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Board of Ordnance: Naval Ordnance (Britain)

Last modified: 2012-01-21 by rob raeside
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Naval Ordnance

[Naval Ordnance] by Martin Grieve

On 21st October 1891 Naval Ordnance, which was still part of the War Office Ordnance Department, was made into a separate Naval Ordnance Department. Proposals for the badge on the Naval Ordnance Blue Ensign were:

  1. The same badge as War Office Ordnance with red border removed, blue balls on white, blue cannon on red (see below)
  2. War Office Ordnance badge with a yellow rope border replacing the red one, and a vertical yellow foul anchor above the shield.
  3. War Office Ordnance badge, with, in lower hoist canton, a crown above a vertical yellow foul anchor.
  4. As 2 but with anchor in lower hoist instead of above the shield.
Some thought it unnecessary to introduce another flag, and contended that all vessels employed by Admiralty Dockyards and Victualling Yards should fly the same flag. However DAS (Director Armament Supply ?) was in favour of a special flag and his view prevailed. Proposal 4 was chosen and inserted into the Admiralty Flag Book 1889 edition as 'Ensign for vessels belonging to Naval Ordnance Department, Admiralty' [Errata 3, 28th March 1892].

The use on a flag, of a foul anchor, rather than a plain anchor, was unusual. William Perrin, who wrote "British Flags", was Admiralty Librarian at the time. He thought that the difference in pattern was probably accidental; the anchor perhaps having been copied from the Admiralty Seal. The plain anchor on the Blue Ensign of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service was a survival from the Board of Transport badge that owed its format to the fact that it was an off-shoot of the Navy Board, in whose badge the anchors were without cable.

In 1922 the title of the flag was changed to 'Ensign for Naval Armament Vessels. (Armament Supply Department, Admiralty)' [Errata 5, NL14220/21]. In the same year it was decided that the ensign was not necessary and would be replaced by the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Ensign as existing stocks were exhausted.
Order T.28745/22.

This had been opposed by DAS who thought that Naval Armament virtually constituted a self-contained service, and that in terms of esprit-de-corps, anything which would tend to destroy the individuality of the service was to be deprecated.
David Prothero, 24 September 2004

Rejected proposal #1

[Naval Ordnance] by Martin Grieve