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The French Army's system of command flags and pennants seems to have originated in Algeria during the colonial wars of the nineteenth century. By 1914, the flags illustrated below were in general use. In 1933 the system was modified, reflecting the changes in the organization of the Army since the end of World War I.

The three highest commanders all had flags based on the Tricolor. For commanding generals of army groups, the flag's dimensions were 0.7 x 0.9 meters, and it was displayed with a tricolor cravat. Army commanders' flags were 0.5 x 0.65 meters, also with cravat, and flags for army corps commanders were the same but with no cravat. The flag for a chief of staff of an army group or army was 0.7 x 0.75 meters with Tricolor cravat. All the other flags were 0.5 x 0.65 meters.

By regulation, a command flag was supposed to mark the location of the commander at all times, being posted in front of his headquarters, carried behind him by an NCO when he was on foot or horseback, or displayed on the vehicle in which he was traveling. At night, the flag was supposed to be replaced with a lantern whose colored glass followed its pattern. In practice, from 1914 on, they were used mainly as car flags and on ceremonial occasions. Similar command flags are still used by the French Army today for ceremonies such as the Bastille Day parade in Paris.

Credit: These drawings are based on images and information contributed to FOTW by Ivan Sache.


Commanding General
Army Group    Army    Army Corps


Chief of Staff
Army Group    Army


Commanding General
First Infantry Division of an Army Corps


Commanding General
Second Infantry Division of an Army Corps


Commanding General
Third Infantry Division of an Army Corps


Commanding General
Infantry Division Unassigned to an Army Corps


Commanding General    Artillery or Engineers of an Army


Commander    Cavalry Brigade of an Army Corps


Commander    Artillery Brigade of an Army Corps


Commanding General    Group of Cavalry Divisions


Commanding General    Cavalry Division

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