Original WWI British 1918 Royal Air Force Officer Named Uniform Set - Rare
Original Item: Lieutenant A.J. Richardson wore this uniform in October 1918. In fact this was known as the interim uniform that transitioned from the RFC to the Pale Blue RAF that was began issue in 1919.
There was only an 8 month window that this uniform could have been made as it was the very first RAF issue as opposed to the Royal Flying Corps. From April 1918 through December 1918 this Olive color wool uniform with leather sleeve trim reinforcement was issued to officers in the RAF.
This example offered in truly exceptional condition features first generation RAF brass buttons, leather sleeve cuffs, lace sleeve rank of Lieutenant, with brass eagle and crown and wonderful embroidered RAF wings stitched to the left breast. The maker label in the tunic reads:
High St, Oxford
& 39 Sackville St.
Piccadilly. London . W.
Also included is wonderful first generation RAF peaked officer’s cap with maker label and the name A. Richardson found inside the leather sweatband. Also, a pair of nearly unissued jodhpurs with suede leg pads and excellent buttons. Finally a photocopy of A. Richardson’s reassignment orders dated October 22nd, 1918 just a few weeks from the close of the Great War.
With the establishment of the Royal Air Force as an independent service on 1 April 1918, orders were issued detailing new uniform patterns. Major General Mark Kerr designed the first officer uniform which was largely pale blue with gold braid trimmings. Additionally, the Royal Flying Corps' use of khaki was continued. It has been suggested that the pale blue color was adopted as the cloth had been intended for use by the Imperial Russian Cavalry and, following their disbandment after the Bolshevik Revolution it became available at low cost. As it was the responsibility of officers to buy their own uniforms, a wearing-out period for old uniforms was allowed and the change-over to the air force uniform was slow.
The 'wearing out' period also applied to other ranks. Former members of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service continued to wear their old uniforms. New recruits into the newly formed Royal Air Force were often issued with the olive green Army Pattern General Service Tunic. Later in 1918 a belted olive green uniform was adopted and it was these tunics that first carried the RAF eagle badges on the breast.
The pale blue color for officers' uniforms was unpopular and impractical and John Slessor who was later promoted to Marshal of the RAF described it as "a nasty pale blue with a lot of gold over it, which brought irresistibly to mind a vision of the gentlemen who stands outside the cinema". A little over a year after its introduction, the pale blue color was discontinued. On the 15 September 1919, Air Ministry Order 1049 replaced it with the blue-grey color which has remained in use to this day.
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