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shelter in place attic find - Eagle Squadron


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Oh no
It’s not off the rack
It’s cut to order probably cost about 12 pounds but they were set up to do orders like this !
Very professional shop
12 pounds was a months wages FYI
Owen


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Why Max left the 71 (thoughts continued):

The point of the story about Max driving 25 miles out of his way to get home rather than wait for the red light to change was simply to emphasize the fact that he was an impulsive man of ZERO patience! 

When he perceived that things were not going the way he thought they should, or that they were moving too slowly for his liking, he would do something about it. When the US Army Air Force turned him down, he immediately stormed all the way up to Canada, and got what he needed. In  1942, finally, after two years of training, he was in 71, on active duty, flying maybe the best aircraft in the world at that time. Nonetheless, he up and volunteered for duty in the Middle East? That tells me things were not moving fast enough for him or he was not getting the opportunities he thought he should.  Little could he have known that his impulsive decision to take this quick right turn would take him on a 66 day, 10,000 mile journey down to, and through, the heart of Africa, then up the Nile before he could get around the Axis troops, to be able to start flying combat missions again. But, I wager he did not care, because he was in motion, and moving towards something he wanted. I don't think Max was a man who ever regretted the paths he had chosen.

Uniform #2. prologue: 

We can start with the classic London, Reed Brothers Regent Street store tag in the pants, and a date of 10/17/41. The inscription on the tag looks like Max’s hand: G. S. Maxwell, Esq., the date and BOR .3503.  What might that last that signify?

He now has two uniforms in England. It is interesting to me that the new one does not get the Canadian /USA patches, but the one that he arrived in, did. 

Is it possible the RAF requested that the Canadian uniform have the Canada/ USA patchs added as soon as he arrived or as Allen suggested - He was given it before he embarked. That seems more plausible time wise.

If so, could this be a reason why he ran out and immediately purchased a new uniform?

Max could really hold a grudge, and he easily could still have been raw about being turned down by the Army.(USA)  ( just me, thinking out loud)

In any event, I would like to think the new uniform is under his coat on that very cold day the group photo at Llandow, Wales.

Regardless, he had both suits when he entered the 71 sq. 

All that being said, about 26 years ago while we were visiting Max and his wife Len, I got into a brief conversation with her about the Eagle SQ, and said she would show me the patches. I remember this vividly, as I was disappointed when she showed them to me.  I thought they would be much more elaborate; at that time knowing nothing of the details of the Eagle Squadron or the military, in general. But, she did have them; 2 Eagle Squadron patches hidden away in her room. I just assumed she had taken them off the jacket.  But, looking at the jacket closely now, it does not look like anything had ever been sewn onto the shoulders. When we unpacked the jacket last month even the  RCAF brevet had been taken off, but the threads were still hanging on the jacket. I put my hand in the vest pocket and - jackpot! There was the brevet, still dangling the same threads as the jacket. 

Why was it taken off? 

My wife posits that her mother routinely removed them for dry-cleaning ( 60’s-70’s), knowing how badly they could be damaged. She was a competent seamstress, so this could be possible. 

All I know is there are threads on the breast where the RCAF brevet came off, but none on the arms. 

My theory is that Max basically didn’t get around to getting his patches put on before he transferred. (He was only physically there for 13 days!) 

 Where are the patches? 

Sadly, I have to report that we have not yet found the ES patches

There is still an outside chance that they did come back with us and could be squirreled away in some of the few remaining small boxes. But don’t hold your breath. Unfortunately, his wife was a bit of a hoarder and she was really Byzantine when it came to hiding things usually in layers of plastic bags. 

Regardless, this British Regent Street Uniform deserves to have the Eagle Squadron patches, and would have, but for some twists of fate.

It really is a shame…….

 

George St. Maur Maxwell,  uniform #2:

Uniform #2 is a jacket and one pair of straight back (“modern style”) pleated pants.

The classic London, Reed Brothers Regent Street store tag in the pants, and a date of 10/17/41. on the inside of the pant lining identifies it as having been made in London England. 

 Material: barathea wool,  jacket lining solid color with a more sheen than the Canadian jacket.  The arms are lined with a light beige/yellow striped rayon(?). One RCAF chest wing brevet ( not attached (just pined for photos), no arm patches. Brass buttons and belt buckle, steel pocket snaps, back pant belt and fastener, dark and light pant buttons.

