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Dictionary of Vexillology: D (Disc - Divisions)

Last modified: 2024-07-20 by rob raeside
Keywords: vexillological terms |
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1) In vexillology a circular area of single colour used as a charge, and often (but not invariably) symbolic of the sun or a full moon (see also ‘charge’, ‘crescent 1)’, ‘hinomaru’, ‘ring 1) and sun emblem.
2) In heraldry, see ‘roundel 3).

[Palau] [example] [disc]
National Flag of Palau (fotw); Roundel, Ukraine (fotw); Flag of the Christian-Democrat Party of East Timor (fotw)

1) In vexillology see ‘ring 1)’.
2) In heraldry see ‘annulet’ (also ‘voided’).

[voided disk] [voided disk] [voided disk]
Flag of the Kurdish Workers Party, Turkey (fotw); Arms and Flag of Ringerike, Norway (fotw)

(v) To add any unauthorised charge, device or wording to the field of a flag, particularly when it is of an insulting or pejorative nature (see also ‘charge’, ‘desecrate’ and ‘device’ and compare with ‘deface’).
In UK usage now obsolete, a term for the formal removal of a colour from the location at which it was housed and displayed during the relevant battalion’s temporary stay in any municipality (see also ‘lodging’ and ‘uncase(d) 1)’).

1) The heraldic term used when an eagle or other winged creature is shown with its wings elevated and sometimes inverted (see also ‘rising’, ‘vol’ and ‘volant’).
2) (adj) On flags the term may be used in place of flown, bourn or carried etc. – for example “a flag/pennant/banner was displayed above the…”, or “the flagpole displayed a finial in the form of a…”, or “the flag/pennant/banner displayed a charge…”.

displayed example displayed example displayed example
Flag of Brandenburg, Germany (fotw); Flag of Mazowieckie, Poland (fotw); Flag of Barnim, Germany (fotw)

See ‘Appendix II’.

See ‘sailor's mast’.

See ‘hoistline’ and its following note.

See ‘privateer jack’.

[distinction jack]
Distinction/Privateer Jack 1694 - 1801. England/UK

In English then British RN usage now obsolete, the system of grading flag officers according to their seniority see ‘blue ensign 2)’, ‘flag officer 2)’, ‘red ensign 2)’ and ‘white ensign 2)’ and their following notes (also ‘yellow admiral’).

[distinction of colour] [distinction of colour] [distinction of colour]
Command Flags of Flag Officers of the Red, White and Blue 1625 1702 (fotw)

a) This system was formally introduced in 1625, amended in 1653, extended in 1805 (the rank of Admiral of the Red was introduced following Trafalgar) and abolished in 1864.

b) Until the early 18th Century however, these were not part of the naval rank structure, but were (rather) positions conferred by royal appointment to cover a specified campaign (although once an admiral always an admiral).
c) In 1653 the order of seniority was changed from red, blue and white to red, white then blue.

1) The term, now obsolete, for one of four triangular pennants used in Marryat’s 1817 Code of Signals for the Merchant Service, and raised at the head of a particular signal hoist to indicate which section of the signal book should be used to interpret the following flags - see Marryat’s code (also ‘pendant’, ‘preparative’, ‘signal flag’ and the note following ‘international code of signals’).
2) See ‘pendant of distinction’.

[distinction pendant] [distinction pendant]
Distinction Pennants 1 and 3 in Marryat’s Code of Signals for the Merchant Service 1817 – 1857 (fotw)

1) The flag of a civil position within a governmental structure, as opposed to that signifying military rank, as in for example, the distinguishing flag of a Government minister (see also ‘diplomatic flags’).
2) An alternative term for a rank flag (see also ‘rank flag’).
3) In US Air Force and Marine Corps usage, a flag denoting an officer's rank – see ‘individual flag’ (also ‘flag of command’, ‘personal flag 3)’ and ‘rank flag 1)’).
4) In US military usage, the flag of a command or organization not authorized to bear colours.

[distinguishing flags] [distinguishing flags] [distinguishing flags]
Minister of Defence, Argentina (fotw); Secretary for Defense US (fotw); Ministry of Extraordinary Situations, Russia (fotw)

Please note, that although these terms are sometimes considered interchangeable, the Editors have drawn a general distinction between the command flags used by senior naval officers, the rank flags employed by officers from the other armed services, the distinguishing flags of civilians and with personal flags.

