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WWII Flags of the Rungee Flag Collection

Comments from our Guest Cataloger, Nationally Renowned Vexillology Expert James Ferrigan

Observations on the WWII Flags of the Rungee Flag Collection
By Jim Ferrigan

Dr. Clarence Rungee

Dr. Clarence Rungee, of New Haven, Connecticut, began collecting flags during WWII and continued until his death in 1971. Although his collection of over 600 flags was not limited to military and naval flags, they are perhaps the most interesting in the collection because they are silent witnesses to the greatest event in world history, World War II.

Rungee, himself a veteran and active in Veteran's affairs, served as the Surgeon General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. He used his many connections to correspond with military and naval officers asking for significant flags associated with events, vessels, or individuals. For Rungee however, it could not be just, "Any old flag... It has to be a flag with some historical importance attached to it."

The results you see here, well over 100 used flags from units and vessels that were participants in WWII. These are not ceremonial or commemorative flags, but rather flags that were used on the vessels or carried by these units. In every case their condition betrays their use. In some cases, the flags were actually spared from destruction by Rungee's request.

This begs the question, "How do we know these are real?" The answer is threefold:

  • The flag themselves are all from the 1941-1945 era, military, naval, or civilian- all flags are from the period.
  • Dr. Rungee and his collection are documented in numerous contemporary newspaper interviews and articles.
  • After his death his collection was acquired by America's premier vexillologist, Dr. Whitney Smith, founder of The Flag Research Center, who accessed the Rungee Collection into his Flag Heritage Foundation in 1976, and whose original intake documents accompany most flags.

An example of just how well-placed Dr. Rungee was to ask for and acquire these flags is no less than Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, who hosted Dr. Rungee at the 1946 observation of the signing of the instrument of the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri. It seems likely that at some point Dr. Rungee had Admiral Nimitz's imprimatur.

Dr. Rungee acquired flags from ships and units associated with some of the most momentous events of WWII. It cannot be said with any certainty that any specific flag was at any event, only that it came from a ship or unit that was. Whether ragged or resplendent, the Rungee flags represent the largest collection of vexillological material culture for WWII still in private hands.

Jim Ferrigan

James Ferrigan is one of the country's leading vexillogical historians. Since 1984 he has published numerous articles in scholarly journals and made presentations to a wide range of conferences and symposiums on the subject. He has served as vice president of the American Vexillogical Association, and since 1997 has been the Protocol Officer for that organization. James Ferrigan consults actively for institutional collections and prominent private collectors, and advised the Smithsonian Institution on conservation of the Star Spangled Banner. He is widely regarded as the foremost expert on the use and history of flags during World War II.

Dr. Rungee with his collection

Annotated history of Rungee and his museum

Dr. Clarence R. Rungee (pronounced Rungy, with a hard g) was born in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1888.  He attended Temple University in Philadelphia and received an M.D. degree there, later working as a pharmacist and hospital director.  He was active in Republican politics in New Haven for many years, and served on the city's Board of Aldermen.  As a veteran of World War I, Dr. Rungee acted as National Surgeon General of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and was National Historian of the Veterans of World War I.

When he died in 1971, Dr. Rungee had one of the most extensive and unusual private collections of flags anywhere.  He had obtained more than 600 flags from all parts of the world and from such famous people as General Dwight Eisenhower, Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, President Syngman Rhee of South Korea, and President Chaim Weizmann of Israel.  In addition to the flags, Dr. Rungee's private museum included hundreds of autographed photographs of distinguished people.  He displayed his flags in many lectures he delivered during the years 1947-1971.  After Dr. Rungee's death his widow, Antoinette Rungee, donated his flags (and copies of many of the autographs) to the Flag Heritage Foundation as the Dr. Clarence R. Rungee Memorial Collection.

Published articles about Dr. Rungee and his Museum

Rungee Bridgeport Post 1960

Rungee Bridgeport Post 1960

Rungee Bridgeport Telegram 1923

Rungee Bridgeport Telegram 1923

Rungee His Flags Have Flown 1953 part 1

Rungee His Flags Have Flown 1953 part 1 |
Read Article

Rungee His Flags Have Flown part 2

Rungee His Flags Have Flown part 2
Read Article

Rungee Montreal Gazette 1954

Rungee Montreal Gazette 1954

Rungee Outstanding Collection part 1

Rungee Outstanding Collection part 1

Rungee Outstanding Collection part 2

Rungee Outstanding Collection part 2

Rungee The Californian 1952

Rungee The Californian 1952

History-Lover_Collects_563_Key

History Lover Collects 563 Key

 Rungee Obituary in 1972 Flag Bulletin

Rungee Obituary in 1972 Flag Bulletin

A Selection of the Many letters of Donation and Transmittal from the Rungee Files

