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Croatia - Historical Military Flags

Last modified: 2010-04-16 by dov gutterman
Keywords: croatia | military | osijek | vukovar | bjelovar | st. stephen | crown | hussar | karlovac |
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Standard of the Military Border Hussar Troop of the Karlovac Regiment (1746-1749)

from Croatian History Museum site by courtesy of Jelena Borosak Marijanovic

Standard of the Military Border Hussar Troop of the Karlovac Regiment Austrian (Hapsburg) lands 1746-1749
Yellow silk damask, braids, flat stitch embroidery with silk and silver metal thread, fluted wood, silvered finial
55 x 88 cm, staff length 299 cm

Double-edged cavalry standard richly embroidered and edged with fringes. Obverse: in the centre of the field, richly decorated with floral motifs, is the embroidered Austrian dynastic coat of arms. Reverse: the field holds an embroidered medallion in the Baroque manner, depicting a set of Roman military trophies. The flagstaff, fluted like a tournament lance, ends in a finial, which has on one side the incised coat of arms of the Prince of Sachsen Hildburgshausen, and on the other the figure of St John Nepomucene. The standard was donated by the parish office of Slunj.
Bigger images at <> and <m012601v.jpg>.
J. Borosak-Marijanovic, Zastave kroz stoljeca, Zagreb, 1996, catalogue number 52, page 121

Flag of the Croatian Central Bransk Troops During Napoleonic Wars (1797)

This is a cavalry guidon of Croatian domobran ("home-defenders") comapany. The reverse show in the pannel the Hungarian corwn sitting on a red cussion. The flag was supposedly originally red, but the colour seems faded away.
Željko Heimer , 16 March 2000

Flag of the Imperial Royal Hungaro-Croatian Home Guard Regiment (after 1868)

from Croatian History Museum site by courtesy of Jelena Borosak Marijanovic

From Croatian History Museum site by courtesy of Jelena Borosak Marijanovic:
Flag of the Imperial Royal Hungaro-Croatian Home Guard Regiment with streamer made after 1868
White silk, multicoloured silk embroidery, wood, brass, embroidery;
128 x 136 cm, length of staff 299 cm
Rectangular flag with a border of alternating triangles in the colours of the Croatian tricolour. Obverse: in the centre of the field the coat of arms of the Hungarian crown lands surmounted by the Crown of St Stephen; the coat of arms is held by two angels. Reverse: in the centre of the field the embroidered initials of the ruler FJ I (Francis Joseph I), surmounted by the Hungarian crown. The flagstaff ends with a finial decorated on one side with the Hungarian coat of arms, and on the other by the initials of Francis Joseph I. The year 1874 is engraved on the staff. The flag belonged to the 84th Bjelovar Regiment. [Bigger images at <> and <m013201v.jpg>].

Blue silk, tassels, gilt metal tassels, silk embroidery, gold embroidery length of bands: a) 120 cm, b) 160 cm; width 20 cm
Streamer with two bands in the centre, fashioned into a loop with a rosette and a bought cord with tassels for tying it to the staff. The inscriptions on the bands: Ljudevita Grofica Jankovic Montbel with family coats of arms on the end of the band; Bog, Kralj i Dom!; Sreca i pobjeda; Belovarskoj 84. domobranskoj ceti with the coat of arms of the town of Bjelovar.
J. Borosak-Marijanovic, Zastave kroz stoljeca, Zagreb, 1996, page 127.

