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France: Army unit pennants

Last modified: 2016-03-25 by ivan sache
Keywords: army unit pennant |
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Description of the Army unit pennants

Pennants, as prescribed by Instruction No. 685/DEF/EMAT/SH/D relative au patrimoine de tradition des unités de l'armée de terre, 21 June 1985 (text), are used by units that have no flag or standard, or by units that are part of a bigger component (regiments) already having such a flag. Units of any size can have a pennant, but the smallest must get approval from the Chief of Staff or be mentioned in dispatches. The pennants take their name from the unit (company, battalion, section, etc.) and their size change according to the importance of the unit:
- corps pennants are square (50 cm x 50 cm); the fringe, if any, shall be 4 cm long;
- battalion pennants are rectangular (50 cm x 40 cm); the fringe, if any, shall be 3.5 cm long;
- company pennants are rectangular (40 cm x 30 cm); the fringe, if any, shall be 3 cm long - section pennants are either rectangular (34 cm x 27 cm) or triangular (30 cm x 40 cm) ; the fringe, if any, shall be 3 cm long.

The pennants have a cravat, a ribbon (15 cm x 8 cm) where medals are fixed. The name of the unit is written on it. The cravat shall be of the colour attributed to the branch of the unit and the text shall be in gold or silver.

Concerning the colours:
- corps pennants: both obverse and reverse have the colour associated to its branch or service;
- battalion and company pennants: the obverse has the colour associated to its branch or service, the reverse has a colour indicating its rank in its corps. In inter-service corps, the colour of the reverse distinguishes their branches:
- section pennants: same colour as their main unit.
The pennants can be divided honzizontally, vertically or diagonally to show two colours. If a colour appears twice, then the secondary colour is replaced with white.

The obverse bears the attribute of the corps or service to which the unit belongs. The attribute shall be 20 cm high at most for corps and battalion pennants, 15 cm for the others. The name of the main unit shall appear above and under the attribute, the text shall be 4 cm high (3 cm for company pennants).
The reverse bears the insignia of the unit (which may be inspired by the attribute) and the name of the unit, the text shall be 3 cm high. Pennants shall not bear names of battles unless its main unit (for instance, regiments) does not have its own flag.

Units whose traditions are inherited from the former North Africa troops can add a toug, or horsetail, to the staff (a white tail if a leader was killed in combat, a black tail for units whose soldiers were mostly Muslims, chestnut for the others). The finial is either a pike or a traditional "attribut". The staff shall be 2 cm wide and 50 cm long.

The bannerettes, flags used on music instruments, are called flammes for trumpets and tabliers for drums. In the Navy the word flamme is used for the masthead pennant, and in French military usage tablier also means the flag proper, that is to say without the cravat, fringe or finials. So, tabliers are rectangular while flammes are triangular for hunting horns, and triangular or rectangular for clarions and trumpets (rectangular ones can be swallow-tailed to follow the tradition of a given unit). The bannerettes have the same colours (divided vertically for flammes, diagonally for tabliers) and fringes as their unit's pennant, but without inscription.

Corentin Chamboredon, 29 August 2015


Unit colour and insignia

The traditions, colours and insignia of the Army are described in the book Les traditions de l'Armée de Terre. Armes et esprit de corps by Captain Nathalie Durand (online copy).

Unit service Traditional colour(s) Attribute Metal
Infanterie (Infantry) Rose madder and/or dark blue Nine-flame grenade Gold
Chasseurs à pied (Mechanized infantry) Dark blue and daffodil Horn Silver
Zouaves (Former light infantry and commandos) Rose madder Crescent Gold
Chasseurs parachutistes (Airborne rifles) Orange Circled winged armes dextrocher Gold
Troupes de marine (Navy infantry) Dark blue Colonial anchor Gold
Arme blindé, et cavalerie (Armored cavalry) Dark cerulean Helm with panache of feathers Silver
Cuirassiers Rose madder Exploding granade Silver
Dragons (Dragoons) White Two lances in saltire with flames Silver
Chasseurs (Rifles / Rangers) Dark green Round horn Silver
Hussards Light blue Hongroise Silver
Spahis Scarlet Crescent and Solomon's seal Gold
Régiments de chars de combat (Tanks) Grey or green Two cannons in slatire with a helmet in profile Gold
Train (Logistics) Green and white Winged cogwheel Silver
Troupes aéroportées (Airborne troops) Green and blue Winged cogwheel Silver
Génie (Engineers) Black and red Armor and helmet of the sapeurs de la garde Gold
Transmissions (Communications) Dark blue and sky blue Armor and helmet of the sapeurs de la garde bearing a Tau cross Gold
Matériel Dark grayish cyan and dark blue A cogwheel behind two cannons in saltire, a nine-flame grenade laying on the cannons Silver (the cannons can be in gold)
Aviation légèe de l'Armée de Terre (mainly, helicopters of the Army) Cobalt blue Winged star Silver
Commissariat de l'Armée de Terre Ash gray Fasces with a rooster bearing an oak and laurel crown, all overlaped on four flags,
two bounded acanthus leaves beneath the whole
Silver
Écoles (Military academies) Sky blue Exploding grenade with multiple flames Gold
Autres unités (Other inter-army service units) Scarlet and daffodil Gold
Service de Santé de l'Armée de Terre (Health Service) Amaranth Fasces of 3 rods, a snake winding around the fasces and looking at the mirror at its top*,
the whole being surrounded by branches of oak (right) and laurel (left)
Gold
Service des essences (Fuel service) Red and green Two torches in saltire Gold
Service national (Conscription) Dark blue (inter-srvice units bordered in gray Nine-flame grenade Gold
Service des essences (Fuel service) Red and green Two torches in saltire Gold
Légion étra,ngère (Foreign Legion) Green and red Seven-flaem hollow granade Gold (silver for mounted troops)

*This is not a staff of Asclepius because of the three rods. The fasces are intended to represent the three health branches: medicine, surgery, pharmacy.

Corentin Chamboredon, 29 August 2015


 
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