and end each line.

Notice the two diagrams are similar except that in the 1904/5 diagram:

Main Down:
Union Flag removed and the flag nearest the stern is the yellow and black flag "F".

Fore to Main:
Union Flag removed and replaced with the Blue and White Pennant "





The patterns on my diagram shows examples of what some warships wore when dressed.
The green flags remain unidentified.

NOTE: Some ships did vary the odd flag in the dress lines.



Unfortunately I could find very few photos that showed a clear view of the flags used between the Fore and Main masts. HMS Terrible was the longest line found and comprised 19 flags which were mostly unidentifiable.

A similar problem occurred with the Main-Down line. The longest lines I found were HMS Temeraire with 24 flags ( unclear ), and HMS King George V with a similar amount which were obscured by smoke from a saluting gun



It appears from photos that the Union Flags were replaced late 1904 early 1905.

Although a new pattern appears in the 1913 Flag Signal Book, photographs show that only the 1908 pattern was being worn up to the start of World War 1. ( HMS King George V was wearing the 1908 pattern during a visit to Kiel in July 1914 ).

There were some slight variations to the pattern in some photos possibly due to the unavailability of certain flags on those ships. I have not located information as to whether there was a change from the 1908 to the 1913 pattern during WW1.

The Red & Green Flags, later to become Port and Starboard Flags, ( See 1919-1948 page), appear to have been introduced in 1909. They are not on the 1908 Flag Card but the Port Flag was flown by HMS Inflexible at the Hudson-Fulton Celebrations in New York in October 1909.


The following are the sizes of flags and pendants supplied, according to class of vessel.




9' x 11'
7'6"x 9'
6' x 7'6"
3'9" x 5'
3'6 x 4'
2' x 2'6"

11' x 5'
9'6" x 11'
7'6" x 9'6"
4'7" x 6'
3'11" x 5'
2'6" x 2'9"
6'9" x 22'2" x 2
5'9" x 20' x 1'6"
4'9" x 15'6" x 1'3"
3'2" x 9'2" x 10"
2'3" x 8' x 6"
1'6" x 5'

There are 67 flags in a complete set.

Taken from "Whispers from the Fleet" 1907 by Christopher Cradock. (Capt.Cradock was later killed in action in 1914 at the Battle of Coronel)