 A Selection of the Many letters of Donation and Transmittal from the Rungee Files
 A Selection of the Many letters of Donation and Transmittal from the Rungee Files
 A Selection of the Many letters of Donation and Transmittal from the Rungee Files
 A Selection of the Many letters of Donation and Transmittal from the Rungee Files
 A Selection of the Many letters of Donation and Transmittal from the Rungee Files

Categorization of the Rungee Collection

By Jim Ferrigan

The Dr. Clarence Rungee Collection contains the largest assemblage of WWII era flags in private hands. Such concentrations of surviving material culture from over 70 years ago in private hands are exceedingly rare. What make the Rungee flags even more significant is the significant vessels, units, and events with which they are connected.  

  • Included here are 20 flags associated with 15 different U.S. naval vessels and one airfield from the attack at Pearl Harbor.
  • There are 22 flags from 16 ships, and five flags from units that were at D-Day or Omaha Beach.
  • WWII saw the end of the "battlewagons" and included here are 10 different ensigns from 8 different battleships.
  • Naval Aviation was the key to victory in the Pacific Theater and Rungee acquired flags from 7 aircraft carriers.
  • There are flags from 8 different WWII era cruisers.
  • Five significant destroyers and destroyer escorts.
  • There are 11 submarine ensigns from eight different boats.
  • Three ensigns from troop or transport ships.
  • Two flags associated with the Philippines -- Corregidor and the Liberation
  • There are 9 Headquarters and camp flags
  • Six Homefront flags and artifacts.  

Below are links to the various flags listed by category.