Flag of the 369th Infantry Regiment of the Independent State of Croatia (WWII)

by Željko Heimer (based on a photo from the Croatian History Museum)

by Željko Heimer (based on a photo from the Croatian History Museum)

From Croatian History Museum site by courtesy of Jelena Borosak Marijanovic:
Flag of the 369th Infantry Regiment of the Independent State of Croatia:
Silk rep, multicoloured relief silk embroidery and gold embroidery, accessories, wood
85 x 120 cm; length of staff 230 cm
Rectangular flag, the obverse in the colours of the Croatian tricolour, the reverse in golden-white silk. Obverse: a Croatian tricolour edged with a silver border with small red, white and blue triangular flames. The centre of the field holds the state coat of arms. Above the coat of arms, in the red field, the inscription reads: STO BOG DA, while the inscription in the blue field reads: I SRECA JUNACKA. The top corner near the staff holds the number of the regiment: 369. Reverse: the centre of the field holds the monogram AP (Ante Pavelic) embroidered in dark red. The embroidered inscription around the monogram reads: ZA POGLAVNIKA I ZA DOM. The flagstaff is simple, and the finial has not been preserved.
Bigger images at <> and <m013601v.jpg>.
J. Borosak-Marijanovic, Zastave kroz stoljeca, Zagreb, 1996, page 128, 129.

What seems odd to me is the high number assigned--somehow I doubt that there were 368 other regiments in the FSC army. It may be that the regiment was actually carried on the German establishment as a volunteer formation. It wouldn't have been at all unusual four such a unit to have a distinctive "national" color, even if its troops did wear German uniform.
Tom Gregg, 30 September 1999

Possibly, but both of us are guessing... However, there might be that the practice was (as it is today in Croatia, BTW) that each "type" of units would have similar numbers, and not necesserily all numbers be filled. Comparing with today (imagining numbers for I do not know them exactly), and armoured battalion would be (say) 671th through 679th, while there'd be no other units with numbers of 600 through 700.
Željko Heimer, 4 October 1999

I checked "Axis Forces in Yugoslavia 1941-5" , and together with "Flags of the Third Reich; 2: Waffen-SS" (Brian L. Davis,  (Men-at-arms series, no. 274), Osprey Publishing, 1994.) it has the answer I think.
From the first source I quote from the chapter "Germany" (note that "Croatia" about the Croatian Army and the Ustasha Army is another chapter!):
"Unwilling to divert front-line units from Russia to Yugoslavia, the German high Command explored local sources of manpower. In August 1942, the 369th Infantry Division, the 'Devils Division', was established as a Legionary Division with Croatian troops under a german cadre. It had two infantry regiments (369 and 370), an artillery regiment (369), anti-tank, reconnaissance, engineer  and signal battalions. 369 Infantry Regiment and 1st Battalion, 369 Artillery Regiment, formed earlier 1941, served as the Croatian Legion in Russia. It was replaced in the Division by the 969 Infantry Regiment and 969 Artillery Battalion. These unites adopted their predecessors' numbers when the Croatian Legion was destroyed at Stalingrad in December 1942. In January 1943 a second Legionary Division, the 373 'Tiger Division', was formed."

From the second source I quote (just the relevant parts not in the first source):
"Of the three Croat infantry divisions raised by the Germans - the 369th ('Devils Division' - Vrazja Divizija), the 373rd ('Tiger Division' - Tigar Divizija) and the 392nd ('Blue Division' - Plava Divizija, not to be confued with the Spanish 'Blue Division') - only the 369th played any significant role in these vicious anti-partisan operations. The 'Devils Division' received their special Colour during a ceremony held in Croatia on 16 May 1944."

Conclusion: it wasn't the 369th Infantry Regiment of the Independent State of Croatia, but of the German Waffen-SS. I think this makes more sense, although I know nothing about the structure of the Waffen-SS or any other armies.
Mark Sensen, 5 October 1999

The only additional comment I'd add is that the 369th ID wasn't on the "Waffen-SS" establishment.It was, rather, as its number indicates, on the German Army establishment.
Tom Gregg, 5 October 1999

