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Can anyone date and place this photo, please?

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Can anyone date and place this photo, please?

Old 7th Jan 2023, 12:22
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Can anyone date and place this photo, please?

An ex-colleague airline pilot has just died, aged 88, and his daughter, while sifting through old photos, is trying to work out when and where this one was taken, and what he was doing there:



This gent was born in May 1934. It seems his only time in the RAF was during a period of National Service, during which he almost certainly got his Wings. But we don't know how old he was at the time the photo was taken. And we don't know if his National Service was straight from school or (possibly) from uni.

The semi-formal photo looks to have been taken onboard a ship - possibly on embarkation from the UK overseas for flying training. if so, Canada or Southern Rhodesia?

Thanks in anticipation...
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 12:31
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Cap badge looks post 1952 to me.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 13:03
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Hi chris,

sorry to hear about your colleague.

I can’t help regarding location-but date I reckon mid 1950’s.

My reasoning being that as he doesn’t have his wings, that picture will have been taken in his first few years of service. And after 1952 as alluded to by chevron.

Looks like he’s a Flying Officer in the photo (hard for me to be sure vs pilot officer as im looking at the photo on my iPhone).

If born in 1934 and joined age 18-ish as a Pilot officer, adding a few years to get to Flying Officer, would indicate a mid 1950’s date.

Or, if he joined as a Flying Officer after Uni, aged no less than 21, then that would suggest a mid 1950’s date.

Edited to add;

His daughter should be able to obtain his service records HERE

She should be able to obtain units he served at etc as well as when he got promoted to various ranks-which will hopefully help.

Also, details of anyone commissioning are published in the London Gazette-so that should indicate when he got his commission and in what rank he commissioned. Website HERE


Hope that helps.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 13:17
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I believe that the bottom button below the belt was removed in 1951 and although this photo appears to show one I think that it is just the belt riding up over the button normally hidden under the belt. This therefore means the photo is post 1951 and I would agree it appears to be mid 1950's given the Queen's crown on his cap.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 14:19
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Originally Posted by chevvron
Cap badge looks post 1952 to me.
Yes, and he was barely 17 at the Queen's accession.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 14:27
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Originally Posted by bspatz
I believe that the bottom button below the belt was removed in 1951 and although this photo appears to show one I think that it is just the belt riding up over the button normally hidden under the belt. This therefore means the photo is post 1951 and I would agree it appears to be mid 1950's given the Queen's crown on his cap.
Thanks. Would the change of cap have been swift after the Queen acceded in 1952, or did the wheels turn but slowly?

Is there any weather significance in what seem to be brown leather gloves?
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 15:02
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Brown 'kid' gloves were normally worn for parades etc, nothing to do with weather. They were standard issue when I got my No 1 uniform (still got mine issued in 1979 and rarely worn) but you had to buy your own hat.
Prof Plum: the rank braid appears to be wide enough for Fg Off.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 15:02
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Could that be Liverpool?
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 15:12
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Originally Posted by Professor Plum
Hi chris,

[...] I can’t help regarding location-but date I reckon mid 1950’s.

My reasoning being that as he doesn’t have his wings, that picture will have been taken in his first few years of service. And after 1952 as alluded to by chevron.

Looks like he’s a Flying Officer in the photo (hard for me to be sure vs pilot officer as im looking at the photo on my iPhone).

If born in 1934 and joined age 18-ish as a Pilot officer, adding a few years to get to Flying Officer, would indicate a mid 1950’s date.

Or, if he joined as a Flying Officer after Uni, aged no less than 21, then that would suggest a mid 1950’s date.

[...] Also, details of anyone commissioning are published in the London Gazette-so that should indicate when he got his commission and in what rank he commissioned. Website HERE

Hope that helps.
Indeed it does, Prof.

An ex-RAF friend was also unsure if the ring was broad enough to be Flying Officer.

The London Gazette has a Pilot Officer of the same surname and initials, and with a BSc, being promoted to Flying Officer, effective 8/2/59 (seniority 8/11/58). According to his own all-too-brief account, this gent was flying in an airline by 1960 and had previously done a spell on an Avro 19 (Anson) for Decca Navigation.

He clearly admits to doing National Service, which I understand was 18 months. No mention of staying on in the RAF afterwards. If the Gazette entry is he, that would imply he joined the RAF for National Service with a university degree in 1957. Could he have been immediately commissioned as Pilot Officer? I haven't found the commissioning date yet.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 16:14
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Prof Plum: the rank braid appears to be wide enough for Fg Off.
Thanks. I've just got home and looked on my tablet and agree with you.

