RAF Leather Shoulder Holster

Shoulder holsters are comparatively unusual in British military service, most hand guns being carried on the hip or perhaps the thigh. One service that did make quite extensive use of the shoulder holster however was the RAF as aircrew flying over hostile territory needed a side arm for personal protection but it needed to be out of the way when flying and the holster could not interfere with the operation of an aircraft. In the Cold War the standard firearm was the Browning Hi Power automatic and a russet brown leather holster was issued to aircrew to allow this to be carried under the arm:imageThe holster is a simple open top design, with a leather securing tab that goes over the pistol’s back strap and secures with a metal stud:imageTwo positions are offered as the pistol sits in different positions within the holster depending on wether a spare magazine is carried or not. A folding soft chamois leather pocket is sewn into the interior of the holster that can carry a spare magazine:imageThe holster is fitted with a long strap to go over the wearer’s shoulder:imageThis being adjusted by a small white metal buckle:imageThe base of the holster has a small tab that can be passed around the waist belt to hold the holster secure, a metal press stud being fitted so the whole belt does not need to be removed every time:imageThis holster was used by at least two different aircrew in its life, the most recent was a Sergeant S Morris of 201 Squadron:imageThe name of a previous user is visible underneath, but is too faint to read.

During World War II, 201 Squadron flew Sunderland flying boats until it was disbanded in 1957. The squadron was reformed at RAF St. Mawgan, when No. 220 Squadron RAF was renumbered to 201 Squadron. The squadron flew the next twelve years with the Avro Shackleton MR.3, a version that used a tricycle undercarriage as opposed to the earlier tailwheel variants. Following the Shackleton’s retirement, the squadron converted to Nimrods in October 1970.

The squadron was active for over a decade in the Gulf region, in support of both Gulf War 1 and 2 and more recently the conflict in Afghanistan. Until March 2010, the squadron was also on active duty in the UK and maintained continuous 24-hour/365-day search and rescue standby, shared with the sister 120 Squadron, both flying from RAF Kinloss. The Nimrod MR2 was withdrawn in March 2010, and the squadron was formally disbanded on 26 May 2011. It had been preparing to operate the Nimrod MRA4 but this aircraft was cancelled under the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review.

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