26 July 2009

The Newfoundland Flag: Great War version

flag ww1For those who have been following the Newfoundland flag posts, here’s another contribution that may well surprise some people.

This is an example of the certificates sent to families of soldiers killed during the Great War (1914-1918).  A similar document for sailors killed in action had the words Royal Naval Reserve in place of “1st Newfoundland Regiment”.

The flag to the left is the familiar Union Flag. 

The one on the right is the red ensign, adopted by the Newfoundland legislature in 1904.  The red version flew on government buildings while the blue version flew on government ships.

Incidentally, a Wikipedia entry on Newfoundland and Labrador incorrectly identifies the ensign as an “unofficial commercial flag” while one on the Dominion of Newfoundland shows the ensign correctly as the official flag..

great seal The ensign included the 1827 Great seal of Newfoundland in the fly.   The Great Seal depicts a fisherman and Mercury, the god of commerce, presenting the harvest of the sea to Britannia.  The motto is translated as “These gifts I bring thee.”

This was the official flag of Newfoundland at the time of the Great War.  In fact, you’ll have a hard time finding any official documents from the period which substitute another flag for the red or blue ensign. 

There are other examples of unofficial documents that use this flag in preference to any other.  A handbill distributed by the Fishermen’s Protective Union to praise the sacrifice of the Morey family of Boot Harbor [sic], Hall’s Bay shows the Union Flag and the red ensign.  The Morey’s had seven sons:  a total of four served with the Newfoundland regiment (2), the Royal Naval Reserve (1)and the forestry corps(1) .  A fifth had joined the American army and two others had tried repeatedly to enlist but been rejected for undisclosed reasons.

A poem honoring the regiment’s Roman catholic padre, Father Thomas Nangle, appeared in the August 1916 issue of the Newfoundland Quarterly. The only flags on the page are the Union Flag and the red ensign of Newfoundland.