By Camille Myers Breeze
One of the most challenging flags that we conserved for the General George Patton Museum of Leadership is Patton's Western Task Force flag. The hoist binding is covered with signatures of the General and his men, whose victorious attack against Nazi forces in North Africa Allies concluded on November 18th, 1942. (Read Captured in Casablanca.)
From the front, the flag looks like all the others we have conserved. If you look at the back, however, you can also see all of the signatures on that side of the hoist. Here's how we accomplished the challenging task of making sure all of the men's names can be studied.
First, the flag was positioned on the panel and the location of the cut out was determined. A solid line was drawn on the aluminum in Sharpie marker. Holes were then drilled at the corners to allow the jig saw to pass through. Once the section was cut out, we the irregular and sharp edge were sanded with fine sand paper on a block.
The cut out was sealed with aluminum tape, which provided a solid wall inside the cut out. Thin archival padding was then double-stick taped to the inside wall. A finished edge to the cutout essential, so we ironed 3-mil BEVA film to strips of mounting fabric to make them heat sensitive. The strips were then ironed on to the panel.
Like all flag mounts, this one was covered with 1/4-inch archival polyfelt. The padding was then voided to match the cut out. The panel was covered as usual with khaki cotton fabric, which also needed to be voided. When this was complete, the flag was positioned on the mount and pinned in place. The flag was hand stitched to the panel along the hoist binding first to insure perfect alignment. The cut out was eventually covered with Melinex, attached with double-stick tape, to prevent the flag from being touched.
The signatures on the underside of the flag hoist are now visible, however the security guards in the Patton Museum will probably get upset if everyone squats on the floor and tries to crawl behind the brackets that hold each flag at a 45-degree angle. If you are a VIP scholar, however, all of the signatures are now accessible for study.