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Arab Legion (Jordan)

(1923-1956)

Last modified: 2020-07-30 by ian macdonald
Keywords: canton (jordan) | triangle: hoist (red) | star: 7 points | swords: 2 (crossed) | crown: royal (green) | pennant |
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Introduction

"Al-Jaysh Al-Arabiy" literally means "Arab Army" and was originally the name of Prince Feisal's Hashemite force in the Arab Revolt of 1916-18. In 1920 it was reconstituted with the same Arabic name, but became known in English as the "Trans-Jordan Reserve Mobile Force." In 1923 it became the Arab Legion. On 1 Mar 1956 it became the Jordan Arab Army. (Note that, like the British Army, it is not "royal.") In British military usage, a "legion" does not connote size but rather a discrete permanent unit of mixed arms (typically infantry and cavalry/armour, and sometimes artillery.)
T. F. Mills, 08 Feb 2011


Arab Legion Flag c.1939

[Army Flag c.1939 (Jordan)] 1:2
by Calvin Paige Herring

[Flaggenbuch 1939 shows an Arab Legion flag which is exactly as the current Jordan army flag, but the emblem is smaller and in the lower fly.
Calvin Paige Herring, 06 Feb 1999


Commander of the Arab Legion Pennant c.1939

[Commander of the Arab Legion c.1939 (Jordan)] ~12:17
image by Ivan Sache and Eugene Ipavec, 20 May 2007

The construction sheet in [Flaggenbuch 1939 shows 40 cm for the vertical dimension of the flag, and 60 cm for the length of the oblique edge of the flag — not its horizontal dimension. Therefore, the horizontal/vertical proportion is the square root of 2, ca. 1,4142.
Ivan Sache, 11 Mar 2000


Colour of the Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb's 8th Battalion

On Ebay, a royal Jordanian gold-embroidered flag, bought from a soldier who was first to get to his majesty's home on the West Bank after the six-day war. It is in green and yellow, and has the royal emblem stitched in 14k gold!
William Garrison, 07 Feb 2011

Looking at past royal standards, the emblem seems to have consistently been a solitary crown; there doesn't seem to have been any examples of the crown over crossed scimitars within a wreath. On the other hand, a similar emblem (sans wreath) does appear on the flag of the Arab Legion and the Legion's badge had all 3 symbols- crown scimitars, and wreath. Furthermore, the flag of the Jordanian Army also has the crossed scimitars and crown and the emblem is a component of the flag of the Joint Services.
I think it is extremely likely that this is some sort of Royal Jordanian Land Force (i.e. Army) flag.
Ned Smith, 08 Feb 2011

The inscription across the face of the badge reads "Al-Jaysh Al-Arabiy," which is to say "Arab Legion." If the color in the photograph reflects fading, the field may well be a horizontal triband, red-white-red, which would be consistent with the format for a British formation flag for a corps. The size cited (32 x 46 inches) is roughly consistent with the size of a British colour. Bottom line: I think this is a headquarters flag of the Arab Legion, certainly (given the inscription) not a royal standard.
Joe McMillan, 08 Feb 2011

In keeping with the British origins and continuing traditions of the Jordan Arab Army, the sleeve and fringe suggest a Regimental Colour rather than a HQ flag.
Although the English name has changed, the Arab name has not. "Al-Jaysh Al-Arabiy" (al- Jeish al-Arabi) literally means "Arab Army" and was originally the name of Prince Feisal's Hashemite force in the Arab Revolt of 1916-18. In 1920 it was reconstituted with the same Arab name, but known in English as the Trans-Jordan Reserve Mobile Force. In 1923 it became the Arab Legion. On 1 Mar 1956 it became the Jordan Arab Army. (Note that, like the British Army, it is not "royal.") In British military usage, a "legion" does not connote size but rather a discrete permanent unit of mixed arms (typically infantry and cavalry/armour, and sometimes artillery.)
The badge on the flag is definitely that of the Jordan Arab Army, worn as a cap badge by all units. By 1967 the Jordan Arab Army had grown from about a brigade in WW2 to about 50 infantry battalions (regiments) and about a dozen armoured regiments. Infantry battalions also wear a metal shoulder title "al-Jeish al-Arabi" on a coloured shoulder strap loop, the pattern of which distinguishes the battalion.
The yellow-green-yellow triband of the flag is consistent with the shoulder strap loop of the 8th (Imam Ali Osama) Battalion. I don't know for certain, but I think the Regimental Colours and shoulder strap loops were/are identical in colour scheme. I have confirmed with an Arab speaker that the script reads "Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb's 8th Battalion." The Hashemite rulers of Jordan claim direct descent from the Prophet Mohammed. Many battalions of the Army are named for current and ancient members of that line. Ali was son-in-law of the Prophet and fourth Caliph.
In 1967 the 8th Battalion was based in Jerusalem with two other battalions of the Talal Brigade. This flag was then probably captured at its Regimental HQ by a unit of the Israeli Defence Force when they captured East Jerusalem from Jordanian forces. (Note that the vague and garbled oral history associated with this flag refers to the West Bank and not Amman.)
T. F. Mills, 08 and 15 Feb 2011


Colour of the 2nd Armoured Car Regiment (early 1950s)

The book "The Arab Legion" contains a b/w photo of the colour party of the 2nd Armoured Car Regiment [scan]. What can be seen from the photo is that the colour was of a dark colour charged with a crown over an unclear device over a scroll with inscription.
Source: Peter Young, The Arab Legion (1972), Men-at-arms Series, Reading (Osprey)
Marcus Schmöger, 19 Nov 2006


Colour of the 7th Infantry Regiment (1952)

[7th Infantry Regiment Flag, 1953 (Jordan)]
image by Eugene Ipavec and Željko Heimer, 27 Jul 2007

A colour plate in the book "The Arab Legion" [scan] shows the standard-bearer of the 7th Infantry Regiment in 1952. The image caption describes this as the "Regiment's Colour (el alam), old pattern." It seems to be green over white with white devices in the green field (including a crown, wreath and scroll).
Source: Peter Young, The Arab Legion (1972), Men-at-arms Series, Reading (Osprey)
Marcus Schmöger, 19 Nov 2006