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

  1. #11
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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    Thanks for the expertise! I'm in a rush now, so I hope I'm absorbing things properly.

    David, in my files this morning I found that I'd saved a thread from July 2010, from this forum, in which a much younger you replied to a much younger me with some great info about the names of the two different kinds of caps (I won't worry about the term "hats"): the "Service Dress cap" and the "Field Service cap", a.k.a. F/S cap, folding cap, side cap, but NEVER the forage cap!

    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.

    I have further questions:

    1. Regarding the F/S cap badge worn from AC2 up through warrant officer. Would it have been the metal (brass) "circular RAF wreath OA badge"?

    2. And would that metal badge sometimes have been removed? I never see it in photos of RAF men under training, where they have a white band to signify "airmen under training". It could just be the angle of the photos, but I was wondering if that metal badge on a folding cap was sometimes removed because it was an annoyance?

    3. Was the eagle and King’s crown on the commissioned officer’s F/S cap embroidered, or was it metal? I think it was embroidered.

    Sorry to rush, but I'm grateful for the replies. Thanks again, gents.

    Matt

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

    Matt,
    Those brass badges were a pain.
    On the back of the badge were two brass eyelets standing out at 90-degs to the badge. They fitted precisely through two properly manufactured/machined holes in the front of the beret. Once inserted, the badge was kept in place by inserting a sprung split pin through the eyelets.
    At Square Bashing the squad would have been ‘Halted’. The Drill Instructor would have approached one poor soul and given the command ‘Stand Easy’ (‘Ground Arms’ if carrying a Lee-Enfield .303 rifle). Then the DI would order the Erk to remove his beret. Then remove the badge. This was inspected! If the rear of the badge was not as clean/shiny as the front then the Erk could expect to have to carry out one (or two – depending on cleanliness) circuit of the drill square with his rifle held above his head!! I never got caught, having been pre-warned of this sort of thing before Basic Training.
    There is no truth in the rumour that Brasso (a UK metal polish) was delivered to Square Bashing camps in 40-gall drums!
    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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    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 04:34.
    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

    Deleted by poster request
    Last edited by paulmcmillan; 19th March 2021 at 22:54.

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

    David D (et al),
    The DI I referred to was not training my flight at Square Bashing, but a nearby flight.
    "Our" DI was an A/Cpl ? S???? (I remember his name!). He was hard, but fair. Our flight flattened a considerable area of the Hednesford parade ground. To get a series of foot/weapon drill commands performed correctly, and in unison, by what were recruits, can be extremely satisfying - if not desperately productive!!! Our Cpl S did make some of us run round the parade square with lofted rifles for minor infractions of turn-out/discipline ("Dumb-Insolence" was a favourite!) - it became a sort of game! But he did teach us the Queen Anne Rifle Salute (we (and him) practiced it (voluntarily) in our own time - what little of that there was!!!). As a result, our flight won the Drill Competition at Passout. Very satisfying. What I did not know, until later, that some considerable amounts of money changed hands in the Cpls Club when Passout Results were declared. But as some of it was gifted to E Flight Passout Alcoholic Celebration, who were we to complain? It was all good character building stuff - so they say!
    The only member of my square bashing flight I ever, later, came across was a Doctor who had just failed his finals at Bart's Hospital. In the same post were his National Service Call-up papers. He was a good guy. At the Trade Selection week they wouldn't even make him a Sick Bay Attendant. I next met him serving egg/chips as a Cook in the Airman's Mess at RAF El Adem. What a waste of valuable training. What became of him I know not!
    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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    Default Re: Formal WWII RAF caps (with visor) - questions

    Jonny, you pegged me accurately -- I never served in the military, although my professional life with the US government was in directly serving the military. My agency was filled with military, including foreign contingents from uniformed representatives from Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Great Britain. That said, I never experienced life in the military, including square bashing and so forth. I wonder how I would have made it through some of the trying circumstances, but then I know I would have endured, like so many millions did. In many ways, the discipline would have done me a world of good, though I doubt I'd have recognized it at the time!

    Thanks, jonny, for the link to the version of the F/S cap worn by trainees, and my thanks go out to yeoldbarn, too, for giving me exactly the views of the white training flash that I desired. I'll be honest -- until I saw these photos I naively thought that the white band went all the way around the cap, but now I understand. And it is also understandable why so few flashes survive in the hands of collectors.

    So, I think all of my questions have been answered, and, in addition, I've greatly appreciated recollections and viewpoints about the good, the bad, and the ugly of DIs, etc. I've always approached my research thinking, "There, but for the grace of God, go I", because it could have been me - not just being shot at or taking to a parachute at 12,000 feet, but also in all that one had to go through to reach an operational squadron. Believe me, I'm easily humbled by the exploits of the men and women who made my relatively cushy life possible. Thanks for an interesting thread, gents.

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

    Hi Matt
    Glad you got some great info and pics from the 'Lads'
    I just wanted to say that not all DI's were bad,I joined as a Halton Apprentice 'Brat' in 1970 and each Flight (Block) had a Flight Commander (often Aircrew on a ground tour or sometimes a punishment posting :) ).Each Flight Had a Block Sergeant assisted by a Corporal,we were lucky in our Flight as both our DI's were really nice guys with a great sense of humour and I will always remember with great fondness Sgt George Baker + Cpl Joe Mair.Over the whole of the 3 Apprentice Wings the quality and character/personality of the DI's varied enormously - some were nasty,vindictive and martinets of course.
    I had been a member of the Air Cadets for 4 years prior to 'joining up' so I was fairly comfy wearing the old scratchy No2 Battledress uniform (No2 BD) and was fairly comfy with multiple occupation rooms and Rifle Drill etc (although I was familiar with .303 drill and we used SLR's at Halton) - but it was a real shock for some of the younger guys - some who were only 15.5 YO,I was actually just above the age limit but the RAF was still a very pragmatic service.Some of our younger guys were so traumatised by the whole experience they will not join us for reunions or even on facebook etc.
    The Beret was a tricky hat to get to be wearable/smart and it was often great fun out on the parade square to see the various shapes and angles that different lads had attained with their Berets :),as was the case with the previous FS cap the beret could be easily shoved through ones shoulder straps/epaulettes whilst inside the mess/workplace etc and carefully folded - some of us used to place inside our jacket/overalls as a shoulder pad for firing .303/SLR as both had a fair 'kick' when fired,although one did have to be careful with the positioning of the badge :).
    My Uncle had been a pre war Cpl Stores Basher and ended the war as a Sqn Ldr Equipment Officer - he tended to refer to the FS Cap as a Forage Cap,so perhaps it was more a pre war thing for the RAF.
    As for millions of others - our lives have been totally disrupted by covid,we had booked a flight to Dulles for June 2020 to return to the Reading Airshow and do a long road trip around various Railroad and Aviation sites inc a loop around into Canada but one of our routes was within a couple of miles of your Location.

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