An article by Mark C. Jones

British System

40  Sumatra
D-20  Jacob van Heemskerck
D-28  Tromp

I-42  Campbeltown
G-16  Tjerk Hiddes II
G-83  Isaac Sweers
G-84  Van Galen II

P-9  O-9
P-10/10N  O-10
P-14  O-14
P-15   O-15
P-19/N-54  O-19
P-21  O-21
P-22  O-22
P-23  O-23
P-24  O-24
N-39  K-IX
N-53  K-XI
N-61  K-XII
N-22  K-XIV
N-24  K-XV
N-73  Zeehond
P-332  Zwaardvisch
P-336  Tijgerhaai
P-47  Dolfijn

Escorts, sloops, etc.
F-191  Queen Wilhelmina
F-81  Gruno
F-66  Flores
T-199  Soemba
U-93  Van Kinsbergen
J-309/T-309  Douwe Aukes
J-60  Jan van Gelder
K-00  Friso II
K-251  Johan Maurits van Nassau II

H-35  G-13
H-66  G-15
H-71  Z-8
H-93  Z-7
H-97  Z-5

M-08  Willem van der Zaan
M-12  Nautilus
M-36  Van Meerlant
M-80  Jan van Brakel

Dutch System

A  Jan van Amstel
E  Willem van Ewijck
B  Pieter de Bitter
F   Pieter Florisz
C   Abraham Crijnssen
G   Jan van Gelder
D   Eland Dubois
H  Abraham van der Hulst

BK  Banckert
IS   Isaac Sweers
TH  Tjerk Hiddes
EV  Evertsen
KN  Kortenaer
VG  Van Galen
GC  Gerard Callenburgh
PA   Philips van Almonde
VN  Van Nes
GT  Van Ghent
PH   Piet Hein
WW  Witte de With

Explanation of the British System

To distinguish between ships with similar names, to make signals shorter and more secure, and to aid visual recognition when several ships of the same type were together, all ships of the British Commonwealth were assigned pennant numbers, sometimes referred to as pendant numbers.

Generally, an entire type of ship received the same flag superior though there were always exceptions. As ships were lost, their numbers were sometimes reissued to newly built or acquired ships. In a few cases, entire categories of ships like destroyers had the capital letter (known as the flag superior) changed while the number remained the same. For example, many destroyers changed from 'F' to 'G' around 1940. Early in the war many submarines had a pennant number where the number preceded the flag superior. Submarines built during the war originally received a hull number that was to double as their name. When Prime Minister Winston Churchill directed that all submarines receive a name, the hull number then became the pennant number. When ships already in commission with the Royal Navy were transferred to an Allied navy, the pennant number remained the same. Some ships do not appear to have received a pennant number. This may have occurred because the ship was not in commission long enough to have received a number, or because the ship was considered an auxiliary and not a warship. Minor combatants like motor torpedo boats did not receive a pennant number.

These pennant numbers are useful to know when looking at pictures. Though the pennant numbers were sometimes removed by censors, some pictures were taken from too far away to see the pennant, and sometimes camouflage or weather damage obscured the number, often these pennants can be used to positively identify a ship. If the ship changed pennant numbers during the war, the pennant number can help date the picture.

H.T. Lenton "Navies of World War II: The Royal Netherlands Navy"

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