1) A newly introduced term for the jack (of a design which differs from its accompanying ensign) that is flown whilst a vessel is underway in order to distinguish that vessel’s special service or purpose, with an example in current use being the flag of a UK consular officer if flown as a jack but see ‘colonial jack’, ‘government service jack’, under ‘jack’ and the notes below (also ‘diplomatic flags’, ‘jack’ and ‘jack staff’).
2) A term which may also be used when the standard of a head of state (a royal or presidential standard) is flown from the jack staff of a naval launch when that head of state is aboard but see ‘presidential standard(s) 1)’ and ‘royal standard(s) 1)’).

[distinguishing jack] [distinguishing jack] [distinguishing jack]
Presidential Standard, Croatia (fotw) Consular Officer Afloat, UK (fotw); Royal Standard, Spain (fotw)

a) In Germany and Austria, Government (as well as civilian) vessels often fly the flag of the relevant state/province as a distinguishing jack.
b) In some commonwealth countries the appropriate departmental flag is specified as a jack for government vessels.
c) In UK usage now obsolete, the British Civil Air Ensign was flown as a jack by those tenders who serviced the flying boats of Imperial Airways (1924 1939).

[distinguishing jack] [distinguishing jack]
Short Empire Flying Boat c1938, UK (Wikipedia); Civil Air Ensign, UK (fotw)

Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), this is the mark that identifies a vessel's status as the warship or government owned ship of a sovereign state, and thus operated for non-commercial purposes (see also ‘suit of flags’).

[distinguishing flags]
A Stealth Warship of the Royal Norwegian Navy Flying the Distinguishing Marks of Ensign, Jack and Masthead Pennant

Please note that this distinguishing mark is invariably the ship's ensign, to lesser extent the masthead pennant and in some cases also the jack (see also 'ensign' 'jack' ‘masthead pennant 1)’) and ‘suit of colours’).

See ‘rank plate’.

[distinguishing plate]
Distinguishing/Rank Plate of a Vice Admiral RN, UK

In British RN and some other naval usage now obsolete, the alternative terms for a short triangular pennant or large rectangular flag of different coloured panels, often stiffened with a frame and sometimes flown (in addition to a masthead pennant) by sailing warships to indicate (depending upon the masthead employed) the division of a fleet to which they belonged or to identify individual ships within that division (see also ‘frame 2)’, ‘masthead’ and ‘masthead pennant 1)’).

1) Flag A (Alpha or Alfa) in the International Code of Signals, signifying that the vessel flying the flag has a diver down and that vessels approaching should keep well clear and proceed at slow speed (see also ‘International Code of Signal Flags’ and ‘signal flag’).
2) In US and some other usage, a red flag with a white descending diagonal stripe indicating that divers are below the surface in the immediate vicinity of the flag.

[diver below flags]  [diver below flags]
Signal Flag Alpha (fotw); Unofficial Warning Flag (fotw)

Please note however, that while often referred to as unofficial, use of 2) is required by law in most US states, and by law or regulation in some other countries.

See ‘expanding stripes’.

[diverging stripes example]
Flag of Zeewolde, Netherlands (fotw)

1) In vexillology see ‘bicolour’, ‘multi-stripe’, ‘triband’ and ‘tricolour’.
2) In heraldry see ‘party’.

[divided example] [divided example] [divided example]
Aboriginal Flag, Australia (fotw); National Flag, Uganda (fotw); Civil Flag and Ensign, Belgium (fotw)

See ‘golden mean’.

[divided example]
National Flag of Togo in the golden mean/divine ratio (fotw)

A phrase used to describe the boundaries between two fields on a shield, banner of arms or a flag lines of partition but see the note below and dancetty’, ‘embattled’, ‘embowed’, ‘indented’, ‘nebuly’ and ‘serrated’ (also ‘flanches’ and ‘stepped’).

[division example] [division example] [division example]
Flag of Groesbeek, The Netherlands (fotw); Flag of Seftigen, Switzerland (fotw); National Flag of Bahrain (fotw)

Please note that the above phrase does not refer to the dividing of a shield or flag into two or more straight-sided sections as illustrated below - see impaled and quartered.

divisions divisions
Flag of Sugnens, Switzerland (fotw); House Flag of Freitas Martins, Portugal (fotw)

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