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Free French Naval Forces (1940-1944)

Forces Navales Françaises Libres (FNFL)

Last modified: 2011-11-11 by ivan sache
Keywords: free french naval forces | forces navales francaises libres | cross of lorraine (red) | de gaulle (charles) | muselier (emile) | letters: cg (red) | jack | combattante (la) |
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[FNFL ensign]

FNFL ensign - Image by Žejlko Heimer, 14 February 1997

See also:

Ensign of the FNFL

The ensign of the Forces Navales Françaises Libres (FNFL) is a Tricolore flag with a white lozenge in the middle, charged with a red Cross of Lorraine.

As reported in Album des Pavillons [pay00], modern ships that are named for a ship that joined the FNFL are allow to use the FNFL ensign as the honour jack.

Ivan Sache, 14 February 1997

Jack of the escort destroyer La Combattante

[Jack of La Combattante]

Jack of La Combattante - Image by Ivan Sache, 31 May 2003

The escort destroyer La Combattante, transferred by the Brits to the FNFL, patrolled the Channel from March 1943 onwards and joined the Normandy landing on 6 June 1944. She conveyed General de Gaulle for his first travel to liberated France on 14 June 1944. She blew up on a mine on 23 February 1945.

The jack, shown by L. Philippe (Franciae Vexilla [frv], #14/60, 1999) has the same pattern as the ensign of the FNFL, but is nearly square (2.10 m x 2.25 m - so the above square image is slightly incorrect). The height of the cross is 1.65 m while its longer horizontal arm is 1.05 m. The flag is preserved at the Museum of the Order of the Liberation (a section of the Army Museum, Hôtel des Invalides, Paris).

De Gaulle's landing took place on the western beach of Courseulles-sur-Mer, then in the Juno Beach sector (Anglo-Canadian sector). Since this was the most secured place at the time, it was used for the landings of Winston Churchill (12 June), General de Gaulle (14 June, on his way to Bayeux), and King George VI (16 June).
A big iron Cross of Lorraine was built on the landing place, and the flag of Free France flies on a pole near the cross. Near the beach, a stele bears the names of the crew members of La Combattante. A replica of the flag is flown below the Union Jack on a pole located behind the stele.

Ivan Sache, 31 May 2003

La Combattante was a British Hunt-class (Type 3) escort destroyer. It was completed on 27 April 1942 as HMS Haldon at the Fairfield shipyard on the Clyde, and was transferred to the French Navy in the same year. Two additional units of this class were supposed to be handed over to the FNLF but their transfer was never carried out. According to Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, La Combattante was torpedoed off the South Falls Bank by a German Seehund midget submarine on 23 February 1945.

Tom Gregg & Ian Sumner, 1 June 2003

Flag of General de Gaulle

[De Gaulle's ensign]

Flag of General de Gaulle - Image by Ivan Sache, 4 June 1999

The flag hoisted by the submarine Surcouf when de Gaulle visited a British harbour in 1942, shown by L. Philippe (Franciae Vexilla [frv], #14/60, 1999), is a tricolour with "optical proportions", and the red letters "CG" in the white stripe.
Short after, on 18 February 1942, the ship sunk near Panama shore after colliding with an American cargo boat.

Ivan Sache, 4 June 1999

Flag of Admiral Muselier

[Muselier's ensign]

Flag of Admiral Muselier - Image by Ivan Sache, 4 June 1999

Admiral Émile Muselier was one of the first high-rank officers to join De Gaulle. The flag, shown by L. Philippe (Franciae Vexilla [frv], #14/60, 1999), was vertically hoisted in his office in London and could also be used on board. Its most probable size was 0.9 m x 0.9 m.
The flag has a dark blue field with a red Cross of Lorraine and the worlds "HONNEUR" and "PATRIE", in gold letters, flanking the cross.

Ivan Sache, 4 June 1999