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RAF/RN Far East POWs - Help with Uniform ID Please


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Greetings:

Delighted to be jumping in (again!?)

I'm a relative new-comer (in terms of postings) to GMIC, (but I suspect several members will recognise me from various other Fora).

I'm currently trying to identify the (non-Japanese) uniforms in the accompanying photo -- which was supposedly taken in early-mid 1942, in Sumatra (Dutch East Indies cum Indonesia) shortly after the fall of Singapore.

The person who inherited the photo (the som of a Far East POW) suggested the chappies in naval uniforms (ie., back row, standing, 3rd from right in whites; and back row, standing, last on right in the bush hat) were Royal (or Commonwealth) Navy officers. I have my doubts. Any thoughts -- pro or con -- greatly appreciated.

Also, any views on the two air force uniforms also appreciated. To me, they look RAF (or Commonwealth) for the period -- but I am far from an expert on such matters.

Cheers,

and thank you,

Glen

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I think the two officers wearing chip-bags are RAF, but the navy guys are more likely Dutch - the officers' insignia are in the same form (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranks_and_insignia_of_officers_of_NATO_Navies) and the cap-badge of the one in the centre of the rear rank doesn't look RN. The little one in the topee is Dutch too, I think.

My father was in Sumatra after the fall of Singapore, having been moved there with the rest of the groundcrew of 243 Squadron. They were servicing a squadron of Hurricanes until their own groundcrew arrived. When they did my father's outfit left the airfield at Palambang - just before (minutes before) the Japanese parachutists were dropped - he saw them as he drove away, and the Hurricane Sqn guys were all captured. He was lucky - with the rest of 243 Sqn he was taken over to Java, thence to India, and finally made it back to England - if he hadn't, I wouldn't be here!

Bill

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the Captain (?) in the centre could be Royal Netherlands Navy, but the photo is to blurry to make out the cap badge.

Dutch Naval officers had shoulderboards with 6 corners, while RN and Commonwealth Naval officers had 5 shoulder boards with 5 corners.

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Thanks for your comments. Much appreciated,indeed.

I've done a (simple) Google search for a RNLN officers' cap badge -- for sake of comparision to the RN one -- but am surprised that I can't seem to find an example on the net. If any knows where such a badge can be seen, I'd be grateful for a link or image.

Cheers,

Glen

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And only the cap...

The cap badge for all RNLN officers is in general the same for all officers of the Sea Branch, embroidered in gold wire, with a wreath of oak leaves, and a woven cap band of silk (or like wise material) in "W" weave. Officers of the Naval Air Service had a 2-bladed propellor, in place of the fowl anchor, Paymasters had the total badge executed in silver, Doctors had the aesculapis in gold, Chemistst had the aesculapis in silver, Engines officers had a torch crossed with 2 arrows.

Differences with RN cap badges are: Different crown, no colored velvet in the crown, not a silver anchor, other leaves.

Edited by Odulf
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Thank you, Odulf. I very much appreciate your efforts in my support.

The overall shape of both the mystery badge (in the first photo) and the badge you have shown are both "more round" than the standard RN cap badge (which I would describe as "almost triangular"). That's good, in so far as linking the two.

What's not so good, however, is the apparent differences in the thickness of the leaves between the 2 badges (ie.,between the mystery one and the one you provided). It seems the leaves in the latter badge are thicker than those in the "mystery badge", (unless that's because in the Dutch navy flag officers have thicker leaves in their badges than those below flag rank?).

If it weren't for the circular curl on the rank, I would think the mystery naval officer could have been a merchant navy captain, (ie., master).

Thanks again.

Glen

Edited by Ceylon
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Glen,

I found this example of a kapitein ter zee from the 1930s in tropical whites, which may help a little more. This picture of the later Vice-Admiral H. Ferwerda (1885-1942), Commandant of the ZeemachtNederlandsch Indië 1936-1939.

Kopstu1.gif

My guess is that your man may be MN rather than the Royal Netherlands Navy as there are differences in the shortness of the anchor in the cap badge, the dark surround at the top of the badge, as well as the two marks on either side of the circular stylized knot on the shoulder boards. Anyway, just my observations.

Cheers.

James

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