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#1 cpatrick

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 06:21 PM

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This would be my first post with a picture, so I thought that I would share with you guys one of my rarest uniforms. This is simply top notch. It's not a US uniform, but it's later affiliation with a 4th FG pilot would make this appropriate.

This 2nd pattern, British RAF Battledress belonged to a currently unidentified Squadron Leader in the RAF’s famed Eagle Squadron. The fighter pilot that this belonged to was no doubt an RAF Ace, as he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. To be eligible for this decoration, as an officer he would have to have had a minimum of 8 aerial victories, which is an outstanding record by itself. He was also awarded the Distinguished Service Order, 1939-1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star, Defense Medal, and the War Medal 1939-45. The uniform has his side cap, with an enlisted man’s RAF badge attached to the side. (Unusual for the fact that it is not an officer’s crest, but it is original to the grouping.)

The gentleman that I purchased this from also has the pilot’s medals, and his Chocolate Brown Army Air Force officer uniform, from when this pilot switched over to the 4th Fighter Group, 8th Army Air Force. (Mighty Eighth) He has agreed to hold on to the group until I am able to come up with the funds to purchase them.

For those that may be unaware, there were only 234 Eagles in the Royal Air Force. This is one of those uniforms. The Eagle Squadron was a volunteer group of American pilots, mostly civil, who volunteered to fight for Britain during, and after the Battle of Britain. They participated in ground strafing runs in France , and Northern Europe , losing almost a third of their number in the process. They served the Crown from roughly 1940 until late 1942, when the surviving members switched over to the 4th Fighter Group, Mighty Eighth. The first American Ace of the Second World War came from one of the three squadrons comprising the Eagle Squadron. When they became pilots in one of the three squadrons in the 4th Fighter Group, they kept up their “whoops-rump” reputation by maintaining a shoot-down victory record that was unbeaten by any other fighter group in the 8th Air Force.

I just need an RAF officer’s shirt, tie, and battle dress trousers. If anyone has a spare Spitfire or a Hurricane laying around, I will take that as well.

.

#2 cpatrick

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 06:21 PM

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#3 cpatrick

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Posted 14 February 2007 - 06:22 PM

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#4 JBFloyd

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 05:21 AM

As far as I know, the only American among the Eagles who earned a DSO was Chesley Peterson, who commanded 71 Squadron. A representation of his full award entitlement is attached below.

Peterson never would have worn this uniform -- he never qualified for the Defense Medal and the War Medal came along long after he departed the RAF.

I'd want some serious documentation if this is being offered as one of Peterson's uniforms. Peterson's medals have been in a private collection for 20+ years.

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#5 Ricardo

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 05:29 AM

Hi Patrich,

The overseas cap presented is of NCO and the RAF BD is of Officer.

Best regards,

Ricardo.

#6 Ricardo

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 05:43 AM

More information about Chesley G. Peterson:

Peterson was the first American fighter pilot to win both the U.S. Distinguished Service Cross and Britain's Distinguished Service Order -- each country's second- highest military decoration. He also was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, five U.S. Air Medals, the French Legion d'Honneur, RAF Medallion, Legion of Merit (1 oak leaf cluster), American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, WWII Victory Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Airforce Longevity Service Award, Distinguished Service Medal and the Purple Heart.

Fonts:

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http://usfighter.tri...om/peterson.htm

http://www.fourthfig...e/peterson.html

http://www.eaglesqua...s.php?album=234

Best regards,

Ricardo.

#7 Allan H.

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 05:45 AM

Perhaps Dom, aka AAF8 can make a comment here, but I am having serious reservations about this uniform as well. As a serious collector of RAF items, I would have a few issues with this BD.
For starters, I am not very impressed by the ES signs on the shoulders. One would think that a man at the exalted rank of Squadron Leader would have paid to have the BD professionally tailored and the insignia professionally applied. I am rather surprised to see the ribbons applied singly, as the norm would be for them to have been sewn together on bars and then stitched to the tunic. Perhaps some O.R. Johnny might have worn a couple of ribbons this way, but for a Squadron Leader to look so slovenly? Not Bloody Likely!!!
The wing, though an issue piece, is not one that I would expect to see on the walking out BD of a Squadron Leader. I would have expected to see a padded wing with a nice curve to the wings.
Two other things-
Tht OR's wedge cap looks like a nice WWII example, though the pattern remained the same well after the war. The thought of a Squadron Leader wearing it is again, so out of place as to be considered to be ridiculous.
I am with Mr. Floyd on this one, you really need to have some VERY solid provenance if you are going to be spending the money that an original grouping of this magnitude commands.
Allan

