An original pair of RAF 1943 pattern escape boots which belonged to a Warrant Officer who flew in Lancasters during the Second World War.
John Farquhar McGregor 1823708 enlisted in the RAF in Edinburgh in late 1943 and was selected for aircrew training. He trained as a wireless operator and became a signaller who served on Lancasters flying from the UK with Bomber Command. He was awarded the France and Germany Star which means he flew on raids over occupied Europe although I have not been able to identify with which squadron. By March 1945 he was with 1654 Heavy Conversion Unit based at RAF Wigsley in Nottinghamshire where on the night of the 3rd of March he was shot down by a JU88 and bailed out over Lincolnshire. He became a member of the Caterpillar club and details of the attack can be found in the RAF records along with some other similar attacks on the same squadron that night. In late 1945 John was posted to India where he served into 1946.
John was reputedly wearing these boots, along with a lot of his other items offered for sale on my website, on the night that he was shot down. The wear on them is consistent with a pair of boots which has seen action so there is a high chance these were worn on 'Ops'.
This pattern of boots was introduced in 1943 and saw widespread issue with the RAF. They also saw use with a variety of American flyers serving with the USAAF 8th and 9th Air Forces. They were designed not just for flying but for escape and evasion use, as a huge amount of flying was by this stage of the war taking place over occupied Europe. The idea behind the boots was that the suede uppers could be cut off leaving a simple civilian shoe which would arouse less suspicion than a flying boot if worn in occupied territory. The suede uppers could then be zipped together to create a waistcoat and keep the wearer warm.
Both the suede uppers and the shoes are lined with sheepskin for warmth when flying at altitude, giving them a snug feeling when worn. The uppers close with brass zippers which bear the War Department broad arrow to one side. The soles and heels are the originals and are in good condition with some signs of wear. The laces are also the original and the one on the right boot has broken halfway and been tied back together. This is how they were found and clearly how John wore them so have not been tampered with.
The condition of the boots is very good as can be seen in the pictures. The black leather shoes are in good condition with some scuffing at the toes. The suede uppers are equally clean and the sheepskin lining is also very nice.
A rare opportunity to add a Bomber Command attributed pair of boots to your collection!
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