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shelter in place attic find - Eagle Squadron


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The eagle patches on the upper arm of the RCAF uniform denotes that the servicemen are "Other Ranks" or what we as Americans would call "Enlisted." British and commonwealth officers did not wear them. The "small wing" at the elbow is the rank insignia for "Leading Aircraftman," which is the first rank after "recruit" (no rank).

I really am enjoying this thread and cannot wait to see the RAF tunics.

Allan

 

 

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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On 9/13/41 Max is awarded his RCAF flying badge and commissioned as a pilot, as an officer. (Max log and Cain)

 He also receives an inscribed booklet with a picture of his RCAF wings on it.

Supposedly, Max leaves for England 11 days after he receives his commission.

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Before he leaves for England, Max manages to visit his relatives in DC., sometime in Sept./41, wearing his uniform without arm patches but with a new RACF chest wing patch. That is Max’s younger sister Wilor who is Married to Ossie Bluege, (the long time 3rd baseman and later Manager for the Washington Nationals/Senators). She is wearing the same lace top in both pictures and she is sitting in their car as Ossie takes the picture. 

In these DC pics, is he wearing the same uniform as in the Canadian group picture? - ie. with the addition of RCAF wings and the subtraction of the arm wings? 

Or is this a new uniform? 

Does this uniform identify him as an officer?

If it is a new uniform, did they hand him a tailored uniform with the RCAF wings sewed on ? 

In general when patches like wings were received by officers, who would sew them on? The pilots ? 

(these question might have further implications for understanding his existing uniforms)

Next up uniform #1----- and thanks for all of your replies !

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Before he leaves for England, Max manages to visit his relatives in DC., sometime in Sept./41, wearing his uniform without arm patches but with a new RACF chest wing patch.

As I said earlier, now that he is an officer in the RCAF, he no longer wears the shoulder patches (called formation signs). As he is visiting the US in the photos, I would have expected to see "CANADA" nationality titles sewn at the shoulder seam. In England, he would have worn "USA" titles, but Americans serving in the RAF. RCAF, etc. were not allowed to wear USA titles when visiting the states.

In these DC pics, is he wearing the same uniform as in the Canadian group picture? - ie. with the addition of RCAF wings and the subtraction of the arm wings? 

No, as an officer, he is required to purchase his own uniform. There should be a tailor's label inside the jacket.

Or is this a new uniform? 

BRAND NEW and probably custom tailored to fit him (bespoke).

Does this uniform identify him as an officer?

I believe that I see a single, narrow stripe on each cuff, denoting Pilot Officer. This is the lowest officer rank.

If it is a new uniform, did they hand him a tailored uniform with the RCAF wings sewed on ? 

The tailor who sold him his uniform would have sewn on all of the insignia to include the pilot's brevet (wing).

In general when patches like wings were received by officers, who would sew them on? The pilots ? 

British and commonwealth officers were different than US officers in that they were considered to be in a higher social class as an officer, and as such, would have been expected to have had everything professionally done. He should NOT have sewn anything on his uniforms himself. It wouldn't have given him the proper look.

(these question might have further implications for understanding his existing uniforms)

I am so looking forward to seeing them!

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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This is really an interesting thread so far, and one that I will be checking back on often.  This is a great grouping and a great find to an early US participant in the European Theater.  Very good story and write ups on "Max" so far!

Always looking for 325th G.I.R. and WWII USMC items!
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George St. Maur Maxwell,  uniform #1

Uniform #1 is a jacket and two pairs of V back, suspender-ready pants (one pleated, one not), all with matching lining.

The Eaton label on the inside of the jacket lining identifies it as having been made in Canada. 

 Material: barathea wool,  jacket lining solid color with a bit of sheen.  The arms are lined with a light beige blue striped rayon or silk (?). One RCAF chest wing patch, two Canada/USA patches. Brass buttons and belt buckle, steel pocket snaps, back pant belt and fastener, dark buttons.

Max stood 5’11”,  but he was thin, and this jacket top reflects that, as it just fits on a woman’s size 4 dress form. I am small, 5’6” now and I cannot get it near to buttoned.

