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leslie's guiding traditions

Sea Ranger Burgees

"For the purpose of identification at regattas, etc., Sea Ranger Ships fly a PENNANT (a small flag ending in a point) with the ship's name embroidered in white on it.

A BURGEE is a small flag, ending in a point or a swallow-tail. If it ends in a point, it is, in mercantile language, "a pennant"; but among yacht clubs, each of which adopts one as a distinguishing mark, the Burgee is almost always pointed, those of a commodore being swallow-tailed.

SEA RANGER BURGEES have come into use for flying out-of-doors or for carrying on ceremonial occasions. The BURGEES are swallow-tailed, and measure 36 inches long by 30 inches at the hoist and 27 inches at the fly, and are divided into quarters showing the following details.

1) Sea Ranger Ships (trefoil, blue on gold, world trefoil design. Sea Guide Ships (trefoil, gold on blue, world trefoil design.

2) Division badge.

3) County badge.

4) Ship's emblem.

A motto band (black with gold letters) runs horizontally between 1 and 2, and 3 and 4.

Division Badge - If a Division has not got an emblem, the Division Commissioner should be consulted before the design is settled.

SHIP'S EMBLEM - Ships should not be used as emblems, as they are not sufficiently distinctive. The Admiralty are being very kind in allowing Sea Ranger and Sea Guide crews who have adopted the name of one of H.M. ships to use the Moto and badge of that ship, but permission to do so must be first obtained from The Secretary, Ships' Badge Committee, The Admiralty, Whitehall, London. The correct colouring of the badge should be asked for.

Sea Ranger or Sea Guide Crews adopting the names of ships of the Merchant Service or any other kind of craft should obtain permission before using any badge or emblem which is the special prerogative of that craft.

Lone or 'Old Guide' ships should use the 'Galleon' (obtainable on application to the Sea Ranger Heraldry Adviser) for their division emblem. The galleon should sail away from the hoist.

As far as possible, it is hoped that the background of either '3' or '4' should be 'barry-wavy' blue and white to represent the sea.

To make quite sure the design is correct in all details, Sea Ranger and Sea Guide Crews are asked to submit their design to the Sea Ranger Heraldry Adviser (address obtainable on application to Imperial Headquarters). The full size drawing of the design will be sent to the Assistant Commissioner for Rangers (Sea Rangers) for final passing.

All flags and burgees have to follow certain heraldic rules, the main ones are: Colour may not lie on colour (red on blue, etc), or metal (gold, silver, white), lie on metal. All emblems (except ships) must face the hoist (on both sides of the burgee). Any object that is of natural ('proper') colours (trees, animals, etc.) can lie on any colour background.

It is particularly requested that burgees should not cost more than 10s. 6d. and that really serviceable material be used. Mercerised poplin is very good, as it is usually guaranteed fadeless and fast colour, and does not fray or shrink. Burgees should be made of single material with the emblems embroidered (or appliqued) back to back on it. The motto band is double and should show the Ship's motto on the front and the Ship's name on the back. The whole should slope from the top and bottom to the fly."

from "Sea Sense" (Sea Ranger Handbook) - 1938 Edition.

Land Ranger units carried the same style of flags as Guide units did - so up until the 1930s, their flags showed the then First Class badge, but with the centre part with the badge in the Ranger red colours rather than the Guide green colours - and their flag trefoil had red enamel.

When UK Guide Flags changed from portraying the First Class Badge in the early 1930s, to being based on the World Flag, there were instances of Ranger Flags where the trefoil was shown in red, rather than in blue. It isn't currently clear whether this was widespread, or for how long it was done.

Another distinguishing feature between a Ranger Unit's flag and a Guide Unit's flag was the trefoil finial, with it's red enamel for Land Rangers. (Finials were also available with dark blue enamel for Sea Rangers, and light blue for Air Rangers). There are also examples of flag trefoils painted in Cadet colours - with white paint in the centre of the trefoil and on the scroll, and dark blue paint on the edges and their indentations.

And from 1968 onwards, all new flags featured a trefoil with aquamarine enamel (sometimes, homemade versions were created by adapting a Guide flag finial, as has been done in this instance).

Although Ranger Units were equally encouraged to make their own flags, to designs and with materials which fit heraldry rules. This was often done as a unit project - to first create a design using heraldry rules, then to submit it to the flag authorities in order to get clearance, followed by the work of actually making the flag, which would be double-sided, in appropriate materials.  

When new-style flags for all sections were introduced in 2014, it brought a new, distinctive design for Ranger Unit flags. These were printed on a silky fabric, meaning they were easier to manage in wet weather than bunting. Another advantage of printing was the reduced costs - where older Guide Flags had applique, there was a charge of £3 per letter for each letter of the unit name - which could start to become expensive if a unit had a long name - for instance, "1st Laindon Harlequin Rangers" would have had to pay £78 for the lettering along on an older-style flag!