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Civil Flag before 1964 (Malta)

Last modified: 2013-07-31 by rob raeside
Keywords: malta |
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[Civil Flag before 1964 (Malta)] 2:3 image by Željko Heimer, 19 October 2008

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 The flag is vertically divided into white (hoist) and red (fly). It has a blue canton with a white St. George’s Cross. I spotted this flag on 21 September on Luqa Airport advertised in a show-case of the Malta War Museum (see photographs here and detail of canton here). The flag was made of cotton, the partitions had been stitched, not printed. My default of ratio was that one of current flag, because the flag in the show case was of course nearly completely unfurled. I chose a square canton due to the shape of the cross. The cross is white without red fimbriation. That day was Maltese independence day. As I saw no such flag in the streets of Malta during the whole fortnight, I guess that it is an old version, not used today.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 14 October 2008

The information I have is that the vertical bicolour was not official before 1964, but was in unofficial use amongst the civil population as being "traditional". I can only assume that when the George Cross was granted to Malta in 1943 such unofficial use occasionally (if not usually) included the decoration which was, of course, always displayed (on both the arms and the Government Ensign) on a blue canton.
Christopher Southworth, 14 October 2008

The flag is most certainly an historical version of today's flag and is illustrated in colour on plate VIII of Campbell and Evans (1953) "The book of flags". On page 61 it is written:

Malta, G.C., which won its unique decoration through its heroic stand against the enemy in the recent war, has two flags. That of the Governor-General is the Blue Ensign with the island's badge in the fly: a shield divided vertically, white and red. The Maltese traditional flag, which takes the place of the Red Ensign, is similarly divided, white in the hoist and red in the fly: this is usually flown side by side with the British Union Flag. Until recently these colours were plain; but now in the white halves of shield and traditional flag, in the canton, appears the island's proud honour: The George Cross (Plate VIII, figure 8).
Although no mention is made of a blue canton in the text, the illustration shows one with the G.C in yellow, but I have always understood this to be white. Presumably flown then from ca 1953-1964?
Martin Grieve, 14 October 2008

It seems to have been a well kept secret. On 9 November 1954 HM Queen Elizabeth II approved the traditional red and white flag as an official flag of Malta. No formal announcement was made since the Maltese believed that the flag already had recognition in view of the number of ad hoc occasions on which it had been used. There was no reference to the George Cross canton.
[National Archives (PRO) ADM 1/25025]
David Prothero, 14 October 2008

Detail of canton

[Civil Flag - canton before 1964 (Malta)] image by Željko Heimer, 19 October 2008