History of the Red Duster.
Definition of Civil.
relating to ordinary citizens and their concerns, as distinct from military or ecclesiastical matters.
In other words everyday men and women ,the people.
Definition of MERCHANT:
A man or woman who traffics or carries on private or public trade with foreign countries, or who exports and imports goods and sells them by wholesale.
In other words everyday men and women, the people.
These two definitions have absolutely nothing to do with Governments Parliament or Government employees (MPs,Politicians or Political Parties)
In this article we will dive into the Origins of the Red Duster and the first assented national flag of the united people of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Once upon a time, the British Merchant Navy was bigger than the rest of the world’s tonnage added together.
Unfortunately, not so today.
The reasons behind the decline of Britain’s merchant shipping are numerous.
The Red Ensign or “Red Duster” is the civil ensign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
It is one of the British ensigns, and it is used either plain, or adorned/embellished with a badge or other emblem mostly in the right half.
The English Merchant Navy really began to develop in the fifteenth century.
As trade and commerce expanded the merchants of the day began to travel overseas looking for new products and new markets.
The sixteenth century saw the voyages of exploration by famous Elizabethan seamen and navigators; famous names which included Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and Martin Frobisher.
We usually regard these men as historical heroes, but in many respects a lot of their exploits bordered on piracy.
However, they set forth into the unknown in tiny ships and tribute must be paid to their bravery without which England would never have become a great sea power.
The history of the Red Ensign is intertwined with the history of the Australian National flag.
From 1901 to 1954 the 3 Red Ensign flags were in practice, used as Australia′s Civil Flag, i.e. the flag to be flown by private citizens on land.
1901 to 1903 unofficial pre approval pre Gazzetted flag competition design
Flag Adopted: 3 September 1901
Use: Unofficial Civil Ensign and unofficial National Flag on Land
1903 to 1908 Offical, Gazzetted approved and recorded hansard version
Flag Gazzetted 20th feb 1903
Use: official Civil Ensign and official Flag to be flown on Land by private civilians.
1908 to 1953
GAZETTE # 65 (1908)
Use: official Civil Ensign and official Flag to be flown on Land by private civilians until Menzies change the law to allow private civilians to fly the blue ensign.
The Blue Ensign was always for Government use only, reflecting British practice with its ensigns.
Many like to state that our current national flag – the blue Australian ensign – is our national flag and it has been forever and that people have “fought and died” for it.
This is one of their arguments against change, and these indoctrinated men and women use it all the time.
Yet They ignore the significance of the Red Ensign, despite its overwhelming use in Australia and overseas during the first half of the 20th century.
There are many over looked issues with this claim .
For a start Australia′s Blue ensign national flag only become so in 1954.
Prior to that date, its use by ordinary citizens was strongly and actively discouraged and in some cases carried a strict penalty if flown by everyday Australians.
The blue flag was not some glorious and romantic flag of the people, but an instrument of Government,including the Coat of Arms.
The public didn′t officially have a flag to fly other than the Union Jack until after federation which is what many people flew until official assent, proclamation and gazetted of the Red ensign in 1903 .
In 1901 Apart from the union jack ,if anyone wanted a more Australian symbol they used the 1901 red ensign as a de-jure Civil Flag pre assent .
It was not strictly correct, but it happened at every level of the community, including the AIF and other Armed Services.
There is a wealth of pictorial evidence which proves that the red ensign was the flag which both the public and members of the Armed Services overwhelmingly related to and “adopted” as Australia′s de-jure national flag prior to 1954.
This period of course includes both World War I and World War II.
Australia′s first ′Federal′ flag was chosen from a national flag competition held in 1901.
Initially started by the Melbourne monthly magazine The Review of Reviews for Australasia, the new Federal Government announced a further competition (Gazetted 29 April 1901) and the earlier competition entries were transferred and the prize was increased to 200 pounds.
The competition attracted 32 823 entries.
The entry rules for the private competition were highly suggestive and the judging and approval process were such that only a British Ensign with a badge representative of Australia was likely to be a winner.
When the winning flag design was chosen, a review of the entries revealed that five people submitted almost identical designs.
These people were declared joint winners and shared the prizemoney.
Annie Dorrington, Artist, Perth (1866-1926)
Ivor Evans, Student, Haymarket, Melbourne (1888-1960)
Leslie Hawkins, Student, Leichhardt, Sydney (1883-1966)
Egbert Nuttall, Architect, Prahran, Melbourne (1866-1963)
William Stevens, Steamship Officer, Auckland, New Zealand (1866-1928)
Australia′s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, announced the winning design in Melbourne on 3 September 1901.
The original design was similar to the current flag, except the Federation Star contained only 6 points and the Southern Cross was represented by stars ranging from 5 to 9 points to indicate their relative apparent brightness in the night sky.
Also, the field was red for Civil use, with the blue ensign being reserved for Government use only.
The adoption of the winning flag design was never debated in the Australian Parliament – it was sent to the Imperial Authorities in England to be approved.
It wasn′t until late 1902 that King Edward VII formally notified the Australian Government of the approval, and this approval was finally Gazetted on 20 February 1903.
The assented design was slightly different in regards to the federation star, with the assented design having a slight taper at the base .
The original design has been changed three times 1901,1903, 1908
In 1906 Australia acquired the Territory of Papua, and to indicate this the number of points on the Federation Star was increased to seven in 1908. This design change was Gazetted on 22 May 1909.
When the Northern Territory and ACT were created as Federal Territories in 1911, the number of points on the Federation Star was not increased and remained at seven.
The red ensign remained the Civil flag and the blue ensign the Government flag.
The Flags Act 1953 formally adopted the current design as Australia′s “National Flag” and the Act was assented to by Queen Elizabeth II on her first visit to Australia on 15 April 1954,
Finally, more than 53 years after the first design was hoisted, Australia had another official national flag, yet this change was never put to the people via any referendum .
It seems clear Menzies′ arbitrary changing in 1954 of the then popular Red Ensign to blue, without consulting the Australian people, was for blatant political purposes in his campaign against the “red” communist peril.
In 1941, Prime Minister Robert Menzies stated that there should be no restrictions on private citizens using the Blue Ensign on land, and in 1947 Prime Minister Ben Chifley reaffirmed this position, but it was not until the passage of the Flags Act 1953 that the restriction on civilians flying the Blue Ensign was lifted.
Some will claim the flags act and the shipping act of today to all be above board however after extensive research we at Sovereign Australia believe that this is not the case.
However thats not what this article is about.
One thing is sure our diggers and our fellow Australians loved our Red Ensign .
From our research we have found our diggers would make them in the trenches out of what ever they could find and drench them in the blood of our Anzacs .
Another thing to consider was what our Red Ensign represented to we the free people of the Commonwealth of Australia.
Not to mention the thousands of lives lost defending it and the Imperial Crown realm Commonwealth of Australia.
Some of us remember the reasons for lest we forget.
If you ask us , we belive its imperative our Commonwealth people know and remember our History, good and bad for it shows how far we have come as a free people.
Another important thing to note for all the die hard flag fans.
A flag is a symbol and it has symbology attached to it .
The union jack means something and so to do the stars there positions and relative points it also has religious symbology attached to the decision making process.
Many will argue this fact however it still remains a fact..
Stay tuned for we shall dive into that in another article.
We have loads more photos just like these you can see them on our facebook page and unity partners pages also.