ID number RELAWM31805
Title Australian flag : Captain F E Stahl, 8 Division Signals
Collection Heraldry
Object type Flag
Maker Smith, Darcy Robert Henry
Place made Singapore
Date made c 1945
Physical description Cotton; Wood
On display Main building: World War 2 Gallery: Gallery 4

Description

Handmade Australian blue ensign made from a Union Jack flag stitched into the corner of blue fabric. The stars of the Southern Cross and the Federation Star have been cut out of the blue cloth and pieces of white handkerchief sewn into them. The Union Jack is printed along one arm with 'MADE IN ENGLAND'. Written in black ink along the white hoist of the flag is 'Made By QX.19748 SGT. Smith D R H 17 AUG 1945'. Written in faded ink on the Federation Star is 'Dear Stahl Good Luck. A very game action to fly this flag. F.G. Galleghan LT Col comd A.I.F (P.W) Malaya 20 Aug 1945'. A white cotton rope with carved wooden toggles at either end is threaded through the hoist.

Summary

This flag was the first Australian flag flown in Singapore after the surrender of the Japanese in 1945. When news of the imminent surrender for the Japanese filtered through to the Allied prisoners, QX6306 Captain Frederick Stahl had this flag made to be flown once peace was announced. Stahl was born in Victoria in 1909 and enlisted in the Army in Queensland in July 1940. He served with 8 Divisional Signals and was captured by the Japanese in February 1942. He was imprisoned at camp X3 at Bukit Panjang on Singapore Island along with QX19748 Sergeant Darcy Robert Henry Smith, a tailor from East Gympie who enlisted with 2/1 Heavy Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery in March 1941. Stahl asked Smith to make the flag which was made from a Union Jack owned by TX3788 Private Frederick Pegg, 2/40 Battalion, who used it for burials and blue Japanese sheet material stolen from the stores. The stars were made by QX19566 James French, 2/10 Field Regiment, from Red Cross handkerchiefs and the sewing thread was unraveled from Japanese socks. While the material was being gathered it was kept hidden under the prisoner's sleeping platforms and when Smith began sewing QX23706 Private Vivian Gambling, 2/3 Ordinance Stores Company, kept watch. On 20 August the Japanese surrender was announced in the camp by the arrival of British parachutists. The flag flew above the camp for some days until the men marched out to join other prisoners at Changi. Stahl was then summoned by the AIF Commander at the camp, Lieutenant Colonel 'Black Jack' Galleghan who asked him to fly his flag above the gaol alongside the British flag until a larger, more official flag could be obtained. Stahl agreed and on its return to him Galleghan wrote the inscription which appears on the Federation star. After their return to Australia, Stahl was discharged in December 1945, Mentioned in Despatches and was made a member of the Order of the British Empire. Smith was discharged in January 1947.