PEARL HARBOR SHIPS
42005 (53) US 48 star hoisting flag USS California
42006 (375) USS Detroit 48 star hoisting flag
42007 (372) US 45 star flag hoisting flag for SS-167 Narwhal submarine
42008 (10) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Nevada, short letter.
42009 (342) USS San Francisco (CA 38)
42010 (377) USS Honolulu Pearl Harbor
42011 (124) USS Phoenix- Cruiser
42012 USS Pennsylvania (BB38)
42013 (376) USS "Phoenix" (CL 46), WWII ship
42014 (17) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS San Francisco.
42016 (344) USS "Tautog"
42017 (395) USS Vestal (Pearl Harbor)
42018 (373) USS "West Virginia", WWII ship
42020 (416) USS West Virginia  (AB-48)
42021 (382) USS Arizona "UNSV" for issue
42022 (29) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Maryland.
42023 (383) USS Oklahoma "UNSV" for issue
42024 (31) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Tenn. Pearl Harbor,
42124 (51) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Enterprise
PEARL HARBOR FLAGS
42025 (384) Wheeler Airfield
OMAHA BEACH - NORMANDY SHIPS
42028 (44) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Bumbcombe County
42030 (12) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Charles Carroll. Normandy
42031 (391) British WWII - HMS Devonshire
42032 (385) USS Emmons, Normandy
42033 (8) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Empire  Javelin, Omaha Beach
42034 (345) USS Harding
42035 USS LCI(L) - 94 Normandy - Omaha
42036 USS LST - 286 -  Normandy - Omaha
42037 (386) USS Samuel chase, Normandy
42038 (392) British WWII HMS Warspite
42052 USS LST-310 - Normandy - Omaha
42085 (371) USS "Charles Carroll" (APA 2*), Normandy, WWII ship
OMAHA BEACH - LAND FORCES
42040 (487) 29th INF. DIV 116th RGT 1st Bl. A Co Normandy Omaha Beach
42041 (13) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - 2nd Div. Normandy.
42042 (15) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag -  30th Div. Normandy.
42043 (23) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - 29th Div. Omaha Beach; letter
42044 (138) US 48 star 29th Div. Co. B. Normandy
UTAH BEACH SHIPS
42045 USS LCI(L)-326  Utah Beach
42046 (380) USS "Laffey", Normandy, WWII ship
42053 (303) 48 star USS O'Brien, Utah Beach -- Normandy
NORMANDY SHIPS
42055 HMS Faulknor, Normandy-Juno Ship
42108 (370) USS "Augusta", Normandy, WWII ship
BATTLESHIPS
42057 (5) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Iowa for to Tehran. E
42058 (202) US 48 star Missouri - Nimitz flag
42059 (368) USS "Idaho", WWII ship
42066 (59) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Missouri
42067 (47) US 48 star hoisting flag USS New Jersey
42068 (28) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS New Jersey.
42069 (41) US 48 star hoisting flag USS New Mexico
42070 (34) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS South Dakota, donor name on flag.
42071 (33) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Texas North Africa, Normandy.
42072 (26) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Wisconsin.
AIRCRAFT CARRIERS
42073 (14) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Bennington.
42074 (376) 48 star flag USS Coral Sea
42075 (45) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Franklin
42076 (6) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag  - USS Randolph - Iwo Jima, letter.
42077 (46) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Saratoga
42078 (25) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Shangri La.
42079 (7) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Tarawa.
CRUISERS
42071 (377) USS "Savannah", WWII ship
42080 (52) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Canberra
42081 (342) USS Indianapolis
42082 (55) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Oakland
42083 (140) US 48 star USS Pasadena
42084 (43) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Pittsburg
42086 (16) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Tulsa - JFK related.
42087 (54) US 48 star hoisting flag USN Tuscaloosa
DESTROYERS & DESTROYER ESCORTS
42088 (396) USS England (Sub-record sinking)
42090 (204) US 48 star "USS Kidd" letter
42104 (11) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Hodge.
42106 (27) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS W.R. Rush.
42114 USS Levy - Wake Island Surrender Vessel
SUBMARINES
42091 (372) USS "Barb", WWII ship
42092 (50) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Flasher
42093 (126) USS Flasher Sank 23 Japanese ships
42094 (375) USS "Flasher" (SS 249), WWII ship
42095 (40) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Hammer Head
42096 (9) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Red Fish.
42097 (343) USS "Seahorse"
42098 (378) USS "Silver Sides", WWII ship
42099 (42) US 48 star hoisting flag USS Skipjack
42100 (139) US 48 star USS Skipjack
42101 (374) USS "Spadefish" (SS 411), WWII ship
TROOP AND TRANSPORT SHIPS
42102 (2) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag  - USS Gen. Butner.
42103 (22) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - USS Leroy Eltings.
42105 (379) USS N5 "Marine Carp", WWII ship
PHILIPPINES
42019 Corregidor HQ Flag
42109 (531) First US Flag on Philippines after Japanese Lost
OTHER FLAGS
42110 (24) US - 48 Star Hoisting Parade Flag - 82nd Airborne.
42112 (1) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - 34th Div. Iowa, note.
42115 (56) US 48 star hoisting flag General MacArthur  HQ Tokyo
42116 (201) US 48 star McArthur - HQ Japan
42118 (18) US - 45 Star Hoisting Flag - Utah/Paris 1945 Liberation, photo.
42119 Gen Patton Vehicle Flag
42120 (472/ 105) Gen. Patton HQ Flag Sicily + Off Flag for Mr. Slater
42121 (57) US 48 star hoisting flag USMC 3rd Division Parade flag
HOMEFRONT FLAGS & ARTIFACTS
42125 (628) American Legion VIP Blanket
42126 (346) American Legion
42127 (4) US - 48 Star Hoisting Flag - Ted Lewis - USO.
42128 (211) OSK Lines AGWI Lines NYC 1940
42129 US VFW Color
42130 (141) US vets, women, WWII
FOREIGN SHIPS
42049 (148) New Zealand HMNZ "Aorangi"
42050 (188) British Naval HMS Enterprise (D52)
42131 (292) Swedish "Gripsholm" hoisting flag 1942-46
42132 (146) Canadian HMS Haida
42133 (397) French - Ile de France (Troop ship - Normandy)
42134 (39) France - "Ile De France" - Troop ship & Normandy.
42135 (147) Australia HMAS "Manoora"
42136 (36) British Naval Ensign "Manoora" - WWII service.
42137 (145) Canadian WWII Air Force
42138 R.M.S. Scythia transport WW2
42139 (39) Netherlands Cruiser HNLMS "Tromp"
42140 (37) Canada - HMCS Quebec - Atlantic service - sank the U-224.
FOREIGN FLAGS
42141 (360) Argentina & Bolivia
42142 (38) China - Nationalist WWII Flag, letter.
42144 (223) Ethiopia w/letter 1948
42145 (381) Japanese