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Thread: Armbands

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    Default Armbands

    Hello all

    I'm currently sorting and scanning pictures from the effects of Ken Hughes with a view to including them in a memoir based on a draft found after his death. Various questions arise, some of them of a personal nature which won't be resolved but also some which you chaps may be able to answer. In this case I have a formal group photo in which the servicemen are variously wearing armbands or bands in their caps. Ken (standing second from left, second row back) has a band in his cap. What do these arm and cap bands signify?

    See the picture here

    'm guessing that this picture was taken in late 1940 or thereabouts and that these are new pilots before they have been assigned squadrons. Ken went to 79 squadron when he became operational. Feel free to disagree with any assumptions though.

    Thanks very much.
    Last edited by Jagan; 19th June 2019 at 03:38.

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    Hi

    Firstly I doubt these are new pilots because whilst most are Sergeants none of them are wearing flying badges. Newly graduated pilots would have been awarded their 'Wings' and promoted to Sergeant at the same time.

    Some are wearing a white hat band which should indicate that they are trainee aircrew, or have been selected for aircrew training, so as they are already sergeants I suspect they are all ground tradesmen. The armbands could be a local feature indicating an orderly duty or special status.

    Malcolm

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    1. Not Brevet in sight.
    2. No white arm band wears a white insert in his forage cap.
    3. Not an officer in sight.
    4. White forage cap insert = POM (Potential Officer Material)?
    5. White armbands on Salisbury Plain = DISTAFF (Directing staff).
    6. Rather a lot of Staff for a simple Square Bashing pass-out?
    7. Fascinating?
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

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    Thanks for these responses.

    No brevets - of course, so obvious...!

    Maybe pre the award of wings, a class photo? Ken became a pilot serving with 79, 87 and 3 squadron so he certainly wasn't a ground tradesman. He did start in the Volunteer Reserve before his commission. Would that have a bearing on this puzzle?

    Cheers
    Pete

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    I cannot see any photo Petemac

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    Oh. Does the link in my first post not work for you? It works on my computer.

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    Pete

    Did Ken train in Canada and was he commissioned as an officer before joining a squadron?

    Malcolm

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    No, Malcolm. He trained here and after call-up went to the Initial Training Wing, Magdalen College, Cambridge and then Hatfield. He was commissioned Pilot Officer in 1941 while with 87 squadron though the memoir is patchy on dates.

    Cheers
    Pete

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    Hi Pete

    Hatfield was only an EFTS so where (which SFTS) did he complete his training on service types.

    My question on Canada was based on this page http://www.211squadron.org/js_mitchell_dfc.html

    I wonder if your photo shows a class just about to receive their Flying Badges, 'Wings' (not brevets), so have already 'put up their strips' and those with the armbands have been selected for commissioning but as these have not yet come through they remain sergeants. There was perhaps confusion whether the white cap bands should be removed or not.

    Malcolm

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    Thanks for your continuing interest, Malcolm

    After Hatfield he went to a Pre-fighter Course at Sealand and then on to Aston Down to learn on Hurricanes in October 1940. He writes that his Wings Parade was at Aston Down, where they drew new uniforms and were disconcerted to discover they had to sew their wings on themselves.

    I think you may be right about the class and their stage of training. I've now collected together a number of pics which all show Ken without wings (all equally youthful), a couple of which are smaller line-ups with a 'winged' officer (instructor?) with them. They don't have armbands/brassards in those pics.

    That link is very interesting indeed, and does seem to shine a light on my picture. It would suggest that the brassard could be linked to the new uniform issue, and maybe this is a photo at Aston Down around the time of the Wings Parade.

    We're probably not at a definitive explanation of the hat bands but this has been most useful in helping me organise the pictures!

    Cheers
    Pete

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