The rough jacket measurements are: 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:

This uniform had extensive use. It still looks good but under inspection there is some damage.

It was cleaned and pressed some time ago.

There are no missing buttons or snaps. 

Slight perspiration staining on the inside arm cuff linings more noticeable on the pant waist lining.

There is no wear on the cuff hems of the jacket, but one pant leg bottom is showing slight fraying.

The jacket has one small moth hole on the back collar, two  smaller than 1’ long parallel tears on the right arm but no stains. The threads from the brevet removal remain on the jacket. 

The RCAF brevet has been removed, threads still attached and is in excellent condition

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

The pants have no stains or tears, and a functioning zipper, but they have 3 to 4 small moth holes and two 1/4” moth holes below the front.

All damage is repairable.

In general the considering he wore this uniform in the desert during a war, it looks really good!

 

With Max’s timeline and what we have leaned from the uniform, it is clear that this is one of the two he had while seeing duty as an RCAF officer in England.

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An awesome group that is a joy to watch unfold.

Your attention to details whether on uniforms or Max’s character is amazing and very interesting.

For someone who claims to not have collecting experience your observations and descriptions surpass that of many collectors.

What, may I ask, do you attribute this to?

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An awesome group that is a joy to watch unfold.

Your attention to details whether on uniforms or Max’s character is amazing and very interesting.

For someone who claims to not have collecting experience your observations and descriptions surpass that of many collectors.

What, may I ask, do you attribute this to?

  • Thank you.

 

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That’s a great question and one I have been pondering myself, lately. 

Basically, I have just been watching the tea leaves unfold along with you. As I started to read the logs and shuffle the piles around it became a living and breathing 3d mystery puzzle that became fascinating, (mostly, I guess because of my relationship with Max and his family) but also because the process has been helping me answer questions not only about the who, what and why of Max, but myself as well.

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Let's answer your nagging question as to why Max would have had two uniforms, one Canadian made and the other, English. I'd start by explaining to you that while American aviators flew in all manner of clothing, the British and commonwealth aviators flew in their uniforms. Yes, jacket with matching belt, dress shirt, tie, etc. was all worn in the cockpit. Why? Because it was the prescribed uniform! Even when leather flight clothing was worn, the dress uniform was still worn beneath the shearling jacket and pants. So, Max had his Canadian uniform for wear when flying and on normal duty days. The Austin Reed English-made uniform was worn for special/ dress occasions. Think of the English uniform as his "Sunday Best."

Now for the patches... The RCAF would have prescribed for his nationality titles to have been worn, and I would assume that they were on the uniform before he got on the ship bound for England. The English made uniform doesn't have the nationality titles most likely because he didn't purchase them. Perhaps there was a thought that as he moved to Number 71 Eagle Squadron, that the squadron would provide him with guidance about what was to be worn. The English uniform would look virtually the same for a Canadian or an English flyer. The only differences would be the RCAF buttons and the RCAF in the center of his pilot's brevet. His English comrade would have worn standard RAF buttons and a brevet with the intertwined letters of the RAF.

If you google "71 Squadron RAF" and look at the photos, you will find a number of images of Americans wearing RAF uniforms. I was surprised to see that virtually none of the images show nationality titles. I'm attaching two. These photos have come from the Imperial War Museum Collection www.iwm.org.uk

The first is described as follows:

"Edwin Orbison of Sacramento, Fees Kennerly (formerly a commercial pilot) from Pasadena, Richard Moore from Dunca, Oklahoma and James McGinnis from Hollywood, California at the RAF Flying Training School where Eagle Squadron pilots underwent training. All the Eagle Squadron pilots were trained prior to their recruitment but as their level of experience differed widely, they all underwent RAF standardised training."

NOTE: None of these Americans in RAF uniforms are wearing nationality titles.

The second is described as follows:

"P/O Andrew Mamedoff of Thompson, Connecticut, P/O Vernon Charles Keough of Brooklyn, New York and P/O Gene Tobin of Los Angeles. Mamedoff was formerly a stunt pilot in an air circus. Keough was a professional parachutist with 480 drops at the time this photograph was taken. Tobin was a commercial pilot who also did film work in Los Angeles. Picture show the pilots displaying the squadron's new uniform badge at Church Fenton."

NOTE: This is a great view of the Eagle Squadron sleeve insignia. Note that it has not been sewn on to any of the uniforms in the image.

Thank you again for sharing these treasures.

