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Belgium: Military Colours and Standards

Last modified: 2011-11-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: military colour | military standard | croix de guerre | standard bearer |
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Introduction

For all the flags described below, a gold fringe 5 cm wide is attached.
The staff is black, in two pieces with a brass joint, and topped by a 15 cm (7.5 cm on fanions) gilt bronze finial consisting of an ionic column surrounded by an oak and laurel wreath supporting a rectangular platform.
On the longer sides of the platform, the national motto and unit designation are inscribed in French (L'Union fait la force) on one side and in Dutch (Eendracht maakt Macht) on the other.
On the ends are the initials of the monarch presenting the color.
Atop the platform is a rampant lion of Brabant.
Unit decorations are attached below the finial, as is a 1.5 m (for drapeaux) gold cord and tassels, tied around the staff at the middle, with the ends of the cord tied in a knot halfway down their length.

Sources:

  • Luc A. Lecleir, Emblemen en Eervolle Vermeldingen van de Eenheden (Brussels, Dienst Geschiedenis, 1972)
  • Belgium File, U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002


Army

[1st of Line, reverse]     [1st of Line, obverse]

Colour of the First Regiment of the Line, obverse and reverse - Image by Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002

Infantry units (for instance, Régiment de Chasseurs Ardennais) have a drapeau / vlag, a square vertical tricolor of black, yellow, and red within a 15 mm wide gold border, the whole being 90 cm square. The names of actions for which the unit was cited in the orders of the Belgian Army are embroidered in gold in French on the obverse and in Dutch on the reverse, in straight lines.
Cavalry and artillery regiments carry an étendard / vaandel. The same pattern as above, but 80 cm square.
Cyclist and Engineers units have a fanion / wimpel, again the same pattern, but 70 cm square.

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002


Navy

[Navy standard]

Standard of the Navy - Image by Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002

According to L. Nyssen (Einige Flaggen der belgischen Marine von 1815 bis heute [nys96], Flaggenkurier [dfk] (1995), also available online), the standard (étendard / vaandel), of the Navy was granted by Prince Regent Charles on 15 June 1946. It is the national tricolor in 77 x 88 cm dimensions, with the name of the service (Force Navale) and the places and dates of actions in which Belgian seamen distinguished themselves during the Second World War inscribed in French in straight lines of gold block letters. The medal of the Croix de Guerre (1939-1945) with palm appears in the upper hoist. The field is bordered by a narrow gold strip all around; in addition, there is gold fringe along the three free sides of the flag.
Nyssen does not say so, but normal Belgian practice would be for the flag to carry the same information on the reverse in Dutch, the name in Dutch at the time the flag was granted being Zeemacht. It is not clear to me whether the actual Croix de Guerre medal is pinned to the flag or if its design is embroidered onto the field. Nyssen shows it set diagonally and I have followed that example.

Navy units have a drapeau / vlag, as for the infantry, with the exception that the top inscription is MARINE BELGE on the obverse and BELGISCHE MARINE on the reverse (formerly FORCE NAVALE and ZEEMACHT).

Joe McMillan, 4 December 2003

According to the Army Museum (Brussels) fact sheets (text by Dominique Henrard), the flag was officially handed over by the Regent on 13 September 1946. Recipient was Commodore G. TImmermans, Head of the Navy.
The standard, made of silk, is used during parades on land and kept at Zeebrugge Naval Base.
The words written on the flag are:
ZEEMACHT
SLAG VAN BELGIE 1940
ATLANTISCHE OCEAAN
NOORDZEEKANAAL
SCHELDE
That is Navy - Battle for Belgium 1940 - Atlantic Ocean - Strait of Dover - Scheldt.
The fourragères are in the colours of the Order of Leopold and the War Cross, plus a French War Cross with Palms.
The Navy standard was restored by Maison Bertrand (Brussels) in 1967: the black stripe, the fringe, and the inscriptions were replaced.

Jan Mertens, 5 January 2007


Air Force

Air Force units carry a flag known as a fanion / wimpel, but 80 cm square like an army étendard / vaandel. Otherwise the same design.

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002


Honour Diploma of Standard Bearer

The Honour Diploma of Standard Bearer is prescribed by a Royal Decree signed on 18 January 2001 and published in the Belgian official gazette on 9 March 2001.

Article 1. The Honour Diploma of Standard Bearer is created to award the standard bearers with good behaviour who have served, voluntarily and with dignity, for three years as the standard bearer in patriotic unions grouping either disabled ex-servicemen, ex-servicement or war victims, or ex-soldiers, or both categories or their eligible parties.

Article 2. The Honour Diploma is confered by the Minister concerned with the disabled ex-servicemen, the ex-servicemen and the war victims, on the proposal of the local patriotic union.
The proposals, together with a certificate of good behaviour approved by the state authorities, shall be forwarded to the department by the way of the national federations.
The Honour Diploma and the form to request it are prescribed according to the template attached to the present Decree.

Article 3. The names of the holders of the Honour Diploma shall be published in the Belgian official gazette.

Article 4. The following Decrees are abrogated:
1. The Royal Decree of 10 October 1963 creating an Honour Diploma of Standard Bearer of Patriotic Associations;
2. The Royal Decree of 4 March 1965 creating an Honour Diploma of Standard Bearer of certain Patriotic Associations;
3. The Royal Decree of 18 December 1987 creating an Honour Diploma of Standard Bearer of the national Federations grouping the disabled civil victims of the two wars, the widows and the eligible parties.

Article 5. The Minister concerned with the disabled ex-servicemen, the ex-servicement and the war victims is charged of the enforcement of the present Decree.

Ivan Sache, 1 March 2007