It was wrapped up and hidden for almost 70 years. Now a well-preserved Royal Air Force pilot’s uniform from the Second World War is set to be sold at auction.
The uniform, consisting of jacket and trousers, was found in a house in Rolleston-on-Dove, East Staffordshire, during a home clear-out. It was wrapped in crumpled brown paper and yellowing newspapers, all tied together with string.
The find, made under the bed of a recently deceased elderly man, was passed on unopened to Hansons Auctioneers. His family believe it belonged either to him or to one of his brothers.
Hansons Auctioneers said it believed the type of uniform was worn by RAF pilot crew until 1941, and by ground staff until 1943. The jacket included brass King’s Crown buttons and a belt. It also featured an emblem of a three-blade propeller on the sleeve, indicting the uniform of a senior airman.
In a statement, auctioneer Charles Hanson said it was like finding ‘an unopened Christmas present from a forgotten era.’
‘As I gently pulled the wrapping apart, a sizeable chunk of blue material became visible. Much to my amazement, it turned out to be an RAF jacket [with] matching trousers neatly folded up underneath.’
‘This is a wonderful piece of military history,’ Hanson added. ‘Still in good condition and perfectly wearable.’
The sheets of newspaper in which the uniform was wrapped are revealing in themselves. Pages from the Burton Mail include advertisements for pianos for sale, dancing classes, as well as for a Velocette motorbike priced at £59.
An article in the Daily Express, dated 22 November 1951, has the headline ‘What the boss looks for in the ideal secretary’ and goes on to suggest that women should avoid wearing red nail polish and know which biscuits to serve with tea.
The uniform will be auctioned at Etwall in Derbyshire on 24 September, when it is expected to sell for between £200 and £300.