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Denmark Army flags

Last modified: 2014-05-29 by zoltán horváth
Keywords: denmark | scandinavian cross | dannebrog |
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Military Colours

[Kongens Livgarde (Royal Life Guard) regiment] image by Joe McMillan

Danish infantry units carry a regimentsfane or bataljonsfane. According to old files at the US Army Institute of Heraldry, this flag measures 105 x 140 cm, but pictures on the web and a news photograph I clipped from the Washington Post several years ago indicate a proportion of roughly 3:4 is actually in use. The flag is a variation of the Dannebrog, with a curvilinear white Dannebrog cross, set with its center about 1/2 the width of the hoist from the hoist edge. The royal cypher is embroidered in gold over the center of the cross, the unit badge in gold in the upper hoist, and the unit number and/or name in gold in the lower hoist. Some regiments have additional marks in the upper and lower fly. The Prince's Life Regiment, for instance, as Prince Henrik's cipher in the upper fly and the Queen Mother's in the lower, as it was formerly her "life regiment." The finial is an ornate gold openwork spearhead with the royal cypher in the center. Attached below the spearhead are one or more fanebander, lengths of red silk with gold fringe at each end, knotted around the pike, with the regiment's battle honors (name of battle and year) inscribed in gold. The color is decorated with a gold cord with two tassels and bordered with a thin strip of gold cord. The sleeve holding the color to the pike is attached with ornamental nails, the first three of which represent the sovereign, the Fatherland, and the Union. The color of the Den Kongelige Livgarde (Royal Life Guard) regiment is shown.

Cavalry (armor) units carry an estandart, of similar design to the infantry fane, but smaller and square, with the cross centered on the field. The royal cypher is in the upper hoist and the initials of the regiment in the lower hoist.

Principal source: Danish Battalion "Fane med Faneband".

Joe McMillan, 21 February 2002

Danish army company marker flag (1864 war)

[Chief of defense staff flag]  image by Edward Mooney, Jr.

This image was located at a site from the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin describing an exhibition on "Wahlverwandtschaft" or "Elective Affinity" between Germans and Scandinavians. From the page titled "War," describing the conflicts between Germans (or Prussians and Austrians) and Danes over Schleswig and Holstein, the dual duchies that were German in heritage but ruled by the Danish royal house. This image is named by the site "5danekl2.jpg" and appears to me to be some sort of Danish regimental flag. Can anyone confirm this?
Roger Moyer, 24 October 2000

Sort of. Yes, I think I saw similar flags at the museum at the "Danish wall", the dike build across the passable tracts of southern Jutland in the first millennium to protect it against invaders from the south, which was walled and otherwise improved several times during periods of conflict in the second millennium (usually by Danes, but on occasion also by Germans). The conflict at the end of the nineteenth century had a section of its own, and if I recall correctly I saw such a flag there. I believe the meaning of the characters could even be made out from the texts describing that period, but since I was there for interest in the site, rather than the flags I didn't make any notes about all of that.
Peter Hans van den Muijzenberg
, 28 December 2000

This is pretty much a guess, but it might be from the 9TH JAGER BATALLION, 2ND COMPANY. I'm certainly no authority on the Danish military, but I have a hunch that it'll be something similar to this.
Mike Richardson, 3 January 2001

This is a Danish army company marker from the 1864 war, containing the identification of the regiment and the company. Mike Richardson's suggestion as to what the letters and numbers stand for may well be correct, though I have not been able to confirm this.

The company markers were not considered proper colours - Dannebrog colours - by the Danish and were just left behind when the Danish troops retreated. Nevertheless the Prussians and Austrians took them and displayed them as trophies. The Prussians alone took about 65 of them. The company marker in the photo, for instance, was taken by the Prussians in the 1864 war and displayed in Berlin. Later this company marker was bought back to Denmark at auction and it is now in the collection of the Museet på Sønderborg Slot.

Inge Adriansen: "Dannebrog i traengselstider", in Hjermind, Jesper and Melgaard, Kristian (eds) (1995): Om Dannebrog jeg ved..., Viborg: Forlaget Viborg, p. 20.
Helge Bruhn (1949): Dannebrog og danske Faner gennem Tiderne, Copenhagen: Jespersen og Pios Forlag, 1949, p. 186-188.
Jan Oskar Engene, 3 January 2001

I asked one of my Danish colleagues, Steffen Jorgensen, formerly a captain in the Royal Danish Artillery, about this flag, and this is what he said: "I believe the colours are to be proper red and white, but age tends to make white textiles yellowish. In appearance the flag seems to be the mid 19th century company standard of 2nd Company 9th Jaeger Battalion. Jaegers were in 19th century rifle armed light troops specialised in open order combat, and today the name is carried on in the Danish and Norwegian armies in the Jaegercorps (Danish sp: Jœgerkorps) being crack special forces."
More information on the history of this unit and its flag will be forthcoming.
Theodore Leverett, 3 January 2001

I've researched your flag question, and it seems a little more complicated that first thought. First, the flag isn't official, but could be a company marker designed with inspiration from the official regimental flags, but produced on the initiative and expense of the unit (not uncommon - I also had a marker and a crest too made for the battery I was in command of).