Chris - Glad it helped. A Pilot Officer braid is pretty narrow. On an old Photograph, I think would be less obvious than in your photo.

The dates you have from the Gazette I think you can take as fact. I joined in the mid 2000's and at the time, with a degree you graduated as a Flying Officer, with direct entrants (those without a degree) graduating as a Pilot Officer. That said, things may have been very different in the 1950's - I'm sure there are plenty on this forum who's experience goes back further than mine who can assist. It is also possible to be sponsored at Uni, whereby you get commissioned as a Pilot Officer whilst studying, and subsequent promotion to Flying Officer after that.

I think a subject access request at the first link I posted earlier would really help. If your colleague is a Pre-wings Flying Officer, then knowing the date that he finished flying training (and therefore got his wings), and knowing the date of his Flying Officer promotion will help narrow down the date range.

Not sure what his daughter has - but your colleague will have been given a commissioning scroll, and a certificate when he was awarded his wings. Mine are dated so I assume his would be too. I doubt he'd have thrown those away or anything.

edited to add;

His Flying Logbook would also indicate when he got his wings, as well as last flight in the RAF. Mine had a “record of service” section at the back which details which units I served on, with dates.

Last edited by Professor Plum; 7th Jan 2023 at 16:29.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 16:33
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Based on my Father's National Service in the RAF in 1953-1955, it may have been for 2 years, rather than 18 months. Either way, the OP states that the chap's only time in the RAF was during National Service - if so, would he really have undertaken flying training if he was only in for 18 or 24 months? Maybe he did his flying training with an airline immediately post National Service?
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 16:51
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The RAF did train some National Service Pilots - they qualified for their 'wings' and left soon afterwards,unless transferring to regular service (which I am sure a proportion would have done).
When I was an ATC cadet - my Sqn CO was an ex N.S. Pilot.
Our Sqn Adj was an ex Pathfinder Air Gunner DFM or DFC.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 16:55
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Certainly possible; my father did flying training in Canada as National Service in the mid-50s on Harvards and Shooting Stars then was converted to RAF Vampires at Valley on his return. When he worked for RR after his National Service he joined a reserve sqn flying Vampires and Meteors then shortly after rejoined on a PC ending up flying Hnters in RAFG.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 17:11
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Guy Clapshaw wrote a book about his experiences as a N.S. Pilot (A Likely Story) - a very entertaining read.
One of his fellow students on his course he described as 'The Car Salesman' - I often wondered if it was my old ATC CO - as he was a senior sales exec with a large car dealership by the mid 60's
Guy left at the end of his NS service and eventually became an airline pilot with many funny stories along the way - worth reading just for his stint working for an Undertaker
IIRC Early Editions of the book might have some extra chapters compared to reprints (or is that for his 2nd book And Thats Another Story) - I have not read either for a long time.
Some of the stories may even be true
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 17:12
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Am most grateful to you guys for your speedy and pertinent responses. Yes, his logbooks - as always with aircrew - should answer many questions, if they can be found. The problem for his daughters may be that he died suddenly and unexpectedly just after arranging his wife's funeral.

If the photo above was taken when outbound for overseas flight training, I think the ring must have denoted Acting Plt Off. OTOH, if it were taken at some point on his return journey, I'm wondering if he might have already been promoted to Fg Off. But what about the Wings? if already awarded, would they not have been worn on that type of uniform?
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 17:41
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Chris,

But what about the Wings? if already awarded, would they not have been worn on that type of uniform?
Yes, wings when awarded are worn on that uniform.

Those that went overseas for training, I have no idea when they were actually awarded their wings. Perhaps when they returned to England? Then they need to head off to the tailors to have the wings sewn on.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 17:58
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Originally Posted by Professor Plum
Chris,



Yes, wings when awarded are worn on that uniform.

Those that went overseas for training, I have no idea when they were actually awarded their wings. Perhaps when they returned to England? Then they need to head off to the tailors to have the wings sewn on.
was there not a period when wings were awarded after aft? So, he could have completed bft, become a substantive Plt Off, but still awaiting wings.
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 18:00
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Oh sorry he looks like he is sporting Fg Off braid. Is the background Malta?
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Old 7th Jan 2023, 20:48
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Would agree looks like an F/O. After Basic in '63 got my wings and was a P/O so think most before me would be similar. Didn't get F/o till 2nd tour.
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Old 8th Jan 2023, 12:42
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[QUOTE=Top West 50;.... Is the background Malta?[/QUOTE]
He's in Blues; any time I was in Malta I was in KD, but I can't remember if that was seasonal.
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