#8 aaf8

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 06:03 AM

Perhaps Dom, aka AAF8 can make a comment here, but I am having serious reservations about this uniform as well. As a serious collector of RAF items, I would have a few issues with this BD.
For starters, I am not very impressed by the ES signs on the shoulders. One would think that a man at the exalted rank of Squadron Leader would have paid to have the BD professionally tailored and the insignia professionally applied. I am rather surprised to see the ribbons applied singly, as the norm would be for them to have been sewn together on bars and then stitched to the tunic. Perhaps some O.R. Johnny might have worn a couple of ribbons this way, but for a Squadron Leader to look so slovenly? Not Bloody Likely!!!
The wing, though an issue piece, is not one that I would expect to see on the walking out BD of a Squadron Leader. I would have expected to see a padded wing with a nice curve to the wings.
Two other things-
Tht OR's wedge cap looks like a nice WWII example, though the pattern remained the same well after the war. The thought of a Squadron Leader wearing it is again, so out of place as to be considered to be ridiculous.
I am with Mr. Floyd on this one, you really need to have some VERY solid provenance if you are going to be spending the money that an original grouping of this magnitude commands.
Allan



Allan,

I sent private comments already regarding the BD. I have to agree with the comments posted. Since it's obvious that this wasn't Peterson's, it is unlikely that it's legit. The ES patches appear to be correct, but that's about it.
Unfortunate as it is this is probably a put-together.

Dom

#9 Lee Ragan

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 06:05 AM

When did Peterson retire from the U.S. Air Force ? A National Defense Service medal with star indicates he had to have remained on active duty at least until the Vietnam War was underway. Strange he had no Korean War of Vietnam War ribbons. I'm not saying this couldn't have happened, just it's a bit strange for a senior officer to have served in those two eras, and not have been to either Korea of Southeast Asia.

#10 Allan H.

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 06:12 AM

Allan,

I sent private comments already regarding the BD. I have to agree with the comments posted. Since it's obvious that this wasn't Peterson's, it is unlikely that it's legit. The ES patches appear to be correct, but that's about it.
Unfortunate as it is this is probably a put-together.

Dom


Dom,
I am willing to bet you a beer that both ES patches face the same direction rather than facing forward (matching right and left). These really look to me like the "Patch King" US made examples with a white cheesecloth backing. They have been trimmed down considerably.
Allan

#11 JBFloyd

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 07:29 AM

Maj Gen Peterson retired in 1970 as Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence on the CINCPAC staff. As I recall, he spent the Korean War years in South Africa (air attache) and Washington, DC, so no Korean service.

Peterson presented an unusual problem to the Air Force. He was the youngest colonel in the USAAF and never reverted to a lower rank after the war. So, in 1950 he was a 30 year old colonel when his peers were much older. The Air Force had to do something with him until he aged a bit. He stayed in grade as a colonel for 21 years. Just before he was promoted to brigadier general, he was relieved of command of the 8th Fighter Wing and made Chief of Staff of 5th Air Force. Obviously the relief had no effect on his career.

#12 cpatrick

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 10:51 AM

Well, I have to say that I am a little surprised. As I had mentioned to aaf8 in a private message, anything is possible with this uniform. Since I, nor the previous collector has been with it for the past 60 years, it is hard to say. However, I am not giving up yet. If all else fails, I will get a refund, or an equal trade on this.

I had recognized that fact that the hat was a bit of a puzzlement to me, but that is what came with the battle dress, so here it is.

I first want to point out that absolutely nothing on this jacket glows under a black light, including the patches.

The patches are not facing the same direction, they are opposite. One faces frontward, the other faces to the back. I know that Patch King began their production quite early, but I want to point out that close inspection of the patch shows that they are indeed old, and in no way look to be reproduction, or trimmed.

Secondly, I wanted to address the wings. Other than design, I am not sure why a "hump" in the wings, as opposed to a smooth arc would dictate what a Squadron Leader would have worn. Given my limited knowledge of RAF items, I would certainly be open to further discussion on that.

The ribbon bars pose a different situation. I had made no claim that this jacket belonged to Peterson - it was implied that the jacket was modeling Peterson's awards, which raised serious doubt. I have to say, you have shaken my branches on this a little bit, causing me to question the same things that you have. However, as I said, I am thinking of other possibilties as well.

