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Remembered Today:

Balloonatic?


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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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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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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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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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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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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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  • 4 weeks later...

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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  • 3 weeks later...
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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