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RFC ww1 id tag found! Any help wanted!

Article about: Adrian mentioned that Wilson was ground crew with the rank of Air Mechanic 1st Class. I would caution that the rank of Air Mechanic applied to all RFC privates. It did not denote his job in

  1. #11

    Default Re: RFC ww1 id tag found! Any help wanted!

    Adrian mentioned that Wilson was ground crew with the rank of Air Mechanic 1st Class. I would caution that the rank of Air Mechanic applied to all RFC privates. It did not denote his job in the RFC, just his rank. I think it is amazing that Adrian can find these cards so quickly, indeed that he can find them at all(!) but unless there is some sort of occupation code on the card, I would suggest that the presence of the silver id suggests he was aircrew, not ground crew. I base this upon my understanding of the purpose of these bracelets. First of all, it is NOT a dog tag. It is a private purchase silver id bracelet commonly worn by aircrew and other front line combatants. My AAF father had one in WW2 and he referred to it as his "crash bracelet". He explained its rationale as follows: in the event of a crash, a pilot needs an id that is very bright and visible to those that are picking up the bits and pieces, won't melt in a hot fire, won't readily discolor and become hard to see in wreckage after a fire, and won't quickly discolor or corrode with routine wear. Silver meets all those needs. Silver will stand out in the wreckage, it has a much higher melting point than does gold, won't discolor in, or after, a fire as readily as will steel, and won't quickly corrode or discolor with routine wear. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to see this myself and I can confirm silver works for this purpose. I have never read anything saying why WW1 airmen so frequently bought these, in addition to their issued dog tags, but I suspect their purposes were probably much like my father's twenty some odd years later. Of course, aircrew weren't the only ones to wear these bracelets, but the majority of those I have seen over the years were RFC and, secondarily, other combat arms. A silver bracelet on an infantryman would still stand out fairly well even after lying for a month or two in no man's land, or even on a gunner in his gun pit after an unsuccessful artillery dual. On the other hand, a silver bracelet would be an expensive and unneeded luxury for a rear area ground crewman making only a shilling or two a day. I admit this is largely conjecture, but I believe it is well reasoned conjecture. Of course, if I am full of beans, I am fairly confident that someone will point that out in short order. Until then, however, I would suggest that this bracelet is an indication that this man was RFC aircrew.
    Last edited by wingandprop; 04-03-2011 at 08:56 AM.

  2. #12

    Default

    Hi Seb,

    here's the chap's service record.

    Cheers, Tom

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	GBM-AIR79-99-00067.jpg 
Views:	33 
Size:	210.4 KB 
ID:	914757Click image for larger version. 

Name:	GBM-AIR79-99-00068.jpg 
Views:	32 
Size:	210.2 KB 
ID:	914758

  3. #13

    Default

    I think that the theory about a silver id bracelet indicating 'aircrew is credible but I don't personally think that it is any indicator that the owner was aircrew. I have hallmarked and sterling silver marked id bracelets to 'humble' privates and NCOs. These id bracelets were often given by parents and sweethearts so pay is also not necessarily a factor in affordability. Whatever the owners trade its a fine example and a great find.

    happy christmas

    Mark

    Quote by wingandprop View Post
    Adrian mentioned that Wilson was ground crew with the rank of Air Mechanic 1st Class. I would caution that the rank of Air Mechanic applied to all RFC privates. It did not denote his job in the RFC, just his rank. I think it is amazing that Adrian can find these cards so quickly, indeed that he can find them at all(!) but unless there is some sort of occupation code on the card, I would suggest that the presence of the silver id suggests he was aircrew, not ground crew. I base this upon my understanding of the purpose of these bracelets. First of all, it is NOT a dog tag. It is a private purchase silver id bracelet commonly worn by aircrew and other front line combatants. My AAF father had one in WW2 and he referred to it as his "crash bracelet". He explained its rationale as follows: in the event of a crash, a pilot needs an id that is very bright and visible to those that are picking up the bits and pieces, won't melt in a hot fire, won't readily discolor and become hard to see in wreckage after a fire, and won't quickly discolor or corrode with routine wear. Silver meets all those needs. Silver will stand out in the wreckage, it has a much higher melting point than does gold, won't discolor in, or after, a fire as readily as will steel, and won't quickly corrode or discolor with routine wear. I have had the unfortunate opportunity to see this myself and I can confirm silver works for this purpose. I have never read anything saying why WW1 airmen so frequently bought these, in addition to their issued dog tags, but I suspect their purposes were probably much like my father's twenty some odd years later. Of course, aircrew weren't the only ones to wear these bracelets, but the majority of those I have seen over the years were RFC and, secondarily, other combat arms. A silver bracelet on an infantryman would still stand out fairly well even after lying for a month or two in no man's land, or even on a gunner in his gun pit after an unsuccessful artillery dual. On the other hand, a silver bracelet would be an expensive and unneeded luxury for a rear area ground crewman making only a shilling or two a day. I admit this is largely conjecture, but I believe it is well reasoned conjecture. Of course, if I am full of beans, I am fairly confident that someone will point that out in short order. Until then, however, I would suggest that this bracelet is an indication that this man was RFC aircrew.

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