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Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

Article about: Are there serial numbers on the reverse of the mount / phot?

  1. #11

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    Are there serial numbers on the reverse of the mount / phot?

  2. #12

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    I can say that the USAAF Pilot wing badge is a pre-war 1920's-30's
    pattern, possibly worn very early in WWII. 'L.G. Balfour' and
    'AMCRAFT' made this type. Also, they are sometimes
    called the 'Juarez' pattern.........
    Click to enlarge the picture Click to enlarge the picture Click image for larger version. 

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  3. #13

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    Amendment. The one that I thought was the French bravery Award is actually WW1 French Commemorative Medal, awarded around 1920ish. Still struggling with the first and last medal ribbons on the top row. The first looks like a WW1 Victory, but the shades don't seem to match the color order. The last ribbon also seems to have two different colored sides with a symmetrical center.

    Thank you for all the interest so far. There is certainly a story here, but I cannot agree with the "Fun photo" position. firstly, all of the ribbons appear to be WW1, through my exhaustive research attempts. From what I can see, no WW2 ribbons exist. Is it possible that this gent was a flyer in WW1, but simply served as an adviser, or instructor in WW2, in a non-combatant role. He certainly appears to be in his late 30s or early 40s. Perhaps he was a young foot soldier in WW1 who became a pilot in the interwar years, explaining the US wings. The biggest reason that I cannot default to the hoax photo theory, is due to the inappropriate nature of such a thing occurring in such a turbulent time with such a surge of volunteerism. Why would someone play dress up for such an expensive photograph, in a time where so many earned their uniforms. This behavior would almost certainly be shunned, not displayed. From the looks of this photo, it has definately seen some serious time behind a frame and matting, due to the sun fading to the surround, apart from the very edges. I have collected for quite a while and have become fairly good at spotting the fakes and the frauds. this photo screams period to me. The simply has to be a logical explanation for the uniform. It seems far to elaborate to be a joke. *Getting off of my soapbox*

    Below is the information on the photos reverse.

    Bassano Limited
    Court Photographer
    38 Dover Street
    London, W.1.

    Registered Number.... 89322-1c.

    Hope this helps some more.

  4. #14

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    As much as I also believe the photo is genuine, and must admit I have the bit between my teeth re research, there are and have been many people who lay false claim to identity. i.e. Percy Toplis, and more recently, 'Fake' war veteran Roger Day: Medals are pukka...but I'm sworn to silence on how I won them | Mail Online
    There are, if you ever go onto ARRSE forum, a good thread about reporting major 'walts' who dess up in uniform for dating sites and profess their professional credentials as usual SAS / PARA and the like.

    Just playing devil's advocate...

  5. #15

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    The u.s. Army of occupation medal was instituted 1941 (retroactive award for service 1918-1923), which gives a good date for the photo.

  6. #16

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    I do not want to sound argumentative because that isnít my intention in returning to thissubject. But I think that some of you are ignoring the obvious in an understandable attempt to explain the odd get-up the man in the photo is wearing. We all agree that the photo was made sometime in the 1940ís, ergo it is a period photo. And we all agree that the uniform is a mix of RAF and US Army, and not a proper uniform. The implication of the photo is that, at the time of the photo, the man was a serving US Army officer pilot who had previous service in the RAF. So, please consider these points as you try to formulate a plausible reason for his odd appearance.

    The only way he, as an American, could have served in the RAF was to have been an accepted volunteer, a product of the Clayton Night Committee, in 1939-1941. But his ribbons indicate that he served in WWI, which in 1939-41 would have made him too old (41+) to have been accepted as a volunteer--ego no RAF service.

    The fact that his ribbons are all WWI French indicates that he did not serve in the US Army in WWI but was an American volunteer to the French Army. If that is the case, he would not be wearing the WWI French ribbons on his ostensibly US Army uniform because they werenít authorized for wear. In order to wear foreign awards, the recipient had to be a serving soldier in the US Armed forces when the award was made.

    If he did serve in the US Army during WWI, where are his US Army ribbons reflecting his service in the war?

