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Myanmar Ensigns

Burma

Last modified: 2019-01-04 by zachary harden
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Naval Ensign

[Naval Ensign of Myanmar] 1:2, by Željko Heimer

White flag with red canton with white star, and blue anchor in lower fly.
Željko Heimer, 1 July 2002

I have seen no current evidence of a Myanmar Merchant ensign or a Myanmar state ensign.  I spent quite a bit of time on the Ayeyarwaddy, Bago and Yangon rivers last week and was impressed by what I didn't see. There were two Myanmar Five Star Line ships anchored just west of Pansodan Jetty on the Yangon River in Yangon. Both ships were flying the Myanmar national flag as their ensign. One ship flew the Myanmar Five Star Line flag from its jack staff while the other flew the lines flag from its main mast starboard side. I saw several patrol boats and numerous barges and river ferries. The patrol boats flew nothing at all while the barges and river ferries also flew the Myanmar national flag.

The primary Myanmar flag maker I visited had no "supposed" merchant flags or state ensigns in stock, and as best as I could tell, had never seen a sample of either. I never actually saw a naval ensign flying from a ship, but the flag maker had several in stock. I took the attached photo. It measures 36" x 65" which roughly translates to the 5 to 9 proportional standard which applies to all Myanmar flags.

Clay Moss, 17 June 2003

With regard to the ensign I discovered for the first time [on my trip in 2002], it seems the flag is 1:2 and the anchor is in the corner.
Michel Lupant, 28 December 2003

A flag with a blue star in place of the anchor was reported in Franciae Vexillae, but this is now known to be an incorrect report.
Michel Lupant, 28 December 2003


Former ensigns

Ensigns from 1974-present (dubious)

[Flag of Myanmar] 5:9, by Željko Heimer, as reported in Album des Pavillons (2000)

White flag with red cross throughout and blue canton with white emblem. Neither Smith (1975), Smith (1982) nor Crampton (1990f) mention this flag; all of them designate the national flag as CSW/CSW. Therefore I speculate that this flag is recently (re-?)adopted. On the other hand, Album des Pavillons (1990) shows a series of other ensigns - civil, state and air - which are never corrected in subsequent corrections, but are now not shown in Album des Pavillons (2000). Therefore I guess that Armand du Payrat got no confirmation of these. Further, no other major vexillological work shows these ensigns, and I propose a theory that they actually never existed. There may have been such ensigns with the former (pre-1974) 1+5 stars flag as reported (actually I have no source on this, but that is only because I lack sources from period between 1939 and 1975). My theory is that after the emblem in canton was changed in 1974 someone supposed that it was done thus in all the flag variants and showed them so in Album des Pavillons (1990).
Željko Heimer, 30 June 2002

With this Burmese military video as my evidence (using the pre-2010 national flag) this naval flag is debunked as fiction. However, I am not certain when this video was first published.
Zachary Harden, 19 November 2018

[Possible Naval Ensign of Myanmar] by Željko Heimer

The naval ensign described above has never existed in real life. The real naval ensign, shown on photos on Jane's Fighting Ships, is a horizontal bicolour, sky blue over navy blue, with a white five-pointed star (half the width of the ensign) at the centre of the ensign.
Miles Li, 30 June 2002

Myanmar is a country from which reliable information is very difficult to obtain. Here is my evidence:

  1. the white ensign described in Album des Pavillons (2000) comes from Glen Hodgin's visit in October 1999 to the Myanmar ambassador in Sri-Lanka (a former admiral in Myanmar Navy).
  2. since then, Glen saw in Jane's a photo dated 1993 similar to the one described by Miles but red over blue, and the national flag used as jack.
  3. in Franciae Vexilla, Dec 2000, Jean Renault reported a naval ensign seen in 1999 on a river patrol boat: a white 5-pointed star on a red canton, a blue 5-pointed star on low fly on white field.
  4. Michel Lupant reported in May 2002 a naval ensign (photo taken by him in a naval headquarter), white 5-pointed star on red canton, blue anchor on low fly on white field.

I suppose this latter is the correct naval ensign today. It will be published as such in next oncoming corr 2 to Album des Pavillons.
Armand du Payrat, 1 July 2002

[Possible Naval Ensign of Myanmar] by Željko Heimer

A horizontal bicolour, red over navy blue, with a white five-pointed star. Both ensigns above are reported from Jane's Fighting Ships. Is it possible that one report is
wrong, or are there two different photos we are talking about? The second one was accompanied by the national flag as the jack.
Željko Heimer, 1 July 2002

I tend to believe the light blue/dark blue with a white star because of a photo published on Facebook 2016 by a Burmese naval officer, Thura Thet Swe. However, I am not certain when this photo was taken but I would assume post 1974.
Zachary Harden, 11 December 2018

1947-1974

[Former War Ensign of Myanmar] 5:9
Image by Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018

White ensign with arms in blue canton.

Ivan Sache, 29 January 1998

I have a 1954 edition of Jane's Fighting Ships, which shows three flags (in black and white line drawings) for Burma:

  1. The President's Standard: a peacock proper, in full plumage, centred on a saffron field (the colour of the field is noted in the text).
  2. The Naval Ensign: the canton is made up of six 5-pointed stars; white in colour, centred on a blue field. One of the stars is in the very centre of the field, and is much larger than the other 5, (roughly 2+ times the size of the others). All the stars are oriented with a single point up, and 2 points downward. The 5 smaller stars are placed around the large central star, at roughly the 1 o'clock, 4 o'clock, 6 o'clock, 8 o'clock, and 11 o'clock positions, (ie., centred in-between the 5 arms of the large central star). The rest of the ensign is identical to the British White Ensign, (i.e., a red Cross of St George, upon a white field).
  3. The National Flag; (Mercantile Ensign?): The canton is as for the Naval Ensign; the field is plain red.
Glen Robert-Grant Hodgins, 30 March 1998

I was able to confirm through a video from Thai vexillologist Mai Lertrattipong that this flag indeed exists. From the 1960 (BE 2503) state visit to Burma by the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama 9), this ensign can be seen on a warship that was protecting King Bhumibol and President Win Maung (both were on the "Maykhalar").
Zachary Harden, 4 December 2018


Naval Jack

[Flag of Myanmar] 2:3 image by Željko Heimer, 19 December 2010

The national flag serves as the naval jack for warships of the Tatmadaw Yey. (Source)
Zachary Harden, 11 December 2018


Civil Ensign

[Civil Ensign of Myanmar] by Željko Heimer, as reported in Album des Pavillons (1990)

Horizontal bicolour of blue over red with the white emblem as in the national flag in upper stripe at hoist.
Željko Heimer, 1 July 2002

There was a question if this flag was in use at all. Initially, at the FOTW-Facebook group there was a stock photo used in this early 2010's video of the national anthem. I am not certain what channel it came from, yet from the searching I did, the video and/or the channel went offline. Another website that said they had proof, the Wikimedia Commons, cited a Thai website with a photo. Unfortunately, that photo went missing as well. However, at the stock photo site Alamy, has a photo of the ensign in use (taken in 2006). With this following information, I have full confidence in saying the civil ensign did exist (even if there was no legal document). The government ensign, however, is still a mystery.
Zachary Harden, 9 December 2018

State Ensign (dubious)

[State Ensign of Myanmar]  by Željko Heimer, as reported in Album des Pavillons (1990)

Government ships ensign (except warships). Blue ensign with the national flag in canton.

Željko Heimer, 1 July 2002