On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, MTS conservators are remembering a very important flag we recently treated that flew on a US Coast Guard ship the USS Centaurus, which serviced Pearl Harbor and other sites in the Pacific theater.
The USS Centaurus was an attack cargo ship which was at the battle Okinawa in April and June, 1944, and supplied Guadalcanal in the fall of 1944. Guadalcanal is located in the Solomon Islands, and was won back from the Japanese during a six month campaign from August 7, 1942 to February 8, 1943.
Together with a second U.S. Coast Guard Museum flag from Guadalcanal, the Centaurus flag was removed from the old backing fabric, vacuumed to remove any particulates, and humidified to remove wrinkles and folds. Both flags have signs of insect damage and are tattered at the fly ends from use. The Guadalcanal flag has such extensive fraying that servicemen had tied the strips of wool into large knots. Some of these knots were untied by conservators prior to mounting but the others could not be loosened.
Both flags were pressure mounted in order to minimize the amount of conservation stitching required. Quarter-inch archival Polyfelt from University Products in Holyoke, Massachusetts, was used to create a soft surface. The padding was voided beneath the knots and thick binding edge to provide a more even pressure mounting. The padding was placed on a solid-support panel from Small Corp, Inc. in Greenfield, Massachusetts, and covered with cotton fabric. The flag was then hand stitched to the fabric-covered mount around the perimeter and along several stripes. A small Corp UV-filtering acrylic box was used to complete the pressure mount.
The conserved WWII flags returned to the US Coast Guard Museum in summer, 2011, and are among the favorite items requested for display at ceremonies and other Coast Guard events.