The Red Ensign

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At the Start of our meetings or camps we usually raise the Red Ensign. For Sea Scouts, and other Maritime Organisations, The Red Ensign is used instead of the Union Flag (often known as the Union Jack). The Red Ensign is a Queens Colour and Should be treated on a par with the Union Flag, it should, for example, never be allowed to touch the floor, and should not be flown at night when it can not be seen. 

National Flags, or Ensigns as they are properly known, are worn and not flown.

Why do we wear the Red Ensign.

Once up on a time the Royal navy had three fleets – Red, Blue and White, each with its own Ensign. For some time they have been combined into just the one fleet, which uses the White Ensign (a Red Cross on a white background with a Union Flag in the upper hoist). The Blue Ensign is now used by certain approved Royal or National intuitions (e.g. the Coast Guard, Police Forces etc.). The Red Ensign is now used by the Merchant Navy and any other intuitions associated with the sea.

Those Sea Scout Groups, which have been Recognised by the Admiratily, are allowed to deface the Red Ensign with their own Symbol. The 89th Sea Scout Group are not currently recognised and so do not use a defaced Red Ensign.

Land scouts and other land based organisations, use the Union Flag (often, incorrectly known as the Union Jack) as their Queens Colour.

Most organisations will roll up the Union Flag, hoist it to the top of the flag pole and “break” it, so it flies.  With a Red Ensign, the Colours are raised, beforehand; attention is drawn to this important event by using a Bell or Boson’s call ( A special whistle used by the Boson on a ship to give commands over the noise of busy crew etc.). As it is the National Flag and representation of the Queen, it is saluted by many uniformed organisations.

The Red Ensign is often known as the Red Duster, as the Vessels that sailed under her, dusted the enemy of the Seas.