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Swiss Army Flags

Last modified: 2024-05-25 by martin karner
Keywords: switzerland | army | military | military colours | military flags |
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[Military flag of Zürich canton] image by T.F. Mills

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Swiss Army Flags

According to Crampton "The Complete Guide to Flags", the Swiss army flag is "as national with gold fringe and cravat in the national colors" (p. 57).
Randy Young
, 11 February 2001

Concerning the colour system of Swiss army flags, like other modern armies who need fewer and fewer people today, the Swiss army has reduced its troop stocks in the recent reform which went into effect on January 1, 2004. Before, there were some sorts of troops (e.g. the infantry) which still had cantonal units. The name of the canton was written on one side of the flag, the unit designation on the other side. Additionally there was attached a cravat in cantonal colours (see T.F. Mills' notes on our Swiss cantons war and military flags page). After the reform there aren't any more enough people from each canton to build their own cantonal units. Now there are only federal units. The unit designation is written (in fact stitched) now on both sides of the flags and the cravat has the national colours. The discarded cantonal flags are stored now in the different cantonal armouries and the federal flags in the Federal Armoury in Bern. There are proposals for a museum for the old federal flags, and maybe also for the cantonal flags. For these informations I thank Mrs. Sturm from the Federal Armoury in Bern who is in charge of mending and storing the army flags.
Martin Karner, 8 July 2004

[Federal military flag (book illustration) according to the regulation from 1852. Confirming the first federal flag from 1841, the new regulation explicitly defined the form of the cross with the square arms (The bars being "three feet long and one foot wide"). As on the previous flag the name of the canton was applied in golden letters on the horizontal arm on both sides of the flag. The measurements of the cloth were now defined as 135x135 cm. And there was still a cravat in cantonal colours attached to the flag (The cravat was in national red-white when the units were mixed). (source: [ges43]) –
Federal military flag (reverse) according to the regulation from 1912. It continued the regulation of 1889, which defined the lenghth of the arms of the cross as one sixth longer than wide. The size of the cloth was reduced now to 110x110 cm, and the name of the military unit was placed now on the obverse, the canton's name still on the reverse (see obverse with uniform from 1940. Inscription: "FÜSILIER-BAT. 32"). The cravats in the cantonal colours (and red-white for mixed units) remained. (source: [ges43])]

See also:   History of the flag (Switzerland)

Modern military colours and standards

[Sample Swiss military colours] image by Joe McMillan

Infantry, engineer, medical, and rescue units of battalion size carry a Fahne/drapeau/bandiera (colour) while units of other branches have a Standarte/étendard/stendardo (standard).

A colour is the national flag, 1.1 meters square, with the title of the unit in gold Roman letters 65–75 mm high on the horizontal bar of the cross. The Fahne is nailed to a 2.7 m long staff, painted in a red and white spiral and topped with a spearhead 26.5 cm long. Below the spearhead is a cravat (Schleife) in red and white for Confederation units or in the cantonal colours for cantonal units. An example is displayed above.

A Standarte is similar but smaller, 60 x 60 cm, mounted with a sleeve on a 2.15 m staff red and white spiral staff with an 18.5 cm spearhead and a cravat in either Confederation or cantonal colours as appropriate. It is trimmed with fringe 47 mm wide in alternating red and white sections.

Source: Josef Inauer, ed., Schweizer Armee 99 (Frauenfeld: Huber, 1998)

Joe McMillan, 4 December 2003

Territorial Divisions

The Joint Operation Command of the Swiss Armed Force is composed of four Territorial Divisions (until 1 January 2018, Territorial Regions):
Division territoriale 1, headquartered in Morges, covers Geneva, Vaud, Valais, Fribourg, Neuchâtel, Jura, and Bern.
– Territorialdivision 2, headquartered in Aarau, covers Lucerne, Obwalden, Nidwalden, Solothurn, Basel Land, Basel Stadt, and Argau;
– Territorialdivision 3, headquartered in Altdorf, covers Uri, Schwyz, Zug, Graubünden and Ticino.
– Territorialdivision 4, headquartered in St. Gallen, covers Schaffhausen, Zurich, Thurgau, St. Gallen, Appenzell Ausserrhoden, Appenzell Innerrhoden, and Glarus.
Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019

Territorial division 1

[Swiss flag] image by Ivan Sache

The flag of Territorial Division 1, hoisted in Morges (Vaud) in front of its headquarters, is white with the division's emblem.

[It is highly probable that the the other divisions also have a white flag with their respective emblem, which is the same but the respective number and "Territorialdivision" instead of "Division territoriale", since they cover the German-speaking part of Switzerland.]
Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019

Brigade mécanisée 1

[BM flag] image by Ivan Sache

Brigade mécanisée 1, one of the units constituting the Land Forces of the Swiss Armed Forces, is composed of 6 Battalions and 1 Group.
The flag of Brigade mécanisée 1, hoisted in Morges in front of its headquarters, is white with the division's emblem.
The Latin motto reads "always loyal".
Ivan Sache, 4 December 2019