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Tanzania : Tanganyika (1919 - 1961)

Mandated Territory of Tanganyika (Historical flag)

Last modified: 2023-12-09 by bruce berry
Keywords: tanganyika | giraffe | charlton j |
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[Flag of Tanganyika, pre 1961] image by Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004 See also:


In 1885 Germany annexed German East Africa. During the First World War this was occupied by Allied forces. It was renamed Tanganyika Territory in 1920 and on 20 July 1922 the British Administration was formalised under a British League of Nations Mandate.  From 1946, Tanganyika was administrated by the United Kingdom as a United Nations trust territory. Tanganyika became independent on 09 December 1961.  Zanzibar became independent 19 December 1963 from the United Kingdom and merged with Tanganyika on 26 April 1964 to form the United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar.  The country was renamed the United Republic of Tanzania on 29 October 1964.    
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Tanganyika Red Ensign (1919 - 1961)

After World War I Tanganyika became a Mandated Territory under the League of Nations, with the British as the mandated power. The flag that was used was the red or blue ensign, with a giraffe’s head in the fly. In the blue ensign the head is not place on a white disk.
Stuart Notholt, 29 Jun 1996

The Red Ensign had a white disc with Giraffe's neck and head. The white disk's diameter = 4/9 of flag height. Badge from Flaggenbuch (1939) by Ottfried Nubecker.
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Tanganyika Red and Blue Ensign: 1919 - 1961. Both ceased to be used at the end of 1961 when Tanganyika became independent (not 1964 when Tanganyika and Zanzibar joined to become Tanzania).

In 1932 the Tanganyika Immigration launch,  which should have flown the Blue Ensign with a giraffe's head in the fly, actually flew a Blue Ensign with POLICE stitched on in white tape.
(PRO document, CO 323/1181/17) Much more informative, and much easier to make.
David Prothero, 23 Sep 2000

image by Clay Moss, 09 Oct 2006

Many of you are aware of the story I have told about finding an old piece of 4x8 foot ply board on Lake Malawi with 4 old British red ensigns crudely painted onto it. The ensigns were Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, and Tanganyika. The story goes that yachtsmen from all of those colonies used to meet and race yachts on the lake. Yachts from respective colonies evidently flew their particular red ensigns on their boats, and the ply board served spectators on the shore as an ensign identifier.

I have not been able to verify the whole yacht story even though it does seem plausible. I have a photo of the ply board buried somewhere and the Tanganyika ensign looks like this image. You'll notice that the white disk commonly associated with Tanganyika's red ensign is missing.

I don't know if an actual ensign was ever produced minus the disk, but the ply board painting suggests that it was possible.
Clay Moss, 09 Oct 2006

Tanganyika Blue Ensign (1919 - 1961)

[Blue Ensign pre 1961] image by Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

The Blue Ensign had the Giraffe's neck and head without white disk. Badge from Flaggenbuch (1939) by Ottfried Nubecker .
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Tanganyika Governor's flag (1919 - 1961)

[Governor's flag 1919-1953] image by Martin Grieves, 06 Jun 2004

The Governor flew a British Union Jack defaced with the badge of the territory in the centre, surrounded by a garland of laurel. 
Martin Grieve, 06 Jun 2004

Tanganyika Badge (1919 - 1961)

[Badge 1919 - 1961] image by Martin Grieve, 06 June 2004

The badge was approved 1919 and added to the Admiralty Flag Book as an amendment in 1920.
Also Tanganyika was technically not a British colony.  It was a League of Nations Mandated Territory between 1919 and1946, and a United Nations Trust Territory between 1946 and 1961.
David Prothero, 06 Jun 2004

Governor-General's flag (1961 - 1962)

[Governor-General's flag] image by Željko Heimer, 27 Mar 2003

As shown in 'Flags of The World' by Bill Yenne (Bison Books, 1993).
Željko Heimer, 27 Mar 2003

When Tanganyika first gained independence on 09 December 1961, it gained such status as a Constitutional Monarchy with the Queen of the United Kingdom as the Queen of Tanganyika (much like the status in present day Canada, Australia, Bahamas, New Zealand, etc.).  The Governor-General appointed was Sir Richard Gordon Turnbull. However, this status only lasted for one year as on  09 December 1962 Tanganyika became a republic with a president as head of state replacing the Queen. (Source:
Jim Booth, 07 Mar 2005

Tanganyika Customs ensign


image by Martin Grieve, 25 Aug 2013


Recently I was looking through "The Colours of the Fleet" by Malcolm Farrow and edited by David Prothero when I stumbled across this entry from the 2011 edition:
"The head of a Giraffe and HM CUSTOMS".  There is a date of 1934 is given and presumably this was the year of adoption.

This badge is on the blue ensign of course and was presumably the flag of the Tanganyika Customs Service.
Martin Grieve, 25 Aug 2013