U.S. Navy Signal Flag "Baker" marked "USS ARIZONA"
This plain red swallow-tailed signal code flag is labeled with the pre-war identification "USS ARIZONA" was recovered from the USS Arizona (along with ZFC3841). After study by the Zaricor Flag Collection (ZFC) Research Group two possibile explanations resulted for this Code Baker signal flag and its companion US Ensign (ZFC3841) which were either in or on the USS Arizona during the surprise Japanese attack 7th of December, 1941 at Pearl Harbor Oahu, Hawaii, U,S, Territory Naval and Army Air Corp bases.
The signal flag was conveyed to Admiral Issac C. Kidd's widow at a memorial service held at the U.S. Naval Academy Annapolis, Md. not long after the attack. It is likely that it was laundered before it was presented to the widow of the commander of Battleship Division One, U.S. Pacific Fleet. Rear Admiral Issac Kidd, died on the bridge of his flagship on 7 December 1941 for which he was posthumously awarded the U.S. Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award in all the armed services. The flag was with other items from the USS Arizona, recovered from the admiral's cabin, were returned to the widowed Mrs. Inez Kidd of Annapolis, MD. along with his Annapolis Class Ring that was discovered fused to the bridge bulk head wall during salvage inspections following the attack. Admiral Kidd died at his station on the bridge and this was the only evidence of his remains.
One theory is that the flag was recovered from a submerged compartment or flag locker in a part of the flooded amidships to stern area of the ship.
A second possibility presented by the flag's previous owner, The War Museum of New York City, is this "Code Baker" signal flag, (indicating "danger") was displayed on a signal hoist aboard the USS Arizona owing to her proximity to an ammunition barge tied up to the USS Nevada, moored a scant 250 feet astern of the Arizona. It was and is, standard procedure to hoist Code Baker when ammunition, fuel or other dangerous supplies were being loaded or unloaded in the vicinity of the ship. This signal indicated that the "Smoking Lamp" was out, i.e. No Smoking are open flames were to be put out. There is an eyewitness account from Seaman 1st Class Clinton Howard Westbrook of the Arizona that the Nevada and launched in her vicinity were flying the Code Baker Signal Flag just prior to and during the attack the attack and it is likely that the Arizona was as well.
The "Code Baker" flag was used by the U.S. Navy, and navies the world over, to indicate "I am carrying, loading or discharging dangerous goods." The presence of a "Code Baker" signal automatically indicated "No Smoking" on or about a vessel, launch or barge displaying the flag.
Since the signal was hoisted, then it is entirely possible that this flag was torn from the signal halyard by the force of a blast from one of the four direct 800 kg bomb hits or three near misses that struck the Arizona during that attack, two of which exploded amidships on the port side near the signal hoist. Since this signal flag's header is torn along the hoist edge, and it is missing its snap, ring and hoist rope usually found on such flags this theory was the more likely correct explanation as to why the flag received its damage.
The flag is heavily stained, likely from the effects of immersion into the "toxic soup" that the waters of Pearl Harbor became after the attack when the vessel filled with a mixture of seawater, fuel "Bunker-C" oil, aviation gasoline, hydraulic fluids, and unexploded cordite, the deleterious effects of which are readily apparent. It appears that after recovery this flag was folded when still wet, causing the symmetrical stains.
The flag's hoist inscriptions are appropriate to the period as a known pre-war and early war practice. As research continues into this and the other known USS Arizona flags it is hoped that more will be revealed about flag routine aboard the ship.
• U.S.S. Arizona recovered from the ship after the 7 December 1941 attack and sinking, 1941.
• Mrs. Isaac Kidd [Inez Nellie Gilmore Kidd (1888-1978)], wife of Rear Admiral Isaac Kidd, presented to her at the time of his memorial, until her passing. Estate sale, circa 1978.
• Steve Slaght, Militaria Collector, 1978. 1978 - 1996
• The War Museum, New York City, 1996 - 2013
• Sold via Bonham's of New York City, NY to Zaricor Flag Collection, 2013.