Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912)
Captain Scott's silk sledging flag, 12 x 34in. (30.5 x 88cm.), a standard with the Cross of St. George (a red Cross on a white ground) nearest the hoist, the remainder of the flag divided horizontally with two stripes (cream above blue), the legend 'Stretched wings towards the South' worked in blue on the cream stripe, above a pair of predominantly blue wings supporting a small green ball overlapping the join between the two stripes, the edge of the pennant worked with twisted cream and blue cord. (Some damage.)
Provenance: Robert Falcon Scott (1868-1912); by descent.
This is the second of Scott's sledging flags on the Terra Nova expedition, and was presumably taken to the South Pole, although Bowers's photographs of the Party and flags at the Pole do not show it clearly. It does appear, centre stage, behind 'the Owner' in Ponting's photograph of Scott's birthday dinner on 6 June 1911, and hangs beside the Union Jack which takes centre stage beside Scott at the head of the table at the Midwinter Day Dinner on 22 June 1911. It had come out before, on Christmas Day, 1910, in the mess of the Terra Nova 'gaily decorated with our various banners' (R.F. Scott, Journal, Sunday, December 25, Christmas Day) and was described by Debenham in his diary entry for the same day: '...I have learnt quite a lot about sledge-flags that I wished I had known before. As it is, the only part that Griff and I got right is the shape, but it doesn't matter and I was jolly proud of my two and they were much admired.
The proper design is something like this - the flag of a pennant shape about 2 ft long and 1ft wide, the square nearest the lanyard being filled with the Cross of St. George whereas Griff and I have a Union Jack there. The rest of the flag should be in the family colours with the family crest worked on it. The whole flag is bound with a cord of the colours of the flag base. Some of the flags were simply gorgeous and magnificently worked. Each officer of the landing parties has one, whether he is likely to go sledging or not.
Cherry-Garrard's is perhaps the best, two weird animals worked in silk, the texture showing the slightest changes in colour, surmounting the 'Cheris l'espoir'. Sunny Jim's design is apt for a meteorologist, being a streak of forked white lightning...One flag presented to Capt. Scott has a nicely worked pair of grey wings on a white background with the words 'Wings stretched towards the South'. (J.D. Back (ed.), The Quiet Land, The Antarctic Diaries of Frank Debenham Huntingdon, 1992, pp.31-2)