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5.   International Tartan Day - April 6th

Jenn Gearey, Canada's Air Force, 6/4/2008


The Air Force tartan, or Scottish plaid, designed with blue, maroon and some white color, was adopted by the Air Force (Royal Canadian Air Force' at the time) in 1942 by the Lord Lyon King of Arms of Scotland and is still used proudly - from clothing to airplane dcor - today.

"The RCAF Tartan has been used as curtains in Air Force transport aircraft dcor, drapes in messes and other institutes and as wearing apparel, such as the tie worn by Air Force Association members with the blue blazer and grey slacks," says Captain Brendan Bond, an Air Force historian at 1 Canadian Air Division. "Additionally, Air Force Personnel continue to wear an Air Force Tartan cummerbund and bowtie with their Mess Kits."

The distinctive Air Force tartan has been worn by both wartime and postwar Air Force pipe bands, and continues to be worn today by Canadian Forces Air Command and other Squadron pipers and drummers.

"It symbolizes the proud Air Force Heritage of those who served before us, and continue to serve with distinction today and in the future," says Capt Bond.

The search for a tartan began in Prince Edward Island at a Robbie Burns Night' mess dinner when a Nova Scotian Commanding Officer with Scottish ancestry decided that an Air Force Scottish Highland pipe band should be established and that their dress should be as colourful as a Scottish tartan but with Air Force colours.

Without delay, the Commanding Officer began to sketch a tartan design and using red and blue pencils, a sample tartan was created and sent for approval through the Air Force.

In May 1942, the Air Council viewed the sample tartan, accepted it with minor changes relating to the shades of blue, and the Air Force tartan was then officially registered in Scotland in August of that year.

Some dispute exists regarding the degree of involvement between two firms in the creation of the tartan.  Some have indicated that the Loom crafters of Gagetown, New Brunswick created original samples, others contend that the firm of W.M. Anderson of Edinburgh was commissioned to design the tartan and he chose to model it on his own Anderson clan tartan.

One thing is for sure however.

"The RCAF tartan was the first from outside of the British Isles to be recorded in Edinburgh, Scotland by Lord Lyon, King of Arms," says Capt Bond.