RAF Officer’s Tropical Jacket

Despite wearing anything that was comfortable in forward areas, the RAF did have an official tropical uniform for its pilots that was designed to mirror their blue grey service dress worn back in England. Like other British military uniforms of the period it was made of khaki drill cotton cloth and when clean and starched could look exceptionally smart; equally it could take on a distinctly dishevelled appearance in the hands of veteran officers. As officers bought their own uniforms, there are a large number of variations on the tropical jacket, but all are broadly similar and this example, although post war, is typical:imageAs can be seen the tunic is made of a khaki cotton, with four brass King’s crown RAF buttons down the front:imageThere are four patch pockets, the upper pair having pleats and a scalloped top:imageThere is a waistbelt, secured with a standard removable brass buckle:imageThe sleeves also have a distinctive cuff:imageInside the jacket are a pair of removable shoulder pads (I will leave you to add your own jokes about RAF officers’ vanity!):imageThe shoulder boards are stiffened and secured by a split pin. This example has the single lace of a Pilot Officer:imageThere is a tailor’s label inside the jacket:imageFrom this it can be seen the jacket was made by Herbert Chappell Ltd of London for a Pilot officer AJ Rose and the date of 10th February 1953. The London Gazette records an A.J. Rose being promoted from Pilot Officer to Flying Officer on 8th January 1955 and lists his number as being 3514140. Whilst I cannot confirm this is the same man, it seems likely considering the time frame and the nature of the promotion. By 1958 this olfficer was listed as being in the Royal Air Force Reserve of Officers list. It is interesting to observe how this uniform was still being made with King’s crown buttons after the asscension of Queen Elizabeth II to the throne, clearly it took time for the new insignia to be produced and disseminated to all the tailors who needed them.

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