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Thread: Officer's cap found at a crash scene?

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    Default Officer's cap found at a crash scene?

    In reviewing the details of eye-witness accounts of the crash of Halifax NP709 on 1 Nov 1944, I was struck by this one: there was a hat found at the scene, described as a "peaked cap" which was used as evidence to identify one of the victims.

    The MREU concluded that it probably belonged to F/S L.G.Griffith, based on a partial name recorded by the Germans on his grave site

    My questions are:

    Could a peaked cap have belonged to a F/Sgt?
    Would an officer have taken his peaked cap with him on an op? (Two of the crew were F/Os)
    David

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    Hi Dave
    Look at feltwell.net and look at the Special Photo Sets no 11.There is a picture taken at Feltwell in May '42 showing several NCOs in their "best" uniform(despite the creases!!) and one is wearing a peaked cap, whilst the rest have the more common Forage cap. It depends a little I believe, on how long the peaked one had been in the Service as the forage cap is the most common headgear that appears in WW2 vintage photos.For non=commissioned personnel the badge would have been the brass RAF Crest.Both Warrant Officers and commissioned Officers had a different badge and a better quality material for the peaked cap and Uniform.
    It would not have been entirely unusual for the Service Cap to have been taken on an op and stowed in a niche whilst the Flying Helmet was put on for the flight, although one would expect that it would have stayed behind in a locker rather than gone on the a/c(a helmet would have been needed for the headphones and connection to the intercom) .
    Whether the ID of the owner was correct would depend on the badge and the quality of the material both of which would have been factors known to MRES but not necessarily the Germans at the point of contact.It might be the case that MRES reported the German findings without the chance to see the cap for themselves
    Hope this helps
    Dick

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    Thanks Dick, that is helpful. The story of the cap comes from a German researcher and no mention is made of it in the MREU reports that I have seen for three of the crew. The name was supposedly found inside the cap and then written in chalk on one of the grave markers with a "?" added.

    So the name was provided by the German side but where on the cap they found it, I don't know.

    There's a real conflict here between the MREU reports, which suggest strongly everyone was killed in the crash, and eye-witness reports that two of the men survived and later turned up dead.

    The investigation continues...
    David

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    The airman's peaked cap would tend to indicate pre-war service or at least obtained from a pre-war source. It was not common apparel during the second world war. Uniform hats were sometimes carried, depending in individual preference, in case of a/c being diverted.
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Just an observation here, but as most of the crew were RCAF, were they issued with peaked caps, a la Americans? I know their uniform was styled pretty much along RAF lines but thought I'd ask, just in case!
    Do you have a crash location now? Is this where 2 gunners were reportedly seen alive then later found dead?

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    Hi Kevin,

    Yes, this still NP709, which crashed on its way back from Oberhausen. We have a location but I haven't plotted it yet. I will get back to you on it.
    David

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    Just a matter of official nomenclature, but the officer's peaked cap was known as the SD (for Service Dress) cap, and the normal wartime airman's cap was known as the Field Service (or FS for short) cap. The latter was made from a fairly coarse woollen serge material, while the officer's FS cap (and the SD cap) were made from a fine melton material and had a totally different badge as has already been pointed out. Incidentally the airman's FS cap badge was NOT the "crest" of the RAF, but simply the stylised letters "RAF" within a "wreath" (not the correct term, which I cannot recall, but you know what I mean!) of entwined (oak?) leaves surmounted (or officially ensigned) with the crown of the reigning sovereign. However I agree with most of the other contributor's offerings on this subject.
    David D

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    Default Cap carried on an operational flight

    I believe airmen were supposed to carry their caps with them because if they landed at another airfield for whatever reason they could be charged for not being in uniform!!

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    Thanks guys, very interesting. The thing with this cap is that, if the MREU was correct in fitting it into their explanation of the fate of Sgt. Griffiths, the mid-upper gunner, it begs the question of why a non-com was carrying an SD and not an FD cap.

    I note that some of you have referenced the possibility that it belonged to a non-com but I would have thought for them to be "in uniform" upon landing at a strange field, it would have been sufficient to have their FD.
    David

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    It would have been sufficient. As an aside, generally the MoD do not consider 'named articles' to be sufficient evidence of identity. People tended to swap/borrow items. Likewise, the cap (whatever form it took) could have been second hand.
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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