The inscription on the flag are (obverse) "By the Grace of God and the Deeds of Heros," and (reverse) "For the leader and Fatherland."
The 369 Inf.Rgt. , like the 369, 373, and 392nd were indeed German formations with Croatian troops and was not Croatian Army (Domobran) or Waffen-SS. The Regiment was formed soon after the order to do so was given on July 2, 1941 as an all volunteer force which was sent to the Eastern Front as part of the 100th Mountain Division, where it was destroyed at Stalingrad. The flag in question may have been awarded to the unit in July 1941, although I have seen no photographic evidence of the flag when the unit was reviewed by "Poglavnik" (Leader) Ante Paveli in Zagreb or by Croatian Field Marshal Slavko Kvaternik that Fall. The exact flag in the photograph may have been issued or reissued to the "second" 369 Rgt. (Grenadier Regiment) which was the "tradition bearer" of the first unit and which had "first" 369 Inf.Rgt. soldiers who, usually wounded, had been evacuated before it was destroyed at Stalingrad.
The "second" 369 Gren.Rgt. was formed in September 1942 and trained in Dollersheim (now Austria) under the command of Oberst (Col) Fritz Neidholt (Brigadier as of October 1, 1942). The 369 Gren.Rgt. became the foundation of the 369 Infantry Division formed on December 18, 1942, which was followed by the 373rd and 392nd Inf.Div.s, all with Croatian troops and German, as well as some Croatian officers. In addition to the 369 Gren.Rgt. , within the 369 Inf.Div., were found the 370 Gren.Rgt. ; the 369 Recon Section 369 Art. R.; 369 Armored-Ranger Section; 369 Engineer Bn.; the 369 Communications Section; and the 369 Field Reserve Bn. Any or all may have had some form of this flag. The official 369 Inf. Div. flag was not presented until May 16, 1944. It had the same "AP" reverse as the flag pictured. I have never seen the obverse.
Most of the information above is from F. Schraml's "Kriegsschauplatz Kroatien" (Neckargem?nd, Germany: Kurt Vowinckel Verlag, 1962) the definitive history of the three divisions with an excellent picture of the 369th flag on parade (p. 48A) being held by its commander, Oberst Fischer in German uniform with Croatian sleeve insignia. This photo was taken in late 1942 and the flag may well be a reproduction of the first which, if it went to Stalingrad, could not have come back. Since the flag only has the number "369" and no notation of "Inf." or "Gren." whether this is the original or not is unknown.
Michael McAdams, 4 July 2000

In the catalogue of the exhibition of flags held in 1996, it is indeed stated that the flag in question is made only in 1943, after the new regulations on unit flags was issed on 4-MAY-1943 and new flags were authorized (granted) by Poglavnik.
I have not seen the regulations (but it should be available published in the official gazette of 1943), and I do not know how much different that flag is from flags previously granted. It may even possibly be that the flag was given to the unit in 1944.
The note in the description of the flag in the catalogue mentiones that the enchanced 369 Infantry Regiment was formed in the beginning of July 1941 with headquarters in Karlovac.
I am reffering to 369 Inf. Reg. for "369. pjesacka pukovnija" in Croatian, being the only unit name mentioned in this context I encountered. I am not sure what would "grenadier regiment" equivalent be in Croatian, not infantry division (unless be it "pjesacka divizija", that I have not encountered with either).
Željko Heimer, 5 July 2000

Flag of the Italian Legion (WWII)

The flag of the little-known Italian Legion, which drove trucks on the Eastern Front was the standard red-white-blue with 25 field chessboard, bordered in gold in the center. Above the shield, in the red was the ancient crown of the Croatian Kingdom (Crown of King Zvonimir), since Italy appointed its own "king" of Croatia. The crown is unique with a rounded shape and "sideburns" more like a Roman helmet. To left and right of the shield are fasces, blades out, and the motto "Bog i Hrvati" ("God and the Croats"). The entire flag was bordered with red, white, and blue triangles like the 369 flag and the Poglavnik's flag. The reverse had the letter "U" for "Ustasha" (Revolutionary) Party surrounded by braid of three strands. It also had the fasces and an inscription starting with "Za D om Spremni" (For the Homeland Ready). Attached to the top of the flag was a streamer, color unknown
Michael McAdams, 4 July 2000

