For sale is an original WWII US ARMY SIGNAL FLAG KIT. This canvas case is marked “US Army Flag Kit” and contains one semaphore flag with wooden pole that divides into two equal length sections. The one semaphore flag and canvas case are both in excellent condition. The Red/White Semaphore flag is mounted to a wooden pole. The flag measures approximately 16 inches square. The long wooden pole measures 24 inches long when assembled. A first rate military collectible.
The flag semaphore system used two short poles with square flags, which a signal person holds in different positions to signal letters of the alphabet and numbers. The signaler holds one pole in each hand, and extends each arm in one of eight possible directions. The earlier wigwag system was invented by US Army surgeon Major Albert J. Myer in the 1850s. Myer took his inspiration from the telegraph code. The two-foot signal flags, called action flags, were used in situations where the signalman needed to stay under cover from enemy fire or wished to signal less obtrusively. Wigwag was used extensively by Civil War Signal Corps troops on both sides, and was an essential supplement to the electrical telegraph. Its first use in battle was by Confederate Lieutenant Edward Porter Alexander (a former pupil of Myer) at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861.The Civil War was the high point of the use of wigwag. The wigwag method was superseded by flag semaphore for short distances, and the heliograph for long distances in regions where the electrical telegraph was not available.