Could it be that this belonged to a British officer who was awarded the DSO BEFORE coming to the Eagles, or perhaps afterwards? This would indicate that the AAF uniform that was offered was a marriage, but I would like to concerm myself with this item in question for now. (Authentic or not) It is my understanding that the defense medal, war medal, etc, was awarded to any person who had served a minimum of a few months in the war, under the Crown, was elegible. (Anytime from 1939-45) I would think that any Eagle would have been eligible to wear the medals? (Maybe I am wrong?)

Also, the fact that the medals are sewn on the way that they are does not concern me too much, as it is a well known fact that soldiers, especially officers, were known to have a great degree of individualality. This is the true for US uniforms, perhaps the British as well?

So, in the end, my question to you is this: Is it feasable that this could have belonged to one of the British pilots who saw service with the Eagles? This would make sense...

Chris

#13 JBFloyd

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 11:50 AM

It is certainly possible that it could have belonged to an RAF officer, but the Eagle patches would have come off in 1943, when they went to form the 4th Fighter Group.

The Defense Medal required 3 years of service generally. Both the Defense and War Medals came along well after the Eagles left the RAF.

#14 cpatrick

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 01:00 PM

So this may not neccesarily be a bad piece then? If anything, I should be cautious to its 4th FG affiliaition. Since most officer's had more than one uniform, I would think that this still would be correct - in theory. Like many things in our collections, we do not know all of the circumstances regarding our pieces - in this case, why the patch stayed on. I think that further research regarding the British officer's that were in and out of the ES during their service will be neccesary to nail this down. I just don't want to raise a ruckus with the gentleman that this came from, if indeed there is another explanation. Your opinions on here, though unpleasant, have helped out tremendously.

Chris

The site that I had retrieved the data information from stated that only a few months service was require to earn the medals - but we all know that not everything in "print" is deemed reliable.

#15 Allan H.

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 01:05 PM

Chris,
I want to address these points that I feel need to be discussed, so will break your response down so as to not miss anything.

I will start by stating that I do not have a great deal of experience with Eagle Squadron items other than to have had the opportunity to examine pieces in established collections and with great amounts of provenance. I have had a number of discussions with Warren Carroll (author of "Eagles Recalled," considered to be the bible among RAF brevet collectors) and I do believe he can vouch for my opinions and experience in the realm of RAF collecting. My comments however, aremy own, and I will stand up and take credit or blame for anything that I say here.

Well, I have to say that I am a little surprised. As I had mentioned to aaf8 in a private message, anything is possible with this uniform. Since I, nor the previous collector has been with it for the past 60 years, it is hard to say. However, I am not giving up yet. If all else fails, I will get a refund, or an equal trade on this.


This is entirely the reason for my initial response. I was taking it that you were completing a deal for this pieceand for others from another dealer, and my opinion is that you are on the verge of being cheated.

I had recognized that fact that the hat was a bit of a puzzlement to me, but that is what came with the battle dress, so here it is.


As I stated in my earlier post and as was echoed by Ricardo, the cap is absolutely an OR's cap, and as such would NEVER be worn by a serving officer. I am not saying the cap is a fake, simply that itdoes not "go" with the BD.

I first want to point out that absolutely nothing on this jacket glows under a black light, including the patches.

The patches are not facing the same direction, they are opposite. One faces frontward, the other faces to the back. I know that Patch King began their production quite early, but I want to point out that close inspection of the patch shows that they are indeed old, and in no way look to be reproduction, or trimmed.


Your description of the ES eagle patches are exactly what I was saying. They are NOT a matched pair as a correct set of these eagles would have the beak pointed towards the front on both sleeves- a mirror image just like the eagles worn by RAF OR's (except on theirs, the eagles point to the back of the wearer). British embroidery is not typically executed as machine made with cheesecloth on the back, and the few originals that i have seen appear to be hand embroidered just as the formation signs worn by the army back in the day were hand embroidered. I am not saying that these patches are fakes, just that they appear to be from the hoard discovered some thirty years ago where all of the eagles face to the right. As for the trimming, one would have to compare one of these "unissued" pieces with what is on your jacket for a size comparison. The ones on your jacket appear to be square, where the uncut examples are decidedly rectangular. Ptach King patches exist during World War II, and many of the earliest "fakes" of German cloth were made by them for sale to patch collectors during the war.

Secondly, I wanted to address the wings. Other than design, I am not sure why a "hump" in the wings, as opposed to a smooth arc would dictate what a Squadron Leader would have worn. Given my limited knowledge of RAF items, I would certainly be open to further discussion on that.