"Lako Prevozni Zdrug" means Light Transportation Company, though I'm not sure the company is the right translation for that unit level (I'm not familiar with Croatian military terminology of WWII).
Željko Heimer, 5 July 2000

I've uploaded some photos of the standard used by the Croatian volunteers in the Italian Army (WW2) here.
Marcus Wendel, 28 April 2008

Croatia International Brigades (1991)

Recently it was reported to me about a flag of the Croatia International Brigades (in spanish "Brigadas Internacionales de Croacia"), led by a Spanish named Rosa Flores. According to an interview with Flores, who command the forces that defend Osijek, in first line, after the fall of Vukovar. My correspondant qualified Brigades of fascist people (but also serbians qualified fascist).
The flag is yellow-ochre (golden) with a larger black emblem in center. The emblem is unknown
Jaume Olle', 24 September 1999

10th ZNG Brigade (1991)

An article describes and pictures the streamers used at the national flags granted to the rigades paraded on 28 May 1991 at the FK Zagreb Stadium in Kranjceviceva Street in Zagreb - this being considered the begining of the modern Croatian defence forces.
I have serious doubts that the two streamers preserved in the Military Museums were ever actually used - I believe that they have been prepared to be granted at the parade as for preceeding 9 brigades, but they were not granted at the event (and so were preserved somewhere and finally ended up in the Military Museum). However, the full history of these flags and streamers is still not enlighted.
Željko Heimer, 3 August 2009

77th Independent Battalion of ZNG - Grubišno polje (1991)

Since the previous numbers the Croatian military weekly magazine started as short series of articles about the military units flags (colours) from the collection of the Military Museum in Zagreb, prepared by yours truly.
From Hrvatski vojnik, br. 281, February 2010 at <>, my translation:
"77th Independent Battalion of ZNG - Grubišno polje
The Crisis Staff of Grubišno Polje decided on its session of 14 August 1991 on formation of an independent battalion, and thus on 26 September 1991 the 57th Independent Battalion of ZNG was formed. The battalion is active in actions on Bilogora, the operation "Otkos 10" on 31 October 1991 on its southern and south-western directions. It is engaged there until 4 November 1991. On 5 December 1991 it is engaged in the operation "Ledina" on the Papuk mountains advancing towards Daruvar. In the village of Bastajski Brdani it destroys a paramilitary unit of White Eagles and on 25 December 1991, together with other units, it takes the line Pakrac-Bucje-Požega. On the same day it was renamed 77th Independent Battalion and under that name it is active until the arrival of UNPROFOR, when it was disbanded.
The Battaliuon flag is in fact an "upgraded" flag of the Republic of Croatia, with yellow inscriptions printed on it. In the red stripe next to the hoist is inscribed 77. SAMOSTALNI, and in the fly "BILOGORA" "91, and in the blue stripe at hoist BATALJUN, and in fly in two rows GRUBIŠNO / POLJE. The inscription in the fly is somewhat damaged due to the wear of material. The flag is sized to ca. 100200 cm. Along the fly is yellow fringe, ca. 2 cm in length. The flag sleave is made of folded tricolour material of the flag field.
The flag was manufactured in 1991, probably using the previously produced national flag, consisting of three sewn stripes with printed state arms application over them on both sides.
This is an example of rarely preserved flags from the very begining of the Homeland War, when they were being produced with ad hoc materials, usually simply by adding inscriptions and symbols to the state flag. Since the conditions did not alow for putting the unit symbols on the flag, here we have only the inscriptions. So far, only three flags from the Homeland War of this type are recorded, although it is highly probable there are more. These others may have been preserved as valuable memorabilia by the soldiers who made them or fought under them in the first days of the war. Such flags were soon replaced with differently designed flags, when the idea that such defacement of the national flag is not allowed by the legislation."
Photo by Branimir Šenk is here.
Željko Heimer, 17 March 2010

6th Home Defense Regiment (1992-2000)

