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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 04:21. 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 07:44. Reason: Tidying up a bit.

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

    "yeoldbarn, your firm info is duly noted. I will take it that during the war only the F/S cap was worn through the rank of warrant officer, and then when the promotion to commissioned officer (pilot officer) came through, a man purchased a Service Dress cap ("officer's pattern cap" is your wording), which had an embroidered cap badge (not the metal one seen too often on the web), and he may have opted for an officer's F/S cap - which contained an eagle and King's crown."

    Warrant Officers wore the same type of Field Service Cap as commissioned officers but any other NCOs wore the issued serge wool field service cap with the circular RAF badge. (Barathea officer's cap with crown+eagle badge, which would be individual cast brass pieces not embroidered) In the RAAF/RNZAF world, some Warrant Officers wore the officer pattern cap with a Warrant officer's brass badge (metal cast badge). By officer's pattern cap, I mean a standard RAF cap with a clothed visor, opposed to the 1939-style OA's serge wool visor cap with a black plastic visor.

    To put it succinctly:

    AC2 --> Flight Sergeant

    Issued serge wool field service cap + OA badge (A 1940 issue field service cap from personal collection)




    Warrant Officer

    Officer pattern field service cap (From D.Farnsworth's collection)



    Pilot Officer --> Flying Officer

    Officer pattern service dress visor cap (Originally owned by a DFC RCAF Spitfire/Hurricane pilot from personal collection)



    Officer pattern field service cap (From D.Farnsworth's collection)


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

    I have it straight now -- again, thanks to the experts (who I knew would chime in with good responses).

    Although I've found examples of several alleged "World War II" Service Dress caps for warrant officers on the web with the brass eagle-King's crown-laurel branches, not the embroidered patch, I will assume that these are either fakes, exceptions to the rules, or they belonged to RNZAF or RAAF men (per yeoldbarn's expert information) but were not presented as such on the web. I have amended my writing to state that my RAF airman, as a warrant officer, possessed the F/S cap with the two metal badges and did not have a Service Dress cap.

    One last query, possibly best answered by yeoldbarn. It involves the F/S caps worn by aircrew in training, which had the white band around the top. In every photo I think I've seen, I cannot see the brass crest (the "OA badge"). Can you point me to any websites which show trainee F/S caps-with-white bands but also the brass OA badge? Or can you send me an image via either my email or through my Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/matt.poole.750)? Members of this forum can get access to my email address...I think...I hope. Peter (Davies) described the pain of annoyance these brass badges could cause when the Drill Instructor wanted to put the young trainees to the test, so I'm guessing that most trainees would have kept the badges in place, for fear of incurring the wrath of the DI should he spy a missing crest on an F/S cap.

    Things like RAF caps may seem trivial, but everything in what we pursue is trivial, and some of the smallest details, when wrong, misrepresent history and undermine a lot of painstakingly accurate work. So while it is often difficult to be a stickler for details, trying my best to be accurate is always my goal. Thanks to all for help!

    Cheers,

    Matt

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

    The drill instructor as recalled by Resmoroh (Peter) sounds to me like a right martinet, the sort of crazed zealot who makes up his own rules so that he can then enforce them. In other words the sort of NCO that should have been drummed out of the service after having all his badges and buttons removed, for the crime of reducing morale, and wasting time and suchlike idiotic shinnanagins dreamed up by such utter jerks as himself. There was nothing in dress regulations that said the reverse of the badge had to be as polished as the obverse; in wartime it would have been an offence to go into action with polished buttons or badges, but I gather Peter's martinet was peace-time (although may have served during the war). My uncle met such a jerk in the wartime RNZAF who had to be removed from his post as his actions were causing a great deal of sickness (heavy colds, etc.) by insisting that "his" recruits have "razor edged" folds in their blankest, etc on their bed packs; he was clearly a lunatic who loved to inflict such nonsense on volunteers. The recruits in this instance chose to sleep on the cold, hard floor in the middle of winter in unheated and unlined huts rather than have to unfold their bedding to suit this clearly deranged idiot (who held rank of F/L). Officers usually left SNCO's to "get on with it", and so this sort of behaviour was allowed to flourish. Such men as these were occasionally murdered for their troubles, or at least thrown into a nearby river by their victims, usually in the dead of night. Incidentally, the wartime (WW2) practise of fitting white "peaks' to F/S caps was usually confined to "Aircrew under training", although in peacetime it was often used to denote simply "under training" as worn by various officer cadets, etc, including the wearing of white cap bands on SD caps.
    David D

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

    Matt,

    Your query about removing cap badges suggests to me that you have not served in the military (not a criticism!). I'm not sure who suggested it to you, but trainees / recruits don't / didn't go round on mass removing items of uniform, such as cap badges, because they wanted to adopt a 'stream-lined' look. The white insert to the FS cap for trainee aircrew was not designed to cover the badge anyway, so wandering around without a badge on your hat would have been fairly obvious and would have earned people an exceptionally hard time.

    https://www.historicflyingclothing.c...ash/prod_14873

    Rgds

    Jonny
    Last edited by jonny; 4th March 2021 at 05:34.
    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

    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 08:23.

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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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