Original WW2 Royal Air Force Ensign Flag
Introduced in 1921, the Royal Air Force Ensign is the official flag of the British Royal Air Force.
Since the formation of the RAF in 1918, the Air Council had wanted to create their own unique flag which could be flown at RAF stations. However, the Admiralty were strongly opposed to the Royal Air Force being granted its own flag.
After considerable pressure, the Admiralty reluctantly agreed to the RAF being granted its own flag.
The Air Council initially wished to use the White Ensign with the George Cross removed. Although the War Office had no objection to this, the Admiralty did on the basis that the White Ensign was exclusively reserved for the Royal Navy’s use.
Following a lengthy dispute and intervention of King George V, the Roundel design was unanimously agreed and RAF Ensign was officially ratified on 24 March 1921.
The example for sale is the patched stitched variety and is likely to be one which would have been flown on vessels of the Marine Branch of the RAF, including those of the RAF Air Sea Rescue launches.
The Marine Craft Section came into existence just days after the Royal Air Force in 1918. Initially, it provided back-up for the flying boats but it also developed a rescue service which during and after the second world war became the largest in the world.
The launches of the RAF Air Sea Rescue were involved in many major actions of WW2 including the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940, the Dieppe Raid in 1942 and the D-Day landings in 1944. The launches were also involved in a number of clandestine operations. Post-war, amongst other duties, the branch was involved in secret submarine location work, surveys and anti-terrorist patrols. By 1986 the more versatile helicopter had taken over the rescue work and finally, the branch was privatised and it’s few remaining maritime activities were taken over by civilian contractors.
During the Second World War alone over 13,000 lives were saved by the crews of the high-speed rescue launches who faced enemy action and all weathers to uphold their pledge of “The Sea Shall Not Have Them”.