Since the previous numbers the Croatian military weekly magazine started as short series of articles about the military units flags (colours) from the collection of the Military Museum in Zagreb, prepared by yours truly.
The previous week's issue is at <>. In my translation the text says:
"6th Home Defense Regiment (6. domobranska pukovnija
The unit was established by the Presidential Decision of 26th May 1992 as the 6th Home Defense Regiment "R" - Split. It was restructured under the same name on 27th July 1994, and was active formally until 18th January 2000.
The flag of the Regiment is a black flag with a red square in each corner bordered white on the inner sides and a yellow border all around the black field. In the middle is a black oval unit patch on which is printed on the golden bordered oval sign, along the inner edge above inscribed DOMOBRANSKA PUKOVNIJA, and below SPLIT, the inscriptions on both sides separated by golden wattle pattern. In the centre is set the white coat of arms of the city of Split: the rectangular shield framed with counter-compony picturing the north facade of the Diocletian's Palace, in its medieval appearance. Above the centre of the Palace is rising the tower of the Cathedral of St. Domnio (St. Dujam). In the upper corners of the shield are two coats of arms in semicircular shields: dexter chequy gules and argent, and sinister argent St. Domnio as bishop standing with his dexter raised in blessing and holding a crozier in his sinister. Above the city arms is golden figure 6. and below are the initials of the Croatian Army (HV). The size of the flag is ca. 80 160 cm. The flag sleeve is made of black cloth, the flag has no decorative fringe. Made in 1992 or 1993.
The main part of the emblem is the coat of arms of the city of Split, which basically comes from XIV. century, and in this form is used since 1991.
The central insignia is in the form of the patch that was made in Split in 1993 (Tudman: Hrvatsko ratno znakovlje 3, pp. 117-118), and a table flag of equal basic design was being produced (Tudman: Hrvatske ratne i vojne zastavice, p. 403). A new flag, which is rather faithful replica of the war-time flag (except for dimensions that were now standardized to 1 2 m), was produced in 2006 at the occasion of 15th Anniversary of CAF (Croatian Armed Forces), made in two copies, which are kept in the Military Museum in CAF General Staff, and are used for military ceremonies in stead of this irreplaceable original war flag, which is kept in the Military Museum."
Photo is here (unfortunately, the online version has the raw photo without the excess surrounding background cropped, the printed issue has the properly processed photo).
Željko Heimer, 22 February 2010

16th Artillery Battalion - Ploce (1993-1999)

Since the previous numbers the Croatian military weekly magazine started as short series of articles about the military units flags (colours) from the collection of the Military Museum in Zagreb, prepared by yours truly.
The current week issue is at <> In my translation the text says:
The unit was established by the Presidential Decision of 4th August 1993 and formally was active until 18 March 1999.
The Battalion flag is dark-purple with a yellow plastic emblem applied by thermo-printing in the shape of a semicircular shield with convex top edge. In the chief a tricolor arch, under it a black initials HV (for Croatian Army), and below it in the right two red squares in diagonal and one white. From the latter, along the edge of the sign to the opposite side is white bordered gold wattle pattern. In the centre of it a black gun, its battel runs diagonally the left of the header and partially covers it, and the back part of the cannon protrudes behind the wattle. Above the emblem, along the upper edge of the flag is sewn golden inscription 16. TOPNICKI DIVIZION. The flag size ca. 150 300 cm. The flag sleeve is made of the same material as the flag field. Along the three outer edges golden fringe 3 cm. The flag was probably made 1994. The emblem is made by E. Petric, Zagreb (Tudman: Hrvatsko ratno znakovlje 2, p. 224).
This unusually large flags (the usual size of unit flag in CAF is about 1 2 m) is representative of one of typical flag designs of CAF unit colours - monocoloured with the unit emblem and the inscription. Such design occurs in somewhat less than a third of flags from the Homeland War. Somewhat more than a third are monocoloured flags with unit emblem with no additional inscriptions, while all other types are represented by only the remaining third of flags. The purple flag field is very unusual and occurs in less than 10 of almost 200 flags from the Homeland War period."
Photo is here.
Željko Heimer, 22 February 2010

