Highlights from the History of Needham in 100 objects
WW1 Flag of the Allies
WWI flag containing the flags of all the Allies.
The United States joined the Allied forces late in the World War; by 1917, the European powers had been at war for nearly three years. Americans were reluctant to interfere in a dispute between European imperial powers that did not affect its interests. However, Germany's return to unrestricted submarine warfare, as well as its attempts to lure Mexico into the war against the United States, finally brought America into the war alongside the British.

The "Allies Flag" shows the American flag surrounded by the flags of the allied nations - the primary allies Britain, France, Belgium, and Italy in the corners, and the smaller forces (European and Central American) in between. Presenting the United States as part of a broad coalition of "Friends Who Fight in Freedom's Cause" was an important part of the justification and the propaganda of the war effort, and there were many similar depictions of the grouped flags of the allies.

This flag is unusual, in that it shows an eagle superimposed on the image of the American flag. At the time, any alteration of the flag was illegal, so the banners were recalled and reprinted without the eagle. Surviving copies with the eagle are therefore extremely rare.

The Flags: In the corners, clockwise from left: Great Britain, Italy, France, Belgium. Top center block: Canada, Scotland, Australia, Ireland. Right edge block: Serbia, Russia, Greece, Brazil. Bottom center block: Japan, Cuba, Portugal, China. Left edge block: Panama, Romania, Poland, England.
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WWI Allies flagWWI Allies flag