In the course of the 1920s and 1930s the French Army's system of command flags and pennants was modified, reflecting the changes in the organization of the Army since the end of World War I.

The four highest commanders all had flags based on the Tricolor. For the commander-in-chief, the flag's dimensions were 0.7 x 0.9 meters, with gold fringe and a white cravat. Army group commanders' flags were 0.5 x 0.65 meters, with gold fringe and a Tricolor cravat, flags for army commanders were the same but with no fringe, and flags for corps commanders were the same but with no fringe or 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.

Various changes were made to the flags of lower commanders and some new ones were introduced. For example, the command flags for the first, second and third divisions of an army corps were all abolished and commanders of infantry divisions were to use the flag previously allocated to divisions unassigned to an army corps. New flags were introduced for commanders of infantry brigades and armored brigades.

The construction of the Maginot Line along France's common border with Germany led to the creation of a whole new command structure, quite distinct from that of the field army. Fortified regions and fortified zones, analogous to corps and divisions respectively, had permanently assigned garrisons. New flags were introduced for all these command echelons. There were in addition the "interval troops": fortress infantry divisions and brigades. Commanders of the divisions used the infantry division flag, while brigade commanders has a forked version of the same.

There also existed rank flags for generals of division and generals of brigade. General of Division was the French Army's senior permanent rank, all those higher being appointments, e.g. a General of Army Corps was a General of Division appointed to a corps command. Thus there were no rank flags for these appointments.

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.




Commander-in-Chief    Commanding General of an Army Group


Commanding General
Army    Army Corps


Chief of Staff
Army Group    Army


Commanding General
Artillery or Engineers of an Army


Commanding General
Artillery or Engineers of an Army Corps


Commanding General    Infantry Division


Commanding General    Cavalry Division


Commander    Infantry Brigade


Commander    Cavalry Brigade


Commander    Armored Brigade


Commander    Artillery Brigade




Commanding General    Fortified Region


Commanding General    Fortified Zone


Commander    Fortress Brigade


Infantry Commander    Fortified Region


Artillery Commander    Fortified Region


Engineer Commander    Fortified Region




General of Division


General of Brigade

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