Among the trophies, relics, and souvenirs held by the Australian War Memorial in Canberra is a large German swallow-tailed flag donated in 1922 by Major Wentworth Mainwaring.

German banner from Jerusalem donated to the Australian War Memorial by Major Mainwaring 1922. Viewed 30 November 2016. Accession number RELAWM01545.

Wentworth Rowland Cavenagh-Mainwaring (1869-1933), known in the family as Wenty, was my great-great uncle. He served in the Middle East from 1914 firstly with the 3rd Light Horse and later with the 2nd Stationary Hospital..

According to Mainwaring’s account, the flag came into his hands in August 1918, when he was briefly billeted in a Jerusalem hotel called the Hotel Fast, which had been occupied by members of the German general staff before their withdrawal to Nablus in November the year before. The story has the flag rescued from being about to be burned by Corporal Cole. Corporal Cole was probably Thomas Elgin Cole sern 8696 who served with the 2nd Australian General Hospital. It was quite a souvenir.

My grandmother, Kathleen (1908-2013), talked about Wenty’s flag once or twice and visited the War Memorial with my father and her sister to view it in the 1970s. (Kathleen’s mother was Wenty’s sister.)

The flag, large, made of wool with a painted eagle, hung in Kathleen’s parents’ house in Pennington Terrace in Adelaide for a few years until it was donated to the War Memorial.

The flag is not on permanent display, but my brother and I were recently given a private showing.

Nearly a hundred years after Wenty souvenired his enemy flag, it is still in excellent condition.




 

from National Archives of Australia: Australian War Memorial; AWM93, Australian War Memorial registry files – First series; 7/4/676 German Flag Donated to the Australian War Museum by L/C Dr. Cavenagh Mainwaring. [Click on image to enlarge]


The Fast Hotel  in 1917.

German soldiers on their way to attend a religious service on Good Friday in Jerusalem, 6 April 1917. The building on the left is the Fast Hotel. © IWM (Q 56676) from the Imperial War Museum image 205082094

The War Memorial initially associated the flag with General Von Falkenhayn.

from the correspondence file concerning the donation of the flag

The flag was displayed in the 1920s.

Australian War Memorial.  Australian War Memorial Museum : the relics and records of Australia’s effort in the defence of the Empire, 1914-1918  Govt. Printer Sydney  1927  <http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-38093256>
page 18 from  Australian War Memorial Museum : the relics and records of Australia’s effort in the defence of the Empire, 1914-1918 (1927)

It seems unlikely that the flag was von Falkenhayn’s. The curator at the War Memorial suggests it is a German foreign office flag. So it seems that the Fast Hotel had probably housed members of the German diplomatic corps, not the military officers.

Wentworth Cavenagh_Mainwaring travelled through Jerusalem in August 191 on his way to take up a post with the 2nd A.S. Hospital.

The Fast Hotel is no longer standing. It was associated with the Australian Imperial Forces in World War 2.

about 1940: Front exterior of the Australian Soldiers Club building, the Jerusalem headquarters for members of the AIF on leave. The building was also known as the Fast Hotel. Australian War Memorial image P02037.016

St. Andrew’s House (Fast Hotel), taken July 2, ’43 by Matson Photo Services. Retrieved from Library of Congress.
3 February 1941. Aussi [i.e., Australian] soldiers cheering Menzies & Blamey. Photograph by Matson Photo Service. Photo shows the Matson Photo Service store on first floor of building (formerly the Fast Hotel). Photo retrieved from Library of Congress.

References

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