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Belgium: Military Colours and Standards

Last modified: 2004-12-22 by ivan sache
Keywords: military colour | military standard | croix de guerre |
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For all the flags described below, a gold fringe 5 cm wide is attached.
The staff is black, in two pieces with a brass joint, and topped by a 15 cm (7.5 cm on fanions) gilt bronze finial consisting of an ionic column surrounded by an oak and laurel wreath supporting a rectangular platform.
On the longer sides of the platform, the national motto and unit designation are inscribed in French (L'Union fait la force) on one side and in Dutch (Eendracht maakt Macht) on the other.
On the ends are the initials of the monarch presenting the color.
Atop the platform is a rampant lion of Brabant.

Unit decorations are attached below the finial, as is a 1.5 m (for drapeaux) gold cord and tassels, tied around the staff at the middle, with the ends of the cord tied in a knot halfway down their length.


  • Luc A. Lecleir, Emblemen en Eervolle Vermeldingen van de Eenheden (Brussels: Dienst Geschiedenis, 1972)
  • Belgium File, U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002


Infantry units

Infantry units have a drapeau / vlag, a square vertical tricolor of black, yellow, and red within a 15 mm wide gold border, the whole being 90 cm square. The names of actions for which the unit was cited in the orders of the Belgian Army are embroidered in gold in French on the obverse and in Dutch on the reverse, in straight lines.

[1st of Line, reverse][1st of Line, obverse]by Joe McMillan

Example: First Regiment of the Line, obverse and reverse of the flag

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002

Cavalry and Artillery units

Cavalry and artillery regiments carry an étendard / vaandel. The same pattern as above, but 80 cm square.

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002

Cyclist and Engineers units

Cyclist and Engineers units have a fanion / wimpel, again the same pattern, but 70 cm square.

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002


Navy units have a drapeau / vlag, as for the infantry, with the exception that the top inscription is MARINE BELGE on the obverse and BELGISCHE MARINE on the reverse (formerly FORCE NAVALE and ZEEMACHT).

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002

[Navy standard]by Joe McMillan

According to Léon Nyssen (Flaggenkurier [dfk] (1995), available online), the standard (étendard / vaandel), of the Navy was granted by Prince Regent Charles on 15 June 1946. It is the national tricolor in 77 x 88 cm dimensions, with the name of the service (Force Navale) and the places and dates of actions in which Belgian seamen distinguished themselves during the Second World War inscribed in French in straight lines of gold block letters. The medal of the Croix de Guerre (1939-1945) with palm appears in the upper hoist. The field is bordered by a narrow gold strip all around; in addition, there is gold fringe along the three free sides of the flag.

Nyssen does not say so, but normal Belgian practice would be for the flag to carry the same information on the reverse in Dutch, the name in Dutch at the time the flag was granted being Zeemacht. It is not clear to me whether the actual Croix de Guerre medal is pinned to the flag or if its design is embroidered onto the field. Nyssen shows it set diagonally and I have followed that example.

Joe McMillan, 4 December 2003

Air Force

Air Force units carry a flag known as a fanion / wimpel, but 80 cm square like an army étendard / vaandel. Otherwise the same design.

Joe McMillan, 2 February 2002