'The Empire's Flag'

IMG_6965.JPG
IMG_6922.JPG
IMG_6937.JPG
IMG_6975.JPG
IMG_6923.JPG
IMG_5441.JPG
IMG_5444.JPG
IMG_6938.JPG
IMG_6966-1.JPG
IMG_6966-2.JPG
IMG_6967.JPG

Description

The propaganda postcard ‘The Empire’s Flag’ was sent to many British colonies and protectorates in 1916 and 1917. On the obverse, it bears an image of the Union Jack and, on the reverse, a poem encouraging colonial soldiers to stay loyal to the British Empire, symbolised in the flag for which they all fought. Wellington House translated the poem in a number of languages: Hindustani, Arabic, Chinese, Malay, Urdu, Gujarati, and Mahratti. To see the original postcard and the attached official correspondence, please click on the sources above.

Context

In late 1916, Wellington House agent Edward Long designed a postcard entitled ‘The Empire’s Flag’ and had it translated in multiple languages from Urdu to Arabic and Gujarati. Wellington House, in cooperation with the British Colonial Office, sent this piece of imperial propaganda to many British colonies and protectorates from Singapore to South Africa and Zanzibar. The postcard bore a poem in which the virtue of the flag and the honour of loyal colonial soldiers were praised, the soldiers united by the 'same cause' and fighting under the 'same Union Jack'. Confronted with desertion and uprisings in the colonies and protectorates, British propaganda agents, sometimes in collaboration with colonial translators, were urged to produce postcards, newspapers, cartoons, and films to promote loyalty to the British Empire.