What I was trying to say in my previous post is that I would expect a Squadron Leader, as an officer and a gentleman, to procure a uniform and insignia befitting his rank and status. Most RAF officers from the BoB period would have been from families that would have had sufficeint means to be able to afford the rank that they wore. The flat pilot wing is indeed an original WWII era wing, but not one that I would expect to see worn by anyone other than an OR pilot.

The ribbon bars pose a different situation. I had made no claim that this jacket belonged to Peterson - it was implied that the jacket was modeling Peterson's awards, which raised serious doubt. I have to say, you have shaken my branches on this a little bit, causing me to question the same things that you have. However, as I said, I am thinking of other possibilties as well. ...

Also, the fact that the medals are sewn on the way that they are does not concern me too much, as it is a well known fact that soldiers, especially officers, were known to have a great degree of individualality. This is the true for US uniforms, perhaps the British as well?


Chris, I am going to have to disagree quite strongly here. British ribbons are almost always worn made up onto bars and sewn to the uniform as a group. This is one area where the British military differs significantly from their American cousins. First, British awards have traditionally been handed out quite sparingly and are worn with great pride. British medals are held in such high esteem that even after military service, they are often seen being worn with dress clothing. Unlike American medals, which are often found with soiled, worn and faded ribbons, British medals are found with new ribbons. When ribbons become soiled, they are replaced, and medal bars are remounted. Any tailor worth his salt in London would haveplenty of ribbon on hand and would be quite adept at mounting medals and ribbons. I just cannot fathom a Squadron Leader not wearing the most immaculate uniform in the Squadron (or at least come a close second to the Serjeant Major).

Perhaps Jeff could chime in here as I am sure he has handled quite a number of British medal and ribbon groups.

Could it be that this belonged to a British officer who was awarded the DSO BEFORE coming to the Eagles, or perhaps afterwards? This would indicate that the AAF uniform that was offered was a marriage, but I would like to concerm myself with this item in question for now. (Authentic or not) It is my understanding that the defense medal, war medal, etc, was awarded to any person who had served a minimum of a few months in the war, under the Crown, was elegible. (Anytime from 1939-45) I would think that any Eagle would have been eligible to wear the medals? (Maybe I am wrong?)

So, in the end, my question to you is this: Is it feasable that this could have belonged to one of the British pilots who saw service with the Eagles? This would make sense...
Chris


I believe that Jeff has already given a good account of the ribbons and the lack of feasibility that this jacket could have been worn by a Briton rather than a Yank.

I still hold the firm opinion that you are being cheated here and that you need to be seeking a refund. That is my sole reason for stepping in with my comments.
Good luck!
Allan

#16 aaf8

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 04:20 PM

Chris,
I want to address these points that I feel need to be discussed, so will break your response down so as to not miss anything.

I will start by stating that I do not have a great deal of experience with Eagle Squadron items other than to have had the opportunity to examine pieces in established collections and with great amounts of provenance. I have had a number of discussions with Warren Carroll (author of "Eagles Recalled," considered to be the bible among RAF brevet collectors) and I do believe he can vouch for my opinions and experience in the realm of RAF collecting. My comments however, aremy own, and I will stand up and take credit or blame for anything that I say here.
This is entirely the reason for my initial response. I was taking it that you were completing a deal for this pieceand for others from another dealer, and my opinion is that you are on the verge of being cheated.
As I stated in my earlier post and as was echoed by Ricardo, the cap is absolutely an OR's cap, and as such would NEVER be worn by a serving officer. I am not saying the cap is a fake, simply that itdoes not "go" with the BD.
Your description of the ES eagle patches are exactly what I was saying. They are NOT a matched pair as a correct set of these eagles would have the beak pointed towards the front on both sleeves- a mirror image just like the eagles worn by RAF OR's (except on theirs, the eagles point to the back of the wearer). British embroidery is not typically executed as machine made with cheesecloth on the back, and the few originals that i have seen appear to be hand embroidered just as the formation signs worn by the army back in the day were hand embroidered. I am not saying that these patches are fakes, just that they appear to be from the hoard discovered some thirty years ago where all of the eagles face to the right. As for the trimming, one would have to compare one of these "unissued" pieces with what is on your jacket for a size comparison. The ones on your jacket appear to be square, where the uncut examples are decidedly rectangular. Ptach King patches exist during World War II, and many of the earliest "fakes" of German cloth were made by them for sale to patch collectors during the war.
What I was trying to say in my previous post is that I would expect a Squadron Leader, as an officer and a gentleman, to procure a uniform and insignia befitting his rank and status. Most RAF officers from the BoB period would have been from families that would have had sufficeint means to be able to afford the rank that they wore. The flat pilot wing is indeed an original WWII era wing, but not one that I would expect to see worn by anyone other than an OR pilot.
Chris, I am going to have to disagree quite strongly here. British ribbons are almost always worn made up onto bars and sewn to the uniform as a group. This is one area where the British military differs significantly from their American cousins. First, British awards have traditionally been handed out quite sparingly and are worn with great pride. British medals are held in such high esteem that even after military service, they are often seen being worn with dress clothing. Unlike American medals, which are often found with soiled, worn and faded ribbons, British medals are found with new ribbons. When ribbons become soiled, they are replaced, and medal bars are remounted. Any tailor worth his salt in London would haveplenty of ribbon on hand and would be quite adept at mounting medals and ribbons. I just cannot fathom a Squadron Leader not wearing the most immaculate uniform in the Squadron (or at least come a close second to the Serjeant Major).

