Museum staff regularly receive questions about the flags on display around the World War One Sanctuary. It is generally stated that the flags represent those who signed the Treaty of Versailles on the 28th of June 1919. But this is not correct. Given these curious decisions and some notable omissions, we needed to do more digging to solve the mystery of the flags.
We have found that staff and volunteers have created a few stories to explain why some flags are included or are missing. The most consistently perpetuated myth is that Great Britain signed on behalf of the Dominions and that is why Australia, Canada and South Africa are not represented in the flags as the Union Jack covered all of the Commonwealth.
In fact, these Dominions all signed the Treaty as co-signatories under the British Empire, but a decision was made to have the Union Jack to represent them in the display, with the New Zealand Ensign (flag) being a later addition.
Another anomaly is that the Chinese flag is included despite not being a signatory - their diplomats did not attend in protest against the settlement in the Shantung province.