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Australian Territory of New Guinea 1919-1949

Last modified: 2019-05-28 by ian macdonald
Keywords: new guinea |
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[Australia] image by António Martins, 28 Nov 2005

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The TNG flag and TNGC customs flag belonged to the area of the former German New Guinea in the north east of the island, which became the Australian Territory of New Guinea under a League of Nations Mandate in 1919. In 1949, the two territories were combined administratively, although in some sense they were still distinct until independence.
Jonathan Dixon, 24 September 2015

These two flags were the only known ones unique to pre-war New Guinea, with the Australian Blue Ensign flown for most purposes from 1921 to 1942. However instead of the territory Administrators flying the Australian Blue Ensign as was done in the other territories (except Papua), they reportedly flew the semi official TNG flag as shown below.
Jeff Thomson, 29 March 2019

TNG flag of 1921

[Territory of New Guinea 1921-1949] image by Ben Cahoon, 1 May 2012

The possible 1921-49 Territory of New Guinea flag.
Ben Cahoon, 1 May 2012

Little is known for certain about this flag. No record has been found of any official authorisation for it, or when it first came into service. This flag was flown for the New Guinea Administrator when afloat, from the peak or main masthead and at the same time the Australian Blue Ensign was flown as the ship's ensign. It can be taken as suspended from noon on 14 February 1942 and cancelled outright from 30 October 1945. In recent years it has become used as the representative flag icon of pre-war New Guinea, despite its semi-official status and its probably only being the Administrator's personal flag. Suggestions that it was also flown as a de facto flag of the New Guinea administration, or that austere depression-era variants were produced without crowns and/or garlands, have not been confirmed to date. Australian government policy from about 1908 was for the undefaced Australian Blue Ensign to be flown as the flag of territory administrations and as the personal flag of the Administrators, thus making this 'TNG' flag a purely local arrangement.
Jeff Thomson, 29 March 2019

Customs flag 1928-1951

File 109104 also contains a 1949 letter (p4) from Mr Halliagan (Dept External Territories) to a German (vexillologist?) Mr Karl Fachinger, informing him that the precise specifications of the NG customs flags, as they were lost during the war and no longer in use. "From information in various sources, it would appear that the Badge varies in size from a 9 inch disc on a flag of 36 inches to a 24 inch disc on a flag of 108 inches. The centre of the Badge is placed equidistant from the bottom corner of the Union Jack and the outside edge of the Ensign, as indicated on the sketch which accompanied your letter".
Jonathan Dixon, 20 November 2012

Details of the New Guinea Customs flag prescription 1928 to 1951: Reportedly such flags existed, but their use ceased permanently in February 1942; Customs Regulations No 84; 31/10/1928; Regulation 2. 'The Customs Flag shall be the flag of the Commonwealth of Australia (Blue Ensign), with the addition in the fly of a white ball with the letters "T.N.G.C." in black in bold character.'
Jeff Thomson, 29 October 2015

The badge sizes quoted above by Jonathan for the New Guinea customs flag suggest that they were placed within the Southern Cross, in the true fly centre. Sometimes badges on defaced pre-war Commonwealth ensigns were placed in the fly within a more spread-out Southern Cross, rather than in the flag's lower centre. Unlike other pre-war territory flags this one, and it's Papuan customs counterpart were not taken as cancelled with establishment of the Provisional Administration on 30 October 1945. They remained prescribed in their respective Customs Regulations (but reportedly unused) until the unified customs laws took effect in November 1951. The Australian Blue Ensign without any additions was reportedly flown instead.
Jeff Thomson, 29 March 2019

Quarantine ensign 1924-1956

New Guinea also had a quarantine ensign prescribed in it's Quarantine Regulations which had exactly the same prescription as the Australian ones, but whereas the (Australian) Quarantine Regulations no longer prescribed a Q-ensign after 1935, New Guinea's ones still did until unified PNG Quarantine laws came into effect in 1956. This ensign is not known to have ever been used, in fact it appears to have been completely overlooked in all of the Commonwealth government enquiries into flags of the territories during the 1940s and 1950s. When the separate New Guinea quarantine laws were replaced by unified laws in 1956, these made no provision for a special quarantine ensign. Below are the two New Guinea (adopted) Quarantine Regulations that carried the Q-ensign prescription and the prescription wording which was the same for both;-

Quarantine Regulations (1922) No 18 of 1923; Section 71. Effective 05/06/1924.
Quarantine Regulations 1927 No 8; Section 74. (25/01/1927). Replaced 29 November 1956.

Quarantine Ensign for Launches.
Launches while on Quarantine Duty shall fly the Quarantine ensign. The Quarantine ensign shall be a blue ensign showing on a circular yellow disc or badge the crown over an anchor crossed by a serpent-coiled rod.
Jeff Thomson, 29 March 2019