A History of Battlefield Souvenirs:  The Flag

Grivita 1877

For thousands and thousands of years it has been a tradition among soldiers to take items from the battlefield.  In earlier times warriors took the enemy's horses, weapons and jewelry. Among the most prized of all souvenirs was the enemy flag.

Th Schneider - Capturing the Turkish flag - 1879 2


There were very few flags on the battlefield and they were always well guarded; capturing an enemy flag was unquestionably a rare, heroic act.  

During WWII the U.S. Army created a poster advertising for war bonds.  It shows an American G.I. with a captured Japanese flag.

roosevelt-jflag 2

Even President Roosevelt was presented with a captured Japanese flag.

Never before in history had the battlefields seen so many flags.  Practically every Japanese soldier carried at least one; some men carried three or more flags.  This was the first time when nearly everyone could either find a flag, buy one or receive it as a gift. (see USO entertainer: above)   As a result, American soldiers brought home thousands and thousands of Yosegaki Hinomaru at the end of the war. 


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