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Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

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

  1. #1

    Default Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    I picked up a beauty of a photo of an American pilot, wearing an RAF uniform. If you look closely he has US issue buttons and US wings on the RAF tunic. He also wears the VR collars denoting that he was probably pre/early ww2 volunteer. What has me baffled is the ribbons which appear to be WW1 French and US mixed. I think I can pick out the Croix De Guerre with palm, French Bravery award and the US Germany Occupation ribbon for WW1. I am lost on the rest. Any help would be greatly appreciated in identifying this guy or his ribbons at least. Either way he is at very least a rare US volunteer to the RAF. The curator at RAF Hendon could not help at all and remains baffled. Photo by Bassong. This is a large and expensive looking photo from a prominent photographer of the time. I highly doubt that this is someone playing dress up. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I am at a loss at present.

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  2. #2

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    Could you take a good close-up of the wings and ribbons and post it? Dwight

  3. #3

    Exclamation Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Here is a close up. You can clearly see the US buttons. I have tentatively identified the Croix De Guerre with Palm (top center), the French Bravely Award (Bottom Left) and the American Occupation of Germany WW1 (Bottom Right). Not sure if these are accurate, but seem to fit in the order shown. The photographer is Bassano, not Bassong. From what I can find, they were around from the late 1800s through 1939 in London, so this photo would be early. I have photo number on the reverse if anyone knows how to research the photographer's files. Long shot, I know.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    Could the top left be the WWI Victory? And the top right be the Mexican Border Service? It appears to have a stain or a flaw in the left side of the ribbon which should be the same on both sides. IMO

    Thanks for showing this picture as it's a neat piece of history.

    Happiness is a belt fed weapon

  5. #5

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    hi BB,sorry I do not like it.I don't think there were any americans in the RAF in 1939 until 1940. and they certainly would not wear that getup.harry.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    I'm wondering if this is a photo of Billy Bishop or Clayton Knight, they were recruiters for American pilots to join the RCAF and RAF, during the 30s and early 40s

  7. #7

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    I agree with Harry for three reasons. The first is that in order for this man to have earned the three WWI awards he has, and to have also been awarded the US WWII Victory medal, he would have been at least 50 years old when this photo was made. My Cousin, Jim Dye, was an American volunteer to the RAF in 1940. At the time he was 30 years old and the USAAF deemed him too old to fly single engine day fighters. The RAf was accepting American male volunteers from 20 to 31. That means that the man in the photo would have had to have fallen into this age range in 1940. But if he was a WWI veteran, he would have been at least 18 years old when WWI ended. Do the math, 1918 to 1940 is 22 years, so now we would have a 40 year old man trying to join a group that has a cut-off age for pilot training at 31. The seond reason I doubt the authenticity of the photograph is that he isn't wearing RAF wings. When my cousin transferred into the USAAF 335th Sqdn., 4th Fighter Group, he continued to wear his RAF wings over his right pocket, as did most of his mates. The third problem I have is the mix of uniform parts, and the mix of WWI and WWII ribbons on a guy who looks to be in his early 30's at the oldest. Below is a photo of Jim Dye while he was still in the RAF climbing into a Spitfire. It's a publicity photo and was later used on the jacket of the 4th Fighter Group history. Dwight

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  8. #8

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    Davejb: You're right that Billy Bishop and Clayton Knight were recruiters for the RAF in 1940. The two of them were known as the Clayton Knight Committee. But at the time, and throughout the war, Bishop held the rank of Air Marshall, so I doubt he would have posed for a photo in an outlandish get-up as the one in the original post. Here are two photos of Bishop for comparison.
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    Clayton Knight was 49 in 1940. I don't have a contemporary photo of him, but here is a copy of a postwar newspaper photo. Even in his advanced age, he has no resemblence to the man in the posted photo. Dwight

    Click image for larger version. 

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  9. #9

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    It is a 'dress up' picture done for fun. All fo the reasons above completely render this into the interesting, but not signifcant category. Who knows what the circumstances were - a few guys form various units at teh phto studio at teh same time do a little switching around for fun - voila.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Unusual Pilot... Help with ID

    asterperious: I do believe you have the answer. dwight

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