Allan

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Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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Allen !!!!!!

Your information that these pilots flew in these uniforms is stunning! 

It certainly adds another dimension to think that Max might have actually worn these garments while flying around in Spitfires!!

And yes, Eugene Quimby "Red" Tobin (wiki), is holding the ES patch like Max’s wife showed to me.

Thanks again!

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First we have to get around the Axis forces:

There is a gap in his flying log after he volunteers for “overseas” duty from 3/14/1942 until it resumes, 8/1/42.

His service record fills the gap nicely. (Photo 1, 2)

I have transcribed and broken down the entries here:

Max’s flying gap:

“The Walk About”

Padgate, Lancashire                                   4/7/42     to   4/13/42     6 days

En route west to West Africa (boat)         4/13/42   to   5/1/42     18 days

Waterloo, Sierra Leone, W.A.                      5/1/42     to   5/11/42   10 days

En route to Gold Coast (boat)                    5/11/42    to  5/15/42     3 days

Takoradi, Gold Coast                                   5/15/42    to   5/16/42    1 day

En route to Nigeria (boat)                           5/16/42    to   5/17/42    1 day

Lagos Nigeria                                               5/16/42    to   6/2/42    18 days

Lagos- Kano- Maiduguri                             6/2/42      to    6/4/42      2 days

El Geneina-Al Fashir- Khartoum                 6/3/42     to    6/4/42      1 day

Khartoum -Cairo                                           6/4/42     to    4/6/42.     2 days

T.C. Almaza, Cairo, Egypt                            6/5/42     to    7/31/42  

Total trip days to T. C. Almaza base, Cairo, Egypt - 62 days,  Approx.10,000 miles.

So, I have Max getting on a boat in England, which travels south, across the face of Europe, past the straights of Gibraltar, around the top third of Africa to land at Waterloo, Sierra Leone. Ten days later, he takes another boat to Takoradi, Gold Coast, then another boat to Lagos, Nigeria. I assume that his contingent then convoyed in trucks the rest of the way. (Note: photos of the maps do not show the actual route taken; they are just for orientation and overall mileage; photo 3,4,5),

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However…I just went through his wallet from that period.

It was stuffed like a time capsule! 

What I found makes this trek a bit more interesting.

Apparently, this was not an overland convoy, and now, one wonders how many others were traveling with him. 

Photo 1 is a ticket for a 3 day ride on the Pan American-Africa, LTD., a private contract carrier. Departing Lagos June 2,1942, (matching the service record) with mail stops in Kano, Maiduguri, El Geneina(Al Junaynah), Al Fashir and Khartoum, before arriving in Cairo.

Photo 2 is a Royal Mail Lines Limited wine card for 2 bottles of scotch whisky, (Max’s go-to drink), a Royal Cinema admission ticket for a theater in Lagos. (the 18 day layover in Lagos might have had some perks!), and a Cairo electric rail ticket. 

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Sorry about the mis-post of map #2 .  

Here  is the correct one. (Note: photos of the maps do not show the actual route taken; they are just for orientation and overall mileage)

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More Cairo and some older:

1)  Finding a bed in Cairo

2) The Silver Grill Club membership, 1941, Bournemouth, England, (good ’til 1999!!)  

3) RCAF leave pass, 5/20/41, ticket to the June 7,1941 Washington Senators baseball game (Senators beat the Red Sox, 5-3) plus a Long Beach Ball Room ticket, good for one dance, season 1941.

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It is interesting that in his ID photo, Max is wearing a British Battledress tunic with pilot brevet.

Great pieces!

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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There is one photo from the African trek:

Max is the only one wearing shoes. He said everyone else contracted ringworm and he wasn't going to have any of that!

Check out that full length coat hanging in the grass shack. I’m guessing they are in Lagos. 

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Love those wallet stuffers! Back to uniforms. I have a grouping of which the pilot was an American. He went to Canada and sailed to England. He arrived and was taken to London. There his group were taken to Moss Bros. tailors. He has paperwork from them and it appears they had a type of officers special pricing for their needs. They gave a list of what he needed. They recommend two jackets, overcoat, and two pair of pants, two shirts, a tie, belt etc. since he was from the states he would not have had a uniform. Since the topic of thread was a member of the RCAF he would have had a uniform already, maybe two, possibly enlisted issue. Anyway, in my readings it seems common for Americans to be taken to Moss Brothers shortly after arrival. I doubt if they would be given eagle patches until they successfully passed O.T.U. and were then posted to a squadron. I would guess he had eagles sewn on at one time. They were very proud to belong to the unit. 
As to why he left I have read that during the winter, the eagles had to fly convoy duty and ocean patrols which are described as extremely boring and sometimes dangerous as the water and sky often looked the same. 

