Friday, December 9, 2011

Another Scottish Variation on the Beret: the Tam O'Shanter

Like the Balmoral, the tam o'shanter is a bonnet, related to the beret worn by (Scots)men. It was named after the character Tam o' Shanter in the poem of that name by Robert Burns. The bonnet is made of wool with a toorie (pompon) in the centre, and the crown is about twice the diameter of the head. Originally they were only made in blue because of the lack of chemical dyes, and were called Bluebonnets. They are now available in plain colors or in different tartans.
A form of Tam o'shanter called the "General Service Cap" was worn during WWII by the infantry regiments of the British and Canadian armies instead of berets (which were made standard in the postwar years). They were plain khaki in colour and were stiffer than civilian tam o'shanters. Today, the Scottish Division and some regiments of the Canadian Forces continue to wear the Tam o' Shanter (abbreviated to TOS) as their 'battle headdress', it has a narrower, flat crown, with Highland battalions shaping theirs sloping down from back to front and the Lowland battalions wearing theirs with the excess material pulled to the right side, similar to a beret.
Some regiments of the Canadian Army wear different coloured toories: the Royal Highland Fusiliers of Canada have traditionally worn dark green; The North Nova Scotia Highlanders wore red toories during WWII; and the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Highlanders wore blue. Most regiments wear a khaki toorie, matching the hat.
In many regiments, it is traditional for soldiers to wear a tam o'shanter, while officers (and in some cases senior non-commissioned officers) wear the Balmoral or Glengarry instead.

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