Air Force Life

ENSIGN

An ensign is the flag that identifies or symbolizes a unit or organization’s history and heritage. The term is often associated with naval and civilian ships. On November 30, 1921, the Canadian Air Force ensign, identical to that of the Royal Air Forc (RAF), was unfurled for the first time at Camp Borden, Ontario.  In June 1940, the King approved the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) ensign, which replaced the roundel’s original red centre with a naturalistic red maple leaf. The ensign was retired upon the introduction of the national flag and the introduction of the Canadian Armed Forces ensign. The blue RCAF flag echoes the ensign’s design, with the national flag in the upper left corner (“the hoist”) and the roundel on the “fly”.

Original RCAF Ensign

Modern RCAF Ensign

CRUD

No mess dinner is complete without the traditional game of crud, a unique game of pool that the RCAF invented — perhaps in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador — during the Second World War.

Whether the idea for the game resulted from of a lack of pool cues or a playful volley of pool balls from one side of the mess to the other, crud makes a game of hockey look slow and gentle. Crud players run around the pool table and, using the cue ball, try to block or sink a striped shooter ball in one of the four corner pockets. It’s a full-contact sport that has spread around the world.

"DEAD ANTS"

Airmen relax in their mess, 1940.

A real oddity of RCAF mess life, the game “Dead Ants” was popular in the 1950s and 60s. An “Ant Master” was appointed at the beginning of the evening and each time he called out “dead ants” everyone in the mess was expected to fall on their backs and simulate ant expiry. The last one down had to buy a round of drinks. Anyone besides the ant master who used the phrase “dead ants” was also subject to the buy-a-drink-for-everyone rule. One could refer to the game as “deceased insects” and thus avoid the penalty.