Air Force Life

COLOURS

425 Tactical Fighter Squadron’s standard shows the unit’s Second World War battle honours as well as the battle honour KOSOVO, awarded in 2009.

They were a rallying point for the troops when armies took to the field, and losing them was a crushing blow to a regiment’s pride.  Colours — special, consecrated flags that are specific to military units — are no longer carried onto the field of battle and, over the years, Navy and Air Force units have adopted the Army tradition.

A squadron is eligible to receive its Colour, which is a standard bearing the squadron crest, motto and battle honours (if they have been awarded), after 25 years of existence. The Colour is paraded during change of command ceremonies and is kept on display at the squadron or wing, often in the officers’ mess. The Colour can only be paraded when the majority of the squadron is present.

The Royal Canadian Air Force has two Colours: the Queen’s Colour (similar to the national flag with the Royal Cypher superimposed on the maple leaf), and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Colour (a blue flag with  the Air Force crest in the centre which, at the time of writing, was  still the Air Command crest).

When a unit ceases to exist, its Colours are retired or “laid up” in the care of a suitable custodian, often in a church or a museum. In recent years, many Colours have been laid up in the Hall of Colours at the National Memorial Centre, adjacent to the Beechwood National Military Cemetery in Ottawa.

DID YOU KNOW…

On December 25, 1944, 402 Squadron was stationed in Belgium. The squadron's Spitfire Mk XIVs were out on a late mission when the pilots realized that they would not be back in time for the Christmas dinner. Returning later that evening, the pilots went to the mess hall, expecting leftovers. Instead, to their amazement and delight, they found the entire squadron waiting for their arrival. The dinner did not begin until the whole squadron was there.

DID YOU KNOW…

CF-18s participated in NATO's Operation Allied Force, an offensive air combat campaign in the skies over Kosovo in 1999. This led to the awarding of the battle  honour KOSOVO to 425 and 441 Tactical Fighter Squadrons, from 3 Wing Bagotville,  Quebec, and 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alberta, respectively, in December 2007.

CHRISTMAS DINNER

The officers serve the non-commissioned members during Christmas dinner.

A traditional morale-builder, a special Christmas dinner is held during the Christmas season at Air Force wings across Canada. Officers serve non-commissioned members a full-course holiday feast, while the youngest member of the wing becomes wing commander for the day.