This site contains information on the order of flags used when Royal Navy ships "Dressed Overall" on ceremonial occasions between 1889 and 2006. It is meant to show the results of my research into the subject as an interested amateur and should not be regarded as an"official" study.
There appear to be very few official files in existence. From 1898 to 1913 the Official Dress Diagrams were printed in the Fleet Signal Book. Sometime after WW1 they transferred to the Admiralty Reference Book OU Series then, about 1943, to the BR Series. I have not been able to locate any of the OU or BR series publications nor their diagrams.( They may be held in the Nat.Archives in Kew, UK.)
I have relied mostly on over 200 photos that show part
or most of the patterns. Where possible I have compared them with the
Official Diagrams of the pattern that I have and RN Flag Charts of the
various periods. These patterns were also used by the RAN, RCN, and RNZN.
I would like to thank Miles McLaughlin for supplying so many photos from his collection. John Perryman of the R.A.N.Historical Section for his encouragement and locating numerous photos and old Signal Cards. Tony Lovell of the "Dreadnought Project" for supplying most of the the Admiralty Dressing Line Diagrams. The numerous people who kindly gave their time in what sometimes, for them, was a frustrating and fruitless search for information.
COLOUR OF FLAGS.
A helpful way to check if the photo was taken using orthochromatic film is to compare, if visible, the tone of the red crosses on the Union Flag or the White Ensign with the tone of the blue background. (See photos below)
This means decorating a ship with flags from stem to stern. Usually these flags are permanently attached to lines called "Dressing Lines". Ships dress in the morning at "Colours" and undress again at sunset.
Ships underway do not dress overall. Those underway should dress with masthead ensigns only until clearing port.
When any dressing date falls on a Sunday the ships will dress overall but the salute will defer until the following day when ships will dress with masthead flags only.
Ships may also dress by order of the Senior Officer present
when in the presence of a Royal or Imperial Standard or visits by Royalty
or Imperial persons.
NAMES OF LINES
FORE - DOWN: Runs from Bow to Foremast
There were four different time frames:
Obviously there are gaps in the information I have presented on this site. If anyone has any photos, diagrams, or other information that they could make available to add to the site I would be very grateful. I will return any photos etc. if requested.