Perhaps Jeff could chime in here as I am sure he has handled quite a number of British medal and ribbon groups.
I believe that Jeff has already given a good account of the ribbons and the lack of feasibility that this jacket could have been worn by a Briton rather than a Yank.

I still hold the firm opinion that you are being cheated here and that you need to be seeking a refund. That is my sole reason for stepping in with my comments.
Good luck!
Allan


Allan,

I'm still not convinced that the patches are Patchking or bad for that matter. However, I do feel that the entire setup was put together. The groupings to the Brits who flew with the Eagles are known and in private collections. Basically this is in all likelyhood a fantasy piece built around a decent set of patches. Oddly enough I have seen originals with opposite facing eagles.
I'd hate to see someone get bit on a piece like this since it was probably expensive.

Just my 2 cents.

#17 JBFloyd

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 05:05 PM

This really wasn't meant to be a mugging, but several of us have some hard-earned lessons in dealing with ES material, so we are very alert to anything in the market in this line.

Any details on the medals that accompany this item? (Hint: Be very suspicious if they are attributed to Chesley Peterson, James A. Goodson, Ernest Beatty or W.E.G. Taylor)

#18 cpatrick

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 07:56 PM

Thanks for the follow up. There are no details on the medals, I was just made aware of their "existance". There is some good news here. The collector has elected to take the uniform back, in trade for a full refund, or a trade. I have been in this field for over 15 years, so I am far from inexperienced. However, given my very limited knowledge of British items of WWII, I walked right into this one. Very discouraging, but I do take comfort to know that some of you have bitten the bullet as well. Doesn't taste good, does it?

#19 cpatrick

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 08:03 PM

Just out of curiosity...what is an ES BD actually worth?

And yes, I did pay a lot for it.

#20 pathfinder505

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Posted 15 February 2007 - 08:24 PM

I am guessing but I would bet 98% of the people here have gotten something bad. It is not easy to digest. But we live and learn and try to help others avoid the same mistakes.
I carry a blacklight to shows and I run it across anything I consider buying. I always ask permission from the seller but if he doesnt want me to then I move on.

#21 aaf8

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Posted 16 February 2007 - 02:15 PM

Just out of curiosity...what is an ES BD actually worth?

And yes, I did pay a lot for it.



It really depends on who, what, where etc.... A basic BD with ES insignia, and proper wings.....probably$1500-2500 (wide range but it has to have the right look). If it's id'd then it could be significantly higher.

Dom

#22 aaf8

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 01:10 PM

Dom,
I am willing to bet you a beer that both ES patches face the same direction rather than facing forward (matching right and left). These really look to me like the "Patch King" US made examples with a white cheesecloth backing. They have been trimmed down considerably.
Allan



Allan,

When can I collect my beer :)

Dom

#23 cpatrick

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 02:24 PM

Item has been returned to the seller with no quams whatsoever. I do not collect British items, infact this was my very first purchase. I bought it on a whim, and everything worked out superbly in the end. My main focus for the past 15+ years has been US, Third Reich, Imperial German, and Japanese. My posting on other forums would definetely show the quality of my items in those areas. The outcome of this jacket demonstrates why 98% of my items come from primary sources.

Chris

#24 CNY Militaria

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 02:28 PM

I am glad it worked out in the end for you! Was the seller surprised at the findings?

#25 Allan H.

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Posted 18 February 2007 - 03:18 PM

Allan,

When can I collect my beer :)

Dom


Dom,
The eagle faced right on both sides- not mirrored.
You can buy me one at SOS.
Allan


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