The rough jacket measurements are:

Top back shoulder 17”

Chest 17+” 

Middle 16”

Back  28+”

Arm 23”

The pants measure 29/30 waist, 32 length

It is certainly tailored specifically for him, but I have not found a tailor’s mark or signature.

Condition:

The uniform is in amazing condition! 

It was cleaned and pressed some time ago.

There are no missing buttons or snaps. 

Slight staining on the inside arm cuff linings

There is no wear on any of the cuff hems, jacket and pants.

There are no moth holes, tears or stains on the jacket.

There appears to be no ghosting or hint of any former arm patches having been removed.

Both pair of pants have no stains or tears, but they both have 3 /5 repairable moth holes on the crotch bottom back side. There also appears to be a small repair below the knee inseam on the pleated pair.

In general the uniform looks as if it had very light use.

With Max’s timeline and what we have leaned from the uniform, it is clear that this is the uniform we see him wearing as he poses with his sister and Ossie’s shiny new Plymouth speed machine, on his visit to DC days before he gets on a boat to England.

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Beautiful uniform! Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I love that there are two pair of trousers with the tunic. That is very common for these uniforms as the pants would be worn a lot more than the jackets. The shoulder titles give evidence that he was a Yank in the RCAF. The pilot brevet is machine embroidered and a classic Canadian pattern.

I cannot wait to see more.

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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Thanks again Allen, for the great input.  Are you in agreement that he would have gotten the shoulder patches upon arrival in England? If so would you hazard a guess as to when they might have handed them out, as it appears he received a new uniform days after he arrives.

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The Austin Reed uniform would have been one that was purchased in England after his arrival there. The insignia on the uniforms and the uniforms themselves would have been purchased by Pilot Officer Maxwell. The second pilot brevet shown are clearly English-made and hand embroidered. They are very high quality. The would have cost him quite a bit of his paycheck.

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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Max in England:

I have just discovered Max’s complete record of service  and types of planes flown through the war on the back pages of his log book !!  

All the entries are in his hand with different pens. 

He arrives in England 10/13 /41,  (Cain). 

Max’s entry is:  En Route to England 9/27/41 (to) 10/15/41”. (photo1)

He has a new tailored uniform in hand 10/17/41 (see previous posted photo)

His service record has him housed at Bournemouth, Eng. until 4/11/41(photo 1)

He immediately entered advanced flying training, which he completed in early December. (Cain)

His service record has him moving to Hullayington, Eng, 11/4/41 and his log has him flying the next day.11/05/1941(log) (photo2/3)

He is Assigned to 53 OTU at Llandow, Wales.  12/16/1941, and starts flying Spitfires. (log)(photo 4).  

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The group photo ( Winter of 1941) is a cold day at Llandow, Wales, sometime between 12/16/42 and 2/24/41 (Future Eagle names are underlined ).

Back of photo is signed Property of George S. Maxwell 1941. (photo)

It is the only photo I have found of Max in England.

P.s. I forgot to mention that the future Eagle Squadron members from the previously posted group photo in Canada were: Roland Wolfe, Albert Taylor, Edwin Taylor and Henry Mills.

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Ok - 

Well, I was so excited to find Max’s complete record of service and aircraft flown, I missed an important entry!!

Max was on leave, 9/13/41 to 9/25/41. That is when he visited his relatives in DC. (photo )

I just assumed that he went to NYC after that, to catch a boat to England, not getting the full implications of the fact that he is STILL in the RCAF !! 

The next entry straightens me out, as he returns to Canada! (photo)

Max shows up at “No.1 Y- Depot Halifax, N.S.” for a day or two before getting on the boat, and leaving from there on 9/27/41  (photo)

For me, this raises the possibility that the RCAF slapped those CANADA /USA shoulder pads on his uniform before he got on the boat.

Does anyone know if this is posible, or did these Identifying pads only get handed out in England ?

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The Nationality titles would have been worn with the uniform at all times, not just worn in England. I have had several WWII RAF and RCAF veterans say that they were NOT allowed to wear their USA Nationality Titles while they were in the US. This is confirmed by Robert Raymond, who wrote the book "A Yank in the RAF" and he writes about pilot training in Texas and only wearing Canada titles.

 

I would imagine that he put the Canada/ USA titles on the uniform upon his return from the states and before deploying to England. Does his English made tunic have the same titles as the Canadian made tunic?