Awesome group and since you knew the gentleman it makes it much more special.

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That appears to be a Canadian ID disk. I would assume that it is the same one that is in the photo of Maxwell wearing it.

As for the uniforms, British and Commonwealth officers did NOT wear Other Ranks' dress uniforms. They would have worn a tailored officer's uniform. Neither of the uniforms in this thread is an "issue uniform. Both are bespoke. The only "OR" uniforms worn by officers in the field were battledress, though officers were required to purchase their own, whether by a tailor or through regimental stores.

Allan

Never under-estimate the power of prayer.

 

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According to Max’s service record he arrive at 243 Wing Base Kilo8 on 7/31/42.

The next day’s entry has him at 33 Squadron, Edku Egypt, where they had just moved to. 

Over the course of the 5 months he is in the 33 Squadron, they move 7 times, indicative of the ebb and flow of the North African conflict. 

This is when and where Max begins his friendship with Lance Wade.

Max received a letter on 5/6/2010 from Bob Miller,  requesting a signature on a book, a photo and some thoughts about Lance Wade. 

Here is the photo of Max and Lance, standing on the wing of Lance’s Spitfire IX. 

Below is his reply letter to Bob Miller, and below that, a transcription in 93-year-old Max’s hand, of his thoughts of Lance Wade:

 

Dear Bob:                                                 23 May 2010

Many thanks for the book, picture and awakened memories. I hope I have satisfied your requests but, if not, please let me know.

I still have not unearthed my log so dates and locations have been gleaned from books and a less-than-perfect memory. The picture of Lance and me is a case in point. It was 1943 because I had transferred  to the USAAF on 10 January of that year. Also, on page 85 of the ”Lance Book”, it is noted that 145 Sqn provided escort to 79 Group on 1 August 1943. 79 Group included the 86th Sqn to which I was assigned. Ergo, the picture was taken in Sicily in 1943.

I am fairly certain 86 Sqn was stationed just inland from Syracuse.

Lance had stopped by to say hello, which is indicative of why everyone thought so highly of him as a friend. We are laughing because I was trying to trade my P-40 for Lance's Spit IX. We are standing on the Spit's wing.

I have enclosed a copy of the newspaper clipping I referred to during our phone conversation about Lance's death. I had accepted that tale because I had seen Lance flying the Feisler Storch (Spelling?) and assumed it had been booby-trapped by the Germans before they abandoned it. Hence the crash.

The comment of Harry Bastion, identified as Lance's No.2 on page 42 of the "Lance Book”, hints at something more plausible. Lance was not a “show off". He was an outstandingly competent pilot who would not attempt a roll at zero altitude. If he did attempt it, he would succeed. So the question in my mind is, What really happened? There are many reasons to argue in favor of a cover-up but it would be an insult to Lance no matter who else may be culpable. Certainly the charge of "stupidity on the part of one of his fellow Americans" called for an investigation. The fact that the findings of A Court of Inquiry remained impossible to see (page 97) does nothing to allay suspicion.

So what do we do? Join the Tea Party and vote every incumbent out? I would like to know what led to that tragic outcome. And kick the arse of the stupid American.

It was good to hear from you. Take care, and thanks again.

All the best,

Max

 

Transcribed from Max’s penciled note May 2010 ( photo next post):

I served in 33 Sqn with Lance Wade from 5 August 1942 until his departure on leave October 1942.

As a fighter pilot he was superb, with an uncanny awareness of what was happening around him during combat and the skill to overcome the chaos while defeating the enemy.

As a human being, he was one to envy: warm, considerate, modest and impossible not to like and admire.

                                                                                                       George S Maxwell

                                                                                                                      (Max)

 

Having heard Max get overwhelmed by emotions, and unable to finish a story about Lance six years before he penned these two letters, gives me just a hint of understanding of the incredible bond and camaraderie these men had for each other. 

The joke they shared and the laugh they had is now frozen forever in time by the photograph and  I am very grateful this story-within-a-story made it to us.

Max and Lance standing on L's Spit IX wing copy.jpg

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