    Despite the RAF hat and the cut of the tunic, the presence of US Army buttons and pilotís wings imply that, at the time the photo was made, he was serving in the US Army. If our man was a serving US Army officer, why wasnít he dressed in the complete, and correct, US uniform, including AAF lapel and rank insignia? And why, as was so common among American ex-RAF pilots, isnít he also wearing his RAF wings? They were authorized for wear at that time.

    The first uniformed American contingent to arrive in the UK was the Special Observer Group under Maj. Gen. James C. Chaney that arrived on 19 May 1941 and was headquartered in the American Embassy in London. None of those officers ever flew for the RAF.

    The first USAAF personnel arrived in the UK on 12 May 1941 as the advanced party for the US 8th Air Force. None of the men who arrived in that group, or among the aircrews that followed, were RAF veterans. The RAF veterans, who were already in the UK, were transferred into the 4th Fighter Group beginning in September 1942.

    I agree that guys fall through the cracks, and rules arenít always observed, which might be the case here. In any event, I think that you need to come up with a plausible reason for his incomplete, mixed uniform. Dwight

  7. #17

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    What Dwight said - and soldiers goofing around, in a war or not, is commonplace. Many also had a ribald and dirty sense of humour as well as the apple pie patriots everyone likes to get romantic about. It was also common for wives, sweathearts and children to wear uniforms and dress up for pictures. Nobody said this was a hoax or not period, it surely is - but the subject matter needn't always be 'heroic' or noble. Also portrait pictures in a studio were not especially expensive either. Soldiers routinely swapped gear in light hearted moments. Look at the films of the drinking and dancing made when the Americans and Russians linked up on the Elbe. Go to the collectors guild and look at the cover shot for the British WW I section and you'll see a British officer posing with his guade du corps helmet on his head = does this mean the Britsh having a German Monarch also adopted Prussian Guarde unit kit because the picture exists, does that mean it must always be official or accurate just because there is a picture?. Look at what the picture is telling you and don't try to make more of it. To further my point - explain what the uniform the guy in the middle of this picture is wearing - must be a german special ops unit or something....

    Click image for larger version. 

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  8. #18

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    I don't disagree with either arguments mentioned above. And I don't think it has been taken as read that a conclusion has been reached.
    Just because he has pilots wings does not necessarily make him an 'active' pilot, he could be general duties branch / liason?
    Wasn't / is one of his medals the U.S. occupancy of Germany, ergo and ftumph not all French medals.

    Overall, makes an interesting specy pic which is the meat and bones of a forum such as this.

  9. #19

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    diver99: You're right that the presence of wings doesn't necessarilly mean he was on flying status, but they do imply that he was a serving US Army officer at the time the photo was made. And you're right that If there is a WWI US Victory ribbon in the set, it would establish WWI service in the US Army. But there doesn't seem to be such a ribbon in the photo. The upper left ribbon is a possibility, but if you look at the at the WWI US Victory Medal ribbon below you will see that the upper left ribbon doesn't have the same pattern.

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    But, from my point-of-view, the most obvious indication that the man in the photo is not what he is pretending to be is the near total absence of any lapel insignia, shoulder rank insignia, or unit shoulder patches, all of which were required under the existing US Army regulations. The only piece of lapel insignia present is a small device on the left upper lapel that has no identifiable meaning and is definitely not US Army. Among other things, a military uniform is intended to identify the wearer to other soldiers. A great deal of information is provide in the insignia and patches he wears. If you look at this man, there is no way to identify his rank and no way to know what unit he is assigned to. I spent eight years in the US Army and I can tell you that no US soldier of any rank or assignment would want to take a chance of being caught anywhere in a uniform that is as non-regulation as the one in the photograph. But this is just an opinion. Dwight

  10. #20

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    I forgot to post this photo in my last post. This is former Eagle Squadron pilot, Don Blakeslee after being transferred to the 4th Fighter Group, USAAF. Note that his uniform has all the required insignia, and his RAF wings are worn above his right pocket. That, gentlemen, is a period photo, courtesy of the US Army Signal Corps. Dwight

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