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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I would imagine that he put the Canada/ USA titles on the uniform upon his return from the states and before deploying to England. Does his English made tunic have the same titles as the Canadian made tunic?

Allan

No, the English made tunic does not have the same titles as the Canadian made one.

I hope to post the photos of the uniform tomorrow, after a bit about his time in the 71 Squadron. 

Thanks again for the information!

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Many thanks for sharing all of this wonderful grouping. I so look forward to the next installment. 71 Squadron! WOW!

 

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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JOINING THE EAGLE SQUADRON:

Max earned proficiency on 2/4/42, and was assigned to 71 Squadron (log) (photo1) 

Max was given leave on 2/24/42 to 3/4/42 (service record) (photo 2)

According to Caine, Max’s 71 Squadron record started on 2/24/1942, which includes leave time. 

Max lists  his arrival as 3/4/42 in the service record, flying starting on 3/8/42 (photo 2)

Is it fair to include his leave time as technically part of his time in the Eagle Squadron?

Also, one wonders what a young, gung-ho man like Max would do with a week of leave, having just been posted for active duty.  Might he have gone straight from Wales to the 71 Squadron base at Martlesham, Suffolk ?

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LEAVING THE EAGLE SQUADRON:

According to Caine, Max left for the Middle East on 4/13 /1942. He says there is a gap in the record until 8/5/42.  

Max’s log details his last flight in a Spitfire XR-B, as 1:10 Patrol on 3/14/42. (photo2 last post) 

His service log locates him in the 71 Squadron until 3/17/42, with a leave until 4/7/42. His service record fills Caine’s gap with 14 interesting entries, but no flying logs until 8/1/42 (photo 1)

(more on that later )

 

EAGLE SQUADRON cont.

Ok - Where to begin?

As you can see, Max was in the 71 Squadron for either a 13-day cup of coffee, a 49-day cup or somewhere in between, depending on how you want to do the math.  

Why did he transfer? 

Philip Caine say, “…he and Bob Mannix were told that there was a need for pilots overseas and they could apply if they wanted…so they did” 

What I heard: 

In the 23 years that I was acquainted with Max, he never brought up the subject of his military service.  It was all about the 2 grandkids, walks in the park, some seasonal Washington Redskins banter, and his legendary white-knuckle rides in his red Trans Am muscle  car. We would visit once a year in the summer. After his wife had passed, and when our kids were older, we would try to get him to go visit the Smithsonian with us and see his tag on the Eagle Squadron plaque, but he hated crowds. Instead, we would go and report back to him that it was still there. It was only when I had the opportunity to work briefly on a project in nearby Rockville, and was visiting Max by myself, did I get to hear some stories.  I was telling him about the British drama series  from 1988, “Piece of Cake” (YouTube) that they had done on the Eagle Squadron, and mentioned that they featured a pilot who liked to like to fly inverted. He laughed and said that there actually was one in the Eagle Squadron. That opened the door to some stories. 

The first might add a little color to what Phillip Caine reported from his interview with Max.  

I don't remember the particulars, but Max imparted that Mannix, after committing some transgression was politely asked to transfer by the (new?) squadron leader.  Being that Mannix was Max’s friend, and that it had basically not stopped raining since he got to England, Max said he would go too, probably hoping for more time in the air.

 

Mind you, this is from the guy who would get within a couple of blocks of his house, hit a slow red light and two cars in front of him, and literally, suddenly, go pedal-to-the-metal, turn right thru a gas station, go down an alleyway, magically find a parkway ramp, and drive at top speed 25 miles out of his way, without saying a word, just to end up at his house without stopping! 

 

News clips (photo2)

Uniform #2 next...

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Thanks again Allen, for the great input.  Are you in agreement that he would have gotten the shoulder patches upon arrival in England? If so would you hazard a guess as to when they might have handed them out, as it appears he received a new uniform days after he arrives.
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Austin Reed was a department store that was on a street beside savile row home of UK tailoring FYI


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5 hours ago, kammo-man said:


Austin Reed was a department store that was on a street beside savile row home of UK tailoring FYI


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

That would explain how he was able to get the uniform so quickly- it was purchased off the rack and then altered. It is still of high quality.

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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