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Thread: 607 Sq - the Coal Miners

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    Default 607 Sq - the Coal Miners

    I am trying to find an old reference to 607 Sq being called "The Coal Miners" in pre-war days, and in response adopting black overalls. I think it belongs in the 50s or 60s.

    I have been pointed at "Eagle Day" by Richard Collier (how appropriate!) but I don't think this is the one I recall - it suggests mauve overalls, which I don't think is right. However, any other reference as to why the unit chose mauve and stone for their colours rather than the more usual primary colours would also be appreciated.

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    hello,

    I remember a picture in the book "21 Squadrons" of Gladiator pilot Blackhadder (1939-40) in black flying overalls, but I can't tell if this could be the reason.

    Also, 607 was County of Durham Squadron. Weren't there coalmines in that area ?

    http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=county+of+durham+coal+mines&meta=&a q=f&oq=


    A book about the Squadron has just been released : 607 Squadron - A shade of blue, by Robert DIXON, 95 b & w pictures, 160 pages, softback, as per the last Midland Counties catalogue. I've been briefly in touch with the author many years ago, as he wanted to locate precisely a picture taken in a village in France, may be near Vitry-en-Artois.

    Joss

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    This posting follows reading Robert's book: when asked about it he denied any knowledge of the story. Yes, there are just a few coal mines in Durham, I grew up in places surrounded by them. The story is perfectly logical, but was it actually true at the time or was it some imaginative writer's back-justification for the black overalls? Having told Robert the story, I would rather like to find out where I got the idea from.

    Robert's book does not contain the photo of Blackadder, though it is in Peter Cornwell's The Battle Of France: Then and Now. Robert does include a photo of other pilots in these overalls, including a clear one of Kyall.

    I'm told 21 Squadrons does not include the story, at least in the second edition.

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    The photo of Francis Blackadder was left out of my book as an editorial decision: there are others of him. The black flying suits seem to make an appearence on 607 Squadron circa 1939. There is no official/unofficial reason why. Personally I think it was only to combat the mud and dirt of France. Not all of the squadron pilots wear them. The photo at the heading of the Blackadder article in a current magazine, shows Blackadder and Monty Thompson in these suits. This was from a series of photos taken by the press in France, 1939 early 1940.
    Pilots of 607 Squadron, certainly prior to WW2, were of a certain class: that they worked in mining is fanciful to say the least: owned the mines maybe.

    Best Wishes.
    Robert.

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    I don't think that the comment (if it existed prewar) was anything more than a witticism (It's grim up North) than a serious suggestion. A bit of a jocular put-down of Northern gentlemen from their Southern counterparts. And to wear black flying suits would be a suitably witty response. Had it really been an internal name, they would have been The Pitmen, anyway. I wouldn't put it past originating in 608 Sq......but no, I'm not suggesting any evidence to that effect.

    However, a mining engineer could legitimately be called a miner, couldn't he?

    I don't think your black flying suit theory holds up: black shows up dirt too much, and the normal service brown flying suit would have been better for that purpose. Plus natty squadron badges wouldn't have been involved.
    Last edited by Graham Boak; 26th November 2008 at 19:14.

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    However, a mining engineer could legitimately be called a miner, couldn't he?
    The short answer to that is 'certainly not'. Miners were a species of their own, engineers were management. A comment like that, in my part of the world would have earened you a black eye during that period.
    The black flying suits: I have seen these on pilots of 603, 602 and 616 as well as many Hurricane pilots in the battle of France. I can only presume it was part of the tone down for war however. Squdron badges were a squadron thing and 607 Squadron always wore theirs, as did many other squadrons. Thats only my opinion based on what I have. Worn as an 'in joke'? I would say no.

    Best Wishes.
    Robert Dixon.

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    Fashion perhaps? They would have been called chimney sweeps in Poland.

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    Franek,
    The wheel turns full circle! When the jet engine came in, those who had to do things up the jet-pipe were known, in the RAF, as "Sooties"!!
    Rgds
    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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    You see! I believe that the fashion is a forgotten factor. I know that for example in the Polish pre-war Army there was a fashion to wear sand coloured uniforms instead of regulation khaki. One Polish tank brigade was so desperate to look different way, so they wore old style M16 German helmets!

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    Yes, I agree entirely that "fashion", or perhaps a drive to mark the individual team identity, is very common in miliary circles. I noticed this when researching Operation Pedestal, where each Sea Hurricane unit can be identified by the individuality of their markings. This is partly why I feel that the "Coal Miners" story has strong internal credibility, and regret not being able to find the original comment. I'm convinced that Richard Collier's version is complementary rather than being the original.

    Northeagle's identification of other dark flying suits clearly makes the story less likely to be true, which switches attention to its origin. However, I would point out that I lived on the Durham coalfield for the first twenty-one years of my life - it is "my part of the world" too! There is more to mining than hacking away at the coalface, whatever the snobberies and inverted snobberies attached.

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