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Thread: Research Tidy Up [Sortie kit / equipment]

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    Default Research Tidy Up [Sortie kit / equipment]

    Does anyone have a definitive list of the kit / equipment issued to bomber command crews 1944/1945 for each flight?
    We assume that they wore their working uniforms and then added the following in the locker rooms:
    - socks
    - leather jacket
    - leather trousers
    - boots
    - gloves (woollen, silk, leather)
    - leather helmet (with oxygen mask)
    - heated suited (for air gunners)
    - parachute harness
    - parachute
    - Mae West

    Additionally, does anyone have a definitive list of the WAAF rations issued? We currently have:
    - sandwiches
    - raisins
    - barley sugar bars
    - chocolate bar
    - orange juice
    - coffee

    Any help on this one would be appreciated
    Last edited by PeteT; 21st January 2012 at 10:50. Reason: Error in listing

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    A few things for 'Operations' - not in any order:

    - Boiled sweets in a bag
    - Horlicks tablets in a small tin
    - Large 'Thermos flask' for crew.
    - Whistle, often seen attached to right lapel of battle-dress.
    - Torch, the 'right-angled' type
    - Navigational equipment for navigator
    - Survival/escape tin/box - waxed matches etc
    - Compass concealed in uniform trouser buttons
    - Silk escape map/s for area operating in concealed in uniform sometimes collar

    I understand the lrvin leather sheep skin lined trousers were only used by gunners and that was rare due to the confined space they had to work in. Hope this helps.

    Norman
    Last edited by namrondooh; 21st January 2012 at 11:47.

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    Flying kit changed drastically from the wars start to the end. For example, the Irvin suit (sheepskin lined leather jacket and matching trousers) was worn more in the early part of the war. Some crews continued to wear the jackets but the trousers largely fell out of use. Full length 'Sidcot' flying suits were also worn, and specifically for gunners, the yellow 'Taylor' bouyancy flying suit. This suit did not need a mae west.

    A variety of electrically heated clothing was often worn under the flying suits, either 'waistcoat' style or full length, and if not them, a quilted 'teddy bear' lining.

    Regarding parachute harnesses, there were four main types. Early war there was the Harnessuit, a canvas jerkin with built in harness. By about 1943 though the only types worn were a seat type (with attached pack under the bum) for pilots and some gunners, the chest type (with clip on chest pack) for general crew including pilots and gunners, and the backpack type, specifically for Halifax gunners.

    There were also a few oddities such as microphone heaters that clipped inside the oxy mask, and hoods (for gunners). Goggles were quite often worn too.

    Navigators usually carried canvas 'nav bags' containing their charts, logs and tools, whilst some flight engineers also carried a toolbox on board.

    As for other items, soup was common, a wide variety of escape and evasion items (photos, saws concealed in laces, 'escape boots', compasses concealed in collar studs, battledress bucles and in escape its, etc).

    And dont forget mascots!

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    A personal item carried by some air gunners was a home made tool to clear jammed guns, on a length of string tied to finger or wrist so that it could be recovered if dropped by frozen hands.
    Another item, again not issued but available, dinghy plugs of various sizes, tapered wooded pegs to plug punctures in dinghys. A big jar of them in the briefing room, stuff a handful in the pocket when grabbing some boiled sweets.
    Gloves, early war ones were gauntlets, not sure about 1944-45 issue.
    Ian Macdonald

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    Ian, the dinghy plugs were in the dinghy kit, both the large ones carried in Lancs and the like, and personal one man dinghys which were clipped to the parachute harness, although interesting to hear they were in a jar in the briefing room.

    Gloves were generally leather gauntlets, but actually three pairs were worn. The first were silk, then chamois and finally the leather gauntlets. Additionally, fingerless wool gloves could be worn over the chamois ones. Others available (especially for gunners) were an electrically heated rayon glove under leather ones.

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    Thanks to everyone for your feedback ... I haven't managed to get immersed in this one yet as I have been focussing on my other thread regarding initial kit.

    I have broken the list down as follows:

    Clothes worn
    - socks (3 pairs?)
    - flying jacket and trousers (or suit)
    - scarf (silk or wool)
    - boots
    - leather gauntlets and inner gloves (woollen, silk, chamois)
    - warmers
    - leather helmet (with oxygen mask / goggles)
    - heated suit (for air gunners)
    - parachute harness
    - Mae West
    - whistle
    - identity tags (x2??)

    Items carried:
    - parachute
    - boiled sweets (or were these WAAF rations)
    - dinghy plugs
    - mascots
    - torch
    - maps / charts / logs
    - tool kit (FE)

    Escape / Evasion Container (carried by each crew member?)
    - razor blades
    - matches in waterproof case
    - fishing line, leaders and hooks
    - horlicks tablets
    - water bag
    - heliograph
    - fire starter tabs
    - compass
    - saw blade
    - photos (for fake passports)
    - chocolate
    - chewing gum
    - condensed milk
    - adhesive bandage
    - bendrazine
    - halazone
    - "Liver Toffee"
    - paper currency

    Hidden "escape" items (very interested in finding out more on this)
    - compass
    - silk maps

    WAAF Flight Rations
    - sandwiches
    - raisins
    - barley sugar bars
    - chocolate bar
    - orange juice
    - coffee

    Any further thoughts from anyone?
    Last edited by PeteT; 25th January 2012 at 22:15. Reason: Update

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    Pete

    With regards clothing it really depended on the airman, what the weather was and where he was in the aircraft. For example, in the harsh winters of 1943/44 layers of clothing would be needed even on the ground whilst during the long hot summer, basic kit would be worn. Likewise, in a Lanc for example, the rear gunner might be sitting in -20 degrees in his turret while the wireless op was sitting next to the warm air outlet.

    So it would be a mixture of the things noted, with the addition of a scarf (wool or silk). As for boots, the 'escpae' boots (1943 Pattern) were fairly standard by the end of the war, but in 1943 - 45 the 1940 or 41 Pattern was still widely worn. They are the brown suede ones usualy seen, the difference being that the 41 Pattern had the addition of a leather strap around the ankle designed to keep the boot on in the event of a bail out (as they tended to come off).

    The escape kit also contained several passport type photos of the airman and a small saw blade, chocolate, chewing gum, horlicks tablets, tube of condensed milk, roll of adhesive bandage, bendrazine and halazone, and even 'Liver Toffee' whatever that was!

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    I have updated the list in post #6 to reflect your comments ... the only thing I could find on liver toffee was "think bovril but liver flavoured and in a chewier form ... not nice !"

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    My apologies Pete, I forgot to mention paper currency was also carried in the escape kit.

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