21st Home Defence Regiment - Krapina (1994-1999)

Since the previous numbers the Croatian military weekly magazine started as short series of articles about the military units flags (colours) from the collection of the Military Museum in Zagreb, prepared by yours truly.
From Hrvatski vojnik, br. 283, March 2010. at <>, my translation:
"21st Home Defence Regiment - Krapina
The Regiment was established with the Presidential Decree of 27 July 1994, and probably formed/mobilized on 1st September 1994 (as the date on the flag indicates) from the previous Independant Home Defence Company and other smaller units. It was disbanded on 17 September 1999, when it is inherited by the reserve 641st Infantry Brigade - Krapina.
The unit flag is blue, bordered with a double row of interlaced red and white squares. In the middle top is a golden bordered black disk including within a golden bordered triple wattle ornament a black shield. The shield depicts a gray figure of the Monument to the Croatian Anthem, between golden figures 2 and 1. and in the chief golden motto MI SMO TU NAVEK ("We are always here" in the local dialect), and in the base ZAGORSKA ("of the Zagorje region"). Under the shield is a white ribbon bordered red on it stop and blue onthe bottom inscribed in golden "domobranska pukovnija" (Home Defence Regiment). Under the disk is a tricolour ribbon with the coat of arms of Croatian in each end and the date in the middle 1. 9. 1994. The flag size is ca. 100200 cm. It does not have a flag sleave, but six white ribbons along the hoist edge.
The central element of the symbol is the Monument to the Croatian Anthem "Lijepa naša" written by Antun Mihanovic in place called Zelenjak on the road connecting Klanjec and Kumrovec. The monument was erected by the Brotherhood of Croatian Dragon Association on 24 November 1935 on the occasion of centenary of the anthem. This monument became not only a kind of a national symbol, but also a recognizable symbol of the Zagorje region.
The flag is unique in using the counter-compony border. The omitting of the fringe and the unusual hoisting method suggests that this item was used for hoisting on a mast rather then on a staff.
The flag was probably manufactured in 1994. The unit patch of the same circular design was produced in 1996."
Photo by Branimir Šenk is here.
Željko Heimer, 17 March 2010

Croatian Military Flags Published in Newspapers

I am working for quite some time on the topic of the Croatian military flags and therefore I was surprised to find (part of) them published in the national newspapers "Vecernji list" on 5 August 2009 (the day celebrating the victory of 1995, liberating larger parts of rebel-held Croatia in the action named Storm).
In the article, one can find the article titled "We publish the the coat of arms of the victorious units of the Croatian Army from the Storm"
The article is full of journalistic imprecissions - but the most interestng for us is that the published drawings are not "coats of arms", but the flags (for the most part), however, those flags that I call "symbolical war flags" (i.e. designs "invented" and produced in 2006 only, and nt in 1995 and before). I am pretty much confident that the source of these flag images are drawing of the flags prepared for the production of these flags by the flag makers company VIS Varazdin, probably the collection of those drawings from the Military Museum (or obtained directly from the flag makers?)
It may be interesting to know that all the drawings may be downloaded at once in RAR compressed file from <>.
The 2006 "symbolical war flags" are not replicas of the original flags used during the war, but "recreations" - as may be most notably seen on the flag of the 113th Brigade - compary the drawing (the only red flag on the abovementioned page), with the photo at the top of the page - they are obviously different. The photo there is taken from the journal's archive, and I believe it originates from some event prior to 2006, when the original flags were still being used (and as far as I can see no other flag shown on that photo matches any other unit flag shown in the drawings).
Željko Heimer, 6 August 2009

The web site at <> include a project of digitazing of the regional journal Glas Podravine, from its first issues in 1951.
- An article from 1996 includes a photo shows a military ceremony, with the flag of the 13th anti-armour rocket artillery battalion of the Croatian Army. This flag is today in the Military Museum.
Željko Heimer, 11 August 2009