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Board of Ordnance: Royal Corps of Transport Fleet (Britain)

Last modified: 2012-01-20 by rob raeside
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Royal Corps of Transport Fleet

The crossed swords blue ensign of the Royal Army Service Corps was chosen as the ensign of the Royal Corps of Transport Fleet formed on 5th July 1965. A badge of the ensign, introduced during the 1939-45 War, was still the shoulder flash on the uniforms of both civilians and soldiers.

In October 1966 a Royal Warrant was issued; "HM the Queen has graciously permitted operational vessels of the Army flying the Army Ensign commanded by Army officers and manned by military personnel in uniform to be titled Her Majesty's Army Vessels and to fly the Union Flag at the fore (?) when moored, or dressed overall under way."

[Army ensign] by Martin Grieve

Badge detail

[Army ensign] by Martin Grieve

There was no Army Ensign, the crossed swords ensign being the ensign of a corps, and the task of designing an Army Ensign was given to HQ Maritime Group RCT Portsmouth, who produced a Blue Ensign defaced by crossed swords superimposed with the royal crest. It was approved by the Queen and announced in Army Order 53/66, and Defence Council Instruction (General) 62/67. The ensign was first flown on 17 May 1967 by Tank Landing Craft engaged in Exercise Wagon Trail.

The Army Ensign was the army equivalent of the navy's White Ensign, while the crossed sword ensign was comparable to the vertical anchor Blue Ensign of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Service. The army copied navy tradition by flying the Union Jack in the bows of ships being launched, with the Army Flag (instead of the Admiralty Flag) amidships.

On 5th April 1993 the Royal Corps of Transport was merged with the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, the Royal Pioneer Corps, the Army Catering Corps and the Postal and Courier elements of the Royal Engineers to form the Royal Logistics Corps. The last HMAVs, Arakan and Ardennes, were decommissioned in 1998, and the Army Ensign became dormant, leaving only the crossed sword ensign still in use.
David Prothero, 29 September 2004