It should be noted that the signal code used by the RN during
the Second World War was **almost** the same... for completeness,
below is the World War Two version. ("Mind your 'P's and 'Q's",
as Glen Robert-Grant Hodgins has pointed out!).

The following notes are from

Ship's ensigns are suppulied in the following sizes, viz:-

In breadths ranging from 20, 16, 14, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, and so on down to a 3 breadth - the smallest.

A 20 breadth ensign measures 10 yards x 5 yards.

A 3 breadth ensign measures 1 ½ yards x ¾ yard.

John Reid (katreid@earthlink.net) suggests the following formula for working out the
intermediate sizes:
I noticed that in each case, the length (or "fly") of the ensign is one half the breadth number given the ensign, and that the width (or "hoist") is, in turn, one half the length. If this is in reality a formula for determining an ensign's length and width, that would give the following dimensions: - A 16 ensign - 8 yards x 4 yards
- A 14 ensign - 7 yards x 3 1/2 yards
- A 12 ensign - 6 yards x 3 yards
- A 10 ensign - 5 yards x 2 1/2 yards
- A 8 ensign - - 4 yards x 2 yards
- A 6 ensign - - 3 yards x 1 1/2 yards
- A 4 ensign - - 2 yards x 1 yard
which seem reasonable in light of the stated dimensions for the 20 and 3 ensigns. |

Royal standards are supplied in the same breadths as ensigns, the 16 and 4 breadths being especially used for Royal yachts.

A 16 breadth ensign, or standard, measures 8 yards x 4 yards.

Union jacks are supplied in sizes according to the size of signal flags carried. One union jack is included in each set of flags - 12 breadth jack for No. 1 size flags, 10 breadth for No. 2 size, 8 breadth for No. 3 size, 4 breadth for Nos. 4 and 5 size, 3 breadth for No. 6 size.

In addition, 10 breadth and 6 breadth jacks are supplied for jack staff; and one 4 breadth for each steamboat of 40 ft and above. Royal yachts and flagships are supplied with a 12 breadth jack, as well as the foregoing.

A 3 breadth jack measures 1 ½ yards x ¾ yards.

Court martial jacks are usually 12 breadth.

Ships' pendants range from 14 yards to 3 yards, those above 6 yards in length are made 4 inches at the masthead, remainder 2 ½ inches at the masthead. The smallest Government vessel flying the White Ensign has the right to fly a pendant. The origin of the pendant or whip, as is well known, was the British reply to Van Tromp's broom.

Boats' pendants are made up on board ship to suit the sizes of the boats.

The length of the rope tack of a signal flag used to be the same as the bunting breadth of that flag's tack, but now is of a fixed length of 12 inches.

A breadth of bunting is 9 inches.

The following are the sizes of flags and pendants supplied, according to class of vessel, per list of establishment of stores:-

Rectangular |
Triangular |
Pendants | |

No. 1 size | 9 x 11 ft | 11 x 5 ft | 6 ¾ x 22 x 2 ft |

No. 2 | 7 ½ x 9 ft | 9 ½ x 11 ft | 5 ¾ x 20 x 1 ½ ft |

No. 3 | 6 x 7 ½ ft | 7 ½ x 9 ½ ft | 4 ¾ x 15 ½ x 1 ¼ ft |

No. 4 | 3 ¾ x 5 ft | 4 7/12 x 6 ft | 3 1/6 x 9 1/6 x 5/6 ft |

No. 5 | 3 ½ x 4 ft | 3 11/12 x 5 ft | 2 ¼ x 8 x ½ ft |

No. 6 | 2 x 2 ½ ft | 2 ½ x 2 ¾ ft | 1 ½ x 5 x ft |

There are 67 flags in a complete set.

If suddenly ordered to hoist an Admiral's flag and there is not one on board, cut the Church pendant in two and hoist that till you can procure or make a proper one.

Many are the aids to memory possessed by the bunting tosser, but I think one of the cleverest to be, that the flag for 'stationing astern' is remembered by its being marked like the rear half of a wasp.

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Last Updated: 22 March, 2000.