Second there apparently wasn't a 9th Jaeger Battalion by 1864, but it could be the company marker from an old unit taken with into the new unit, or it could belong to the 19th Jaeger battalion (a "1" figure having fallen off?) which was the number of one of the voluntary Jaeger formations.

About Danish military flags I think the best available source in English would be the Osprey series on Napoleonic flags. In 17/18th century and until 1842 regimental flags usually looked much like the British, i.e. a small "Dannebrog" in the upper corner nearest the pole. The flag itself would usually be coloured in the Regimental distinction colour, and with the Regimental crest in centre. On each of the sides, in centre, there would be a flame, in white or yellow.

In 1842 Dannebrog-flags in shape similar to that you had a picture of was issued, and this is still the design for Danish Regimental flags.
Steffen Jorgenson, 11 January 2001

Initially I was sure that it had belonged to a 9. Jaeger Battalion (JB), but there wasn't any units of that name in either 1848-51 or in 1864, but I found and read quite
a lot of interesting books. Your question remained unanswered though, and I had to call for help. In my best German I wrote to the museum in Berlin, and apparently it was understandable enough for them to write a very kind and detailed answer (from the leader of the militaria collection - Klaus-Peter Merta).

The flag was a company marker (60x71,5cm, cotton), and belonged to the 2nd Company, 9th Infantry Battalion. The "J" in "JB" actually was an "I" (originally "J" and "I" were identical letters in many European languages, but I had forgotten that) and thus meant Infantry Battalion. The marker was lost in the battle of Dybbøl (Düppel, German sp.) near Sønderborg in current Denmark on 18th of April 1864. The Danish main army had withdrawn from a position further south (Dannevirke, at Schleswig town) and had taken a position at Dybbøl on the peninsula of Sundeved, to be a flank threat to any German (incl. Austrians and Schleswig-Holsteiners) forces moving north. That trick had worked splendidly in earlier wars, and the position was even reinforced by earth ramparts and dug-outs. Against the earlier smooth bore cannons the field fortifications would have provided excellent protection, but now the Germans had a large number of modern rifled guns, and from outside the range of the old-fashioned Danish smooth bore artillery, they could through a week-long bombardment literally wear down the ramparts, guns and shelters. On 18th of April the position was successfully stormed, and both company markers of 2nd Company, 9th Infantry Battalion were taken, One of the Danish marker bearers was killed. The Markers were taken by the 10th Company of the Brandenburgisches Füsilierregimentes Nr. 35 (Prussian Army), but the main part of the Danish army succeeded in extricating itself before being surrounded, by a valiant counterattack by the 9th Brigade. The Army thereafter withdrew to the small island of Alsen (I have once been stationed there in my Army time). From here the Danish army would still be a flank threat, as the strait (and the sea around North Germany) was controlled by the Danish navy. At Alsen Strait the steam-powered and turreted iron clad Rolf Krake patrolled, but somehow she managed not to be there the morning the Germans crossed the strait (very narrow - 200-500 yds.) and surprised the Danish forces. After this all Jutland was occupied and resistance really became hopeless and an armistice was negotiated whereby Prussia got all Schleswig-Holstein. The Danish speaking northern parts came back in 1920, but the defeat in 1864 gave Danish foreign policy a rather fatalistic and reactive aura, that only now is diminishing .
Steffen Jorgenson
, 27 January 2001

Infirmary Flags

[Infirmary flag] image by Ole Andersen

Walbom-Pramvig (1988) (p. 125) shows the green infirmary flag [Danish: lazaretflag], used by the army medical corps in both Schleswig Wars [OA: 1848-50 and 1864] until superseded by the Geneva Cross, the "Red Cross".
Ole Andersen, 2 August 2002

Gaza Peace-Keeping Flag

[Gaza Peace-Keeping Flag] image located by Bill Garrison, 29 January 2009

Shown on EBay as a Danish army Gaza peace-keeping flag UN souvenir:

A traditional item from the Danish army. It is customary for a Danish soldier, upon the completion of his military service to have one of these made. I don't know if they are kitshop items or if they are official. At any rate, over a Danish [splitflag] they list their name, regimental number and regiment along with the dates of service. I have seen these date back to 1937. This little flag is just 8 1/4" long. It is silk-like, either silk or synthetic. Note that it has a hole in each corner from where the fellow no doubt poked a desk top flag pole through it.

Mr. Nielsen was with Moller Company of the 4th Batallion, Danor contingent, the combined Danish Norwegian force that was on peacekeeping duty in the Gaza in 1959. His Regimental number is 232550/54. 1954 likely being the year he joined.
Bill Garrison, 29 January 2009