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Fritz

Royal Air Force and Air Training Corps

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Here are some vintage souvenirs of the Air Training Corps. The beret is the standard R.A.F. pattern as still worn today, some of the other items are obsolete. The badges were usually chromium plated and not particularly attractive, this example is an earlier one in white metal, of better quality. The beret has the standard black cotton lining and is minus the cellloid patch, which is usually the case with well worn examples. Berets were always freshened up by submerging them in a bucket of cold water and later letting them dry continually forming them into shape until dry, this was the least harmfull method of cleaning. The battledress jackets and trousers were always ironed under a damp cotton handkerchief, the trousers and jacket sleeves having a smart crease. Some profis used to coat the inner of the crease with a fast drying glue like UHU or Pattex and then iron from the outside, the crease always stayed perfect, this was officially frowned upon. The battledress jackets were of the woolly 1949 pattern and worn with a blue RAF shirt with detachable collar and a suitable black tie. The trousers were a plain pattern in matching material, however, no patch pockets and could also have been worn with the dress tunic, so were probably not specificly battledress type. These were worn with an RAF type tunic belt, which however had a chrome buckle, which was worn turned inward, so as not to be seen. Boots were of the old type of the early forties, all leather and with a toecap, usually worn with 13 studs and horseshoe irons, which made the required sound on the parade ground. These boots had always to be kept immaculate, with mirrorpolished caps, and had to be acquired privately. The battledress was worn with two shoulder flashes, AIR TRAINING CORPS embroidered on bluegrey, beneath which was the squadron designation, in this case 27F - F being one of the original founder squadrons from the late thirties and early forties. This Sqn. was stationed in Chingford, Essex (now greater London). No further equipment was provided. Some NCOs were permitted to wear a blue 37 pattern webbing belt, which they had to provide themselves.
RAF pattern greatcoats could be worn with chrome ATC buttons, and had to be provided by the wearer himself, but were not worn in 27F Sqn

Rank Badges worn:
Cadet: No special badge
Cadet 1st Class: Star as specified
Corporal: As per RAF two chevrons on each upper sleeve
Sergeant: Three Chevrons on each upper sleeve
Flight Sergeant: Three Chevrons on each sleeve, surmounted by a white metal kings crown
Warrant Officer II: Lower sleeve large crown in a wreath
Warrant Officer I: Officers uniform, each lower cuff had an embroidered Royal coat of arms, collar each side with a brass VR over a T - Volunteer Reserve, Training, cap as per Officers pattern, with badge as officers, but in gilt brass with a red velvet layer behind the crown (usually Queens crown)

Some special badges were worn such as marksmanship badge or glider pilot badge.

However, on going to Summer Camp (Leamington Spa)  or other outward excursions, extra items of equipment were provided, standard was the RAF haversack with strap, which was all blue blancoed and with brass fittings, in this was kept the groundsheet, folded in regulation plattern and tucked in, entirely filling the haversack. For parades, whitened 1937 pattern gaiters and webbing belts were worn, the rifle with a white blancoed carrying strap. The standard rifle was the Number 4 Mk.1 (wartime dated), no bayonets were issued. For manoevers and on board an aircraft, a regulation bluegrey cotton overall was issued. This had buttondown ankles and cuffs, a buttoned flyfront and a turndown collar, worn over the battledress.

Second picture shows the contemporary shoulder flashes - missing are only the Sqn. designation patches (27F, etc.). Two examples of the rank badge for "Cadet 1st Class", only one of these was worn on the upper left sleeve - here one mint example, the other used and slightly faded. An RAF tunic buckle in brass, these were worn as chrome plated - but not visibly. A standard RAF other ranks cap badge with kings crown, pre 1952 (WW2)

An old photo showing the typical dress of the late 1960s period.

In a way, it wasn't much different to going to school. Motto: Venture - Adventure

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A postwar RAF battledress blouse and early postwar airman's trousers as worn with No.1 Airmans Jacket - this combination was worn by many squadrons of the ATC in the late 60s and early 70s - it is the traditional old woolly serge, which has a nice quality to it. This example has been completely stripped of all insignia apart from the buttons, which are all correct - all buttons are dished plastic type, apart from those on the two breast pockets, which are standard RAF pattern and with a king's crown, as still worn in later years. There is some nasty moth damage to the left cuff facing, which is otherwise the most decorative and distinctive feature of the tunic. The rear has two concealed button holes for fastening to the trousers, but fits only onto the battledress, however, the other combination as mentioned was so worn by the ATC, together with a regulation RAF blue shirt with detachable collar and a suitable black tie. Maker's label dating from 1952. The beret was worn as shown in previous picture. A serge cloth tunic belt with a chromed buckle in reverse was worn as a trouser belt under the blouse. Toe-capped army boots with full leather studding were worn. Belts and gaiters were only worn on special occasions, and were whitened, the brass fittings highly polished. Missing on the tunic are the shoulder flashes AIR TRAINING CORPS, beneath which were worn a small 27F patch each side for the squadron designation. (moth damage to left cuff facing can be seen in photos, two larger, one smaller hole). On my list of "to does" for invisible mending.

A pair of immediate postwar Airman's trousers dating from 1948, these have black plastic dished buttons instead of the earler brass ones, otherwise identical to wartime issue, some moth in certain places. The inner heel area of the trouser legs have been reinforced with leather to prolongue wear. Note high tapered waist and trouser back, typical of earlier period pieces and not as present day clothing.

This set was purchased in Berlin around 2008.

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Maker's label dated 1948 and a WD Arrow stamp and 39 (?)

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Leather inserts/protectors to rear inner leading edges of trouser legs.

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Waist buttons for wear with braces.

 

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An RAF officer's cap badge, gold bullion and red velvet, pre-1953, presumably wartime.

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RAF other ranks's cap badge, kings crown, mint, unissed, nice gilding to front (pre 1953)
RAF pilot's wings (KC), however, a copy (this was found inside the front pocket of the battledress depicted!)
RAF signalman's arm badge, a woven type copy purchased to complete an airmans uniform, on which badge was missing on one arm,
worn in pairs

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Reverse of cap badge showing fixing lugs, no gilding to reverse

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Wartime worn RAF overseas cap, badge showing lots of wear.

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Both original RAF buttons to front flap

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WD Arrow and 1937 date in liner

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Split pin fittings to cap badge

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A 1944 dated airman's tunic, simplified or economy pattern.   Has a 1-year overseas service stripe to left cuff, rank badges for a Leading Aircraftman (Lance Corporal) and a ribbon bar with the 1939-45 Star, the Burma Star and the Defence Medal. These have a plastic coating to keep them clean, typical early post-war configuration. Shirt and tie are not original!

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Right sleeve with the wartime printed eagle on black cotton backing, signalman's badge and Leading Aircraftman,
both latter on dark blue wool background

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Left shoulder as before, the signaler's badge has been removed, impression still visible.
Both eagles face outwardly.

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1-year overseas service stripe on left cuff.

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Pocket detail, all correct vintage buttons, early post-war ribbon bar with plastic coating, the underlying ribbons are of an economy type paper-like material

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Tunic rear with brass belt hooks

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Maker's label with 1944 date

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Tunic inside, simplified without lining

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A matching tunic belt, this example unissued and with original maker's label and 1942 date.

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Some severe moth damage to underlying front skirting, not noticeable when buttoned

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