Has been a while so thought I would show one of my most recent purchases. Picked this RAF Officers Service Dress up at a local auction. Nice padded WW2 period, RAF pilots wing and ranked to a Squadron Leader who was awarded the Air Crew Europe Star with “France & Germany” clasp.
The thing that made me “had to have it” was that it was named, came with his service ID discs, and also came with a little research that the previous owner had done on the original owner.
Something that makes this RAF service dress a little different is the New Zealand shoulder titles.
At the outbreak of World War Two, New Zealand did not have the capacity to completely train aircrew in any great numbers. Prior to the instigation of the Empire Training Scheme, were New Zealand air crew had their provisional training at home and finished their training in another Commonwealth country, usually Canada (Of the 131,000 trainees who graduated in Canada, New Zealanders formed 5.3%) many kiwi’s (approx. 401) took a short service commission in the RAF and finished their flight training in the United Kingdom. There were 134 trained pilots who relinquished their RNZAF commissions and accepted a five year short service commission in the Royal Air Force. Of all the 401 kiwis who sailed to the UK, 213 did not survive the war to make the trip back to NZ. Fortunately, William George Charles GASQUOINE, the original uniform owner, did make it back.
Written in the lining of one of the sleeves is the name GASQUOINE and the two id discs have the same surname with the initials WG and RAF service number 45703. The research done by the previous owner came up with the answer that this uniform belonged to William George Charles GASQUOINE. I did a quick “Google” search and found a number of London Gazette notices confirming RAF service and the name and service number.
At the end of their five year RAF short service commission, most men accepted a commission back into the RNZAF. I have managed to locate William’s RNZAF file which, along with all his RNZAF service, details all of his RAF postings.
William George Charles GASQUOINE was born in 1918 in Wellington, New Zealand. He grew up in Nelson, going to Nelson Collage until leaving in 1936 and taking up a Drafting cadetship with the Lands and Survey Department where he stayed until the outbreak of World War Two. In October 1939 William joined the RNZAF and was awarded his flying badge, 10 February 1940. He left NZ on the 26 April 1940 and on arriving in the UK in June, accepted his commission into the RAF. After continuing his flight training with 10 and 12 Operational Training Units he was posted to 78 Squadron (78 Squadron was used to drop British airborne troops into Italy in February 1941-Operation Colossus, the first use of Brit airborne troops). After two months with the squadron he was posted to 1 Anti Aircraft Co-operation Unit (AACU) in November 1940. While with the 1 AACU he took command of “G” flight Cleave and “Q” flight at Aberporth. In August of 1942 he was posted to 42 Operational Training Unit where he was an instructor, going on to be the Chief Flying Instructor and Flight Commander. At the end of his time with the OTU he was posted to 487 (NZ) Squadron flying de Havilland Mosquitos. 487 (NZ) Squadron is perhaps best well known for its bombing attack on Amiens Prison (Operation Jericho) in February 1944, William was not involved in this operation but he was involved in the retaliatory attacks after the execution of 30 SAS prisoners of war who were members of the behind the lines Operation Bulbasket (June-August 1944). On 1st August 1944, 23 Mosquito FB VI (21 & 487 Squadron) attacked Caserne des Dunes barracks, Poitiers. William was the pilot (navigator was Flying Officer P.E. PRIOR) of Mosquito-EG-K, PZ164 which was latter lost in the Aarus attack, 31 October 1944 when it lost a engine after flying through a bomb blast and was forced to land in Sweden and was set alight by the crew before it could be captured. At the end of his time with the squadron, in September, he was posted to staff duty roles, first with the 2nd Tactical Air Force Headquarters and then with Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. In August 1945 he had his final overseas posting to 1 Ferry Unit, Pershore where he qualified as a flying instructor “C” category. In May 1946, after six years 22 days overseas and 240 operational flying hours, he left the UK and arrived back in New Zealand on the 30 June 1946. He was finally discharged from the RNZAF on the 19 January 1947 and returned to civilian life. The types of aircraft he flew were; de Havilland Tiger Moth, Miles Hawk, Avro Tutor, Miles Mentor, Percival Proctor, Avro Anson, Fairey Gordon, Victor Vildebeeste, Fairey Battle, Armstrong Whitley III & V, Hawker Henley, Hawker Hurricane, de Havilland Mosquito VI, XVI and XX.
One of the things I discovered on doing a little research on William was that in January 1943 he was awarded a Kings Commendation for Bravery.
Interestingly, the Kings Commendation for Brave Conduct (1916-1952) was awarded in three forms. From 1916-1942, it was awarded just as a certificate similar to the ones issued with Mention in Dispatches. In 1943, they were issued as a gold and red plastic pin – backed badge. From 1944 onwards, the badges were not issued and instead, a silver laurel leaf was issued for civilians and worn on the Defence Medal if held, or on the tunic if not. For armed forces, an oak leaf identical to the M.I.D. was issued and worn on the War Medal 1939-45.