British National Flag of World War II
There’s a mystery to this flag.
Here is what we do know. It is definitely the flag of Great Britain and that it is definitely of World War II vintage. It is truly a big flag measuring 50 x 70 inches or about 4′ to almost 6′. We know that it was made in Belgium and appears to be completely hand made using a standard home-based sewing machine, not a commercial one.
What’s curious, but not a mystery, is that all of the fabric used to make the flag came from the uniforms of German occupying soldiers. The white stripes were made from the lining of the blue tunics, perhaps. The red saltire of St. George and the red cross of St. Andrews were made, well, from some infantry dress uniforms, maybe. The ‘grommets’ that held it to a building were the elastic bands found inside trousers.
Anyway, the Flanders War Museum in Belgium where this flag was originally on display confirms all of the above as true. While it wasn’t recorded as to who made the flag or where the flag was unfurled, that isn’t the real mystery to me, although that would be interesting to know.
Belgium was occupied by Germany for four years from 1940 until its liberation by Canadian and British soldiers in September 1944, a few months after the landing at D-Day in June 1944.
During that time, the civilians living under German-occupied forces were carefully watched and routinely subjected to cruel treatment as prisoners in their own country. So how is it that such a large flag was constructed to welcome the British when they liberated their country not detected by the occupiers?
More importantly, though, what was the reaction of the soldiers whose uniforms were reported missing when it dawned on them that the unfurled British flag looked awfully familiar somehow?