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Thread: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

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    Default Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    This is for something being written up for the family of a 159 Sqn Liberator (India) wireless op/air gunner.

    He attained the rank of flying officer. I'm trying to describe all of the RAF dress hats with the visor (what is the common name for these?), from when he entered the RAF as an AC2 in 1940 until he separated from the RAF in 1946 as a flying officer.

    I do know that in this period all hats had the king's crown, in honor of the King, not the Edwardian? crown which came into existence with Queen Elizabeth's coronation.

    I had been under the impression that there were only TWO styles this airman would have worn during the war:

    1. The one with the brass crest reading "RAF" below a small king's crown -- for wearing from his AC2 until his commissioning as a pilot officer;

    2. The one with embroidery of an eagle, wings spread, beneath a larger king's crown -- worn by this airman when he was a pilot officer and flying officer.

    However, something just showed up in google -- a third style, this one specifically for warrant officers, and definitely from the war years with a king's crown. It's from an auction -- which means "buyer beware" -- and states, "WW2 Royal Air Force Warrant Officers Service Dress Peaked Cap complete with gilt metal cap badge." Maybe it's letigimate, maybe not.

    [EDIT: No, maybe there were only two styles. I think the one from the auction has the same eagle/king's crown as I'd been led to believe were only on the PO and FO hats.

    FURTHER EDIT: This website says that there were three hats in WWII: http://www.theocadcollection.com/bri...ap-ranks.html]

    Might an expert chime in with the definitive truth of WWII caps of this style? I only need to know what was worn by airmen ranked AC2 through flying officer. There is a fair amount of bogus info on the Internet, so I am hoping to hear from someone truly in the know.

    Many thanks,

    Matt
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 3rd March 2021 at 03:21. Reason: Clarification

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    Thanks for that link, jonny. I can use it for the language -- "service dress cap" and "field service cap" -- but that site just leaves one guessing about whether a wartime warrant officer's service dress cap was different than a commissioned pilot officer's or flying officer's service dress cap. On pg 5, a 1954-pattern hat is shown that is "very similar" to earlier hats. That doesn't mean it's the same, nine years after the war's end. On pg 21 is a 1986-pattern warrant officer's service dress cap, but that's over 40 years after the war ended. While it may exactly describe the wartime warrant officer's cap, it may be a different design, for all I know.

    I have seen other examples of alleged wartime warrant officer caps online, and IF the info is accurate, there was a difference between a warrant officer's cap and those of a pilot officer and flying officer -- the metal badge versus the embroidered one. Though I'll bet that the WO service dress cap was, indeed, different from the PO and FO service dress cap, I'm still hoping for more definitive information.
    Last edited by Matt Poole; 3rd March 2021 at 06:44. Reason: Tidying up a bit.

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    Service Dress caps for Other Ranks and Warrant Officers were terminated in 1939 and re-introduced into the Service Dress in 1952.

    In terms of side caps/wedge caps/field service caps, he would've worn an issued serge wool side cap with a circular RAF wreath OA badge.

    Your man would've purchased an officer's pattern cap (clothed visor cap with embroidered cap badge) when he was commissioned as Pilot Officer and he may have opted in for a barathea officer's side cap with an eagle + King's crown badge.

    Been collecting these things for years...
    Last edited by yeoldbarn; 3rd March 2021 at 07:23.

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    I think you will find that RAF commissioned officers in WW2 (and for many years thereafter) were ALWAYS required to obtain a Field Service hat IN ADDITION to the Service Dress cap. This would be decreed in the official list of clothing items required by all commissioned officers (depending on rank of course), and same would be the case for Warrant Officers (and of course, also for airmen, including NCOs), although all those below commissioned rank would have these items issued - they did not "own" them. And in case you were wondering, during WW2, Mess Dress items were NOT required by commissioned officers (except in the Far East theatre prior to late December 1941). Mess Dress was not required at all by OA (Ordinary Airmen) and NCOs prior to the late 1940s/early 1950s. You may also have gathered that Berets became popular in the RAF as a replacement for the F/S cap in about 1946/47. Afraid I cannot recall the difference between a "cap" and a "hat" in the RAF, but some knowledgeable member will soon by along to point out my deficiencies in this department!
    David D

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    Just to add that of course there were nicknames/unofficial names for most things in the services.
    The field service cap was sometimes known as a 'Forage Cap' or 'Chip Bag' (although I am not sure if 'Chip Bag' was WW2 or post war use).

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    The RAF Regiment was issued with berets in late 1943.

    Add on:

    "Chip bag" is a post-war term.

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    The Beret was officially adopted as standard headwear in 1948.
    But it was worn semi officially/unofficially prior to that.

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    Quote Originally Posted by bvs View Post
    The Beret was officially adopted as standard headwear in 1948.
    But it was worn semi officially/unofficially prior to that.
    Apart from the RAF Regiment, who followed the Army's lead, and wore it officially from around mid-war onwards.
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    Yes indeed Jonny
    The Rock Apes were always more like the 'Pongos' than the rest of the 'Brylcreem Boys' :)

  11. The Following User Says Thank You to bvs For This Useful Post:

    Resmoroh (3rd March 2021)

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