A very rare pair of British Army Air Observation Post pilots flying boots which were made in 1945 by 'John White'.
Officially designated 'Boots, Air OP Pilot', these boots were specifically designed and issued to British Army pilots flying on Air Observation Post duties for the Royal Artillery. They carry the specification number U/1656 and the catalogue number of CD1935-51.
On first looking at the boots they look similar to the RAF 1936 pattern boot but are actually much shorter in height and feature a very different construction with no end-on-end stitching between the quarter and the upper as well as a front seam which is covered by a tape. Also of note is only the top part of the upper features a sheepskin lining rather than the full lining found on most RAF flying boots of the period. This is because most AOP pilots were doing very low level work, mainly in Auster aircraft, so the need for warm clothing was much less than that of the RAF who were often flying at a much higher altitude. The boots feature a strap towards the top which fastens with a single prong chrome plated metal buckle. The sealed pattern of these boots actually featured a 'Bennetts' as seen on early flying helmets. This was clearly replaced by 1945 with the style seen here.
Inside the boots the maker's name of 'John White' is stamped to the insole, as is the 1945 date. The soles are also marked and feature the military size of 8M which confirms them as an issue item. Whilst marked as an 8 they will also fit up to a size 9 comfortably.
The boots are in good condition on the whole and display well. There are signs of service wear and some age etc but overall they appear to be sound with no serious flaws or damage. There is a slight cut to one of the leather straps where it passes through the metal buckle. Please take time to study the pictures before purchasing and bear in mind that these boots are a pre-worn, vintage item which may have small issues commensurate with age.
A very rare pair of original wartime boots which are undoubtedly missing from many collections!