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Vis (Split-Dalmatia, Croatia)

Grad Vis

Last modified: 2004-08-14 by dov gutterman
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The city of Vis is the largest settlemet on the island of the same name about 60 km southwest of Split, population 2,200 almost all living in the city itself. Vis is the outermost large island and was always an important strategic point and a naval base. In the Napoleonic times it was taken by the British, who built the fort of St. George there. It is know for the battle by Vis (in the western sources better known after the Italian name Lissa) of 1866 when the Austro- Hungarian fleet defeate the larger Italian fleet thus securing the supremacy in the Adriatic. Vexillologically this was important for the development of the A-H naval flags - the admiral's flag of Rear Admiral Tegetthoff is preserved today in Vienna Military History Museum. In the second world war to Vis was moved the general staff of Tito's Army in 1944, and it was the center of the liberation movement and government until the liberation of Belgrade. Several important treaties and decisions were made by the authorities there, for us most interseting that a number of flag related legislations and decisions regarding the Yugoslav flag with the five-pointed star and the ensigns. Anyway, after the WWII Vis was made a stong naval base forbiden for foreigners and the ban was lifted only in early 1990's - sicne when the tourism is in bloom.
The coat of arms of the city of Vis is a blue oval with St. George killing the dragon within golden braoque cartuche.
The flag is white with the coat of arms in the middle.
Zeljko Heimer, 4 August 2004

Vis Island

I was reading on BBC-online today about the island of Vis, off the Dalmatian coast, which apparently was occupied by the British briefly during the early 19th century. Did the island have a flag during this occupation? And has it had one since?
James Dignan, 23 May 2004

The island of Vis and I believe one other island too, Lastovo (in Italian: Lagosta), I suppose, was occupied by the British forces in early 19th century. Vis was held by Venice from at least 15th century. in 1797 it was taken by Austria and in 1805 Napoleon occupied it for France. The British conquered it in 1811 and held it until 1814 when it was returned to Austria. It was an important fort in the so called Continental blocade of Napoleon. French lounched a strong attack in 1811 to regain it, but were defeated.
On the sea near Vis was held in 1866 a great battle between the Italian and Austria fleet for the control over adriatic. The Austrian fleet of 27 ships commanded by Admiral Tegetthoff met the Italian fleet of 34 ships commanded by Admrial Persano, that were bombarding the island and it suffered a big loss, so that Austria gained supremacy over Adriatic until its end. Vexillologically this battle is interesting because of the flags employed by both sides that were meticulously recorded and shown in numerous paintings. The admiral's flag of Tegetthoff is still preserved today in Vienna Military History Museum, as I reported not so long ago (I think).
After the World War the island of Vis became part of the South-Slavic state as part of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia, as part of the Coastal Banate (Primorska Banovina), and par of Banate Croatia after its formation in 1939. In 1941 it was occupied by Italy and was then ceded to it by the Rome Treaties (with which Pavelic gave up the most of the Dalmatia to Italy as payment for gaining power in Croatia). After the Italian capitulation in the 1943  partisan units that were resisting the Italians in the coast of the istland took the entire island and it was held until the end of the WWII. In 1944 the Tito's headquarters was moved there and Vis was organized as a great stonghold. A British commando brade with over 1000 troops was also included in the defence of Vis and some other Allies naval units. Vis was functioning as the political and military center of the liberated territories until the liberation of Belgrade in late 1944. After the WWII the island was retained as the military stronghold and was forbiden for foreigners until 1990's. The recent opening of the island for tourism mean that it is a jewel preserved and unexplored and is among the most popular tourist destinations on Adriatic sea.
Now, about the flags, I do not believe that there were any British flags designed specifically for the Island (or British possessions on Adriatic as a whole). I believe that the brief british presence was only as a military garrisson, and therefore the white ensigns would have been used (probably was hoisted over the fort built there by the Brits). I would be most interested to hear what could be found in the British records regarding this, of course.
Today the island of Vis is administratively organized into two cities in the Split-Dalmatia County, dividing the island in half almost in line North-South. The easter helf is the City of Vis and the western is the city of Komiža, that also include small outer islands of Biševo, Sv. Andrija and Palagruža, and several smaller unihabited cliffs.
Both cities have their coat of arms and the flag adopted in 1990's. The coat of arms and the flag of Komiža are in its page.
Zeljko Heimer, 23 May 2004

In British records "Vis" would be referred to as "Lissa". It is more likely that any British flags would have been the Union Jack which was flown on forts or castles, and the Red Ensign which was the ensign of naval ships operating independently of a squadron. Ships of a squadron would have flown a Red, or White or Blue Ensign depending upon the rank of the admiral in command of the squadron.
David Prothero, 24 May 2004