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Paul Reed

Balloonatic?

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Paul Reed

Any ideas what this chap is in? Balloon observer? Your help and comments appreciated.

post-25-1074439900.jpg

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Guest Pete Wood

Paul, take away the headgear, and I'd be fairly sure that this was someone who, perhaps, had regular shifts up the crows nest of a ship.

That outfit looks more 'wet weather' protection than cold weather protection.

But there is obviously a wireless involved.

So my guess is that he is Merchant Navy; submariner, perhaps....?

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Paul Reed

Thanks Peter - I hadn't thought of that. I bought this 15+ years ago with a load of RFC material, so just presumed he was the same!

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Krithia

Looks like a Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) flyer to me. They commonly wore black, double-breasted flying gear ... is that a life vest he is wearing ?

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Max

It really is a fantastic photo. Bit unfortunate about his ears though. :blink:

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duckman

Surely not all wet weather gear - not with those bigarse mink mittens.

He has to be an aviator of some description. Airship or flying boat crew, possibly???

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Dolphin

The gentleman's inflatable vest looks like a standard RNAS/RAF issue Perrin/Auliff belt, which would have been a dull yellow colour.

My guess is an RNAS airman or someone who was RNAS before being moved to the RAF.

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Paul Reed

Many thanks for all your replies- most helpful.

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Fleur

none of you have made comment about how young he looks!

Fleur

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Guest Pete Wood

Paul, everyone was right EXCEPT me.

I've been through some books and found the 'black' RNAS coat described by Krithia. An almost identical civilian version was called the Burfron (and believed superior to the military item).

I've found the "bigarse mink mittens" on the observer of a RNAS floatplane, as described by Duckman. I've even found a balloon observer wearing the same mits.

The same chap with the mittens, based in Yarmouth, and flying a Short Type 827, was also wearing an inflatable vest as described by Dolphin.

The "unfortunate ears", described by Max, are hiding under a MkI helmet - worn by RFC/RNAS pilots and observers.

You could buy all this equipment from Gieves Ltd of 21 Old Bond Street, London or 5 Rue Auber in Paris.

Sorry for sending people off after the proverbial wild geese.

And yes, Fleur, he looks about 16 years old to me - which probably means he is the 35 year old CO.

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trenchwalker

its baldrick aint it.

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John D

Attached for interest is a 'Balloonatic' kitting up. The photo was taken in May 1918 in France. You can see the parachutes on the left hand side by the ladder. (Background info - the officer with the parachute harness on was Lt D Dening, and the unit was 42 Kite Balloon Section)

post-25-1074537646.jpg

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Guest auliff

Can anyone give me information on my uncle's life jacket?

Peter Auliff

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Dolphin

The most sophisticated life jacket of the period was designed before the War (1909-1910) by Frenchman M Paul Perrin, while Mr Mark Auliff was his agent in the UK. It was made of a dull yellow rubberised fabric bladder linked in front by triangular D rings and snap hooks (prominent in the photograph that started this thread). There were braces that went over the shoulders. Inflation was by way of compressed gas that was released by a lever. When inflated, the preserver was supposed to float so that the wearer's face was out of the water.

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Guest auliff
The most sophisticated life jacket of the period was designed before the War (1909-1910) by Frenchman M Paul Perrin, while Mr Mark Auliff was his agent in the UK. It was made of a dull yellow rubberised fabric bladder linked in front by triangular D rings and snap hooks (prominent in the photograph that started this thread). There were braces that went over the shoulders. Inflation was by way of compressed gas that was released by a lever. When inflated, the preserver was supposed to float so that the wearer's face was out of the water.

Thanks. It is wonderful to get so much infomation after so long. :)

I had been told that the advantage of this life jacket was that it kept the wearers face out of the water

My brother told me that it was self inflateable with a gas bottle.

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