in the photos Im seeing her stern ensign is furled or folded by breeze; although the mainmast pennant is clearly the red cross hospital flag, I would expect the stern ensign of a His Majesty's (hospital) Ship (naval service) (and in a war zone attached to a squadron) to be proudly the Royal Navy ensign, the White field with George Cross in Red and small corner union jack, representing Royal Navy ships... would this be wrong?
I think she would have had the blue ensign and not the white. As a hospital ship, she was run by the MOD but she was never classified as HMS, so she would not and could not fly the white ensign.
However as a Hospital ship she would have been part of the "Hospital Group" and this would have given her the Blue ensign. There are more reasons for her using the Blue ensign ie. RNVR Master aboard, RNVR Officers aboard etc. (Check my post-
Britannic - BRITANNIC FROM THE HILLS).
As to the Red ensign, that would have gone as soon as the MOD took her over as a Hospital Ship.
I appreciate your thoughts but there are a few things that should be cleared up. I am asking about the flag at the stern of the ship. You used the term stem which is at the bow. During the early part of the 19th century, British warships would fly all three colors of national ensigns depending on which squadron they were assigned to. I am not knowledgeable enough about the Royal Navy to know if or when this practice was discontinued. That's why I'm asking to see if someone has specific knowledge in this area. Again thanks.
Does anyone else have something they could contribute to this question?
I think you may have the correct answer. I went back to Britannic photos to have another look.
First, the ensign is definitely not the white ensign. Second, in the black and white photos I almost thought because the color of the flag was not extremely dark that it might be the red ensign. I went back and looked at a photo of Titanic's blue ensign and the gray shade in the black and white photo seemed to match that in the Britannic photo. I then remembered that in the black and white film used in this period, any red would shift the gray shade much darker. Therefore a medium red would appear darker than a medium blue. For now I agree that it was the blue ensign. Thanks for your thoughts.