Headgear worn by RAF servicemen and women during WW2 has seen an increase in interest in recent years. Collectors look for variations. The higher the rank level, the fewer were made, which makes them more desirable. The most basic cap was the side cap – or forage cap – for an enlisted man. This had a standard RAF brass cap badge on the side. However, officers’ side caps are generally of better quality with gilt badges. Officers’ visor caps were often privately tailored to the owner’s individual requirements. This could mean that they added a soft leather sweatband or handmade insignia, etc. These variations are what create collecting differences. So, let’s explore a few pieces of WW2 RAF headgear currently for sale.
Early Model RAF Officer’s Visor Cap
First, let’s look at this distinctive RAF officer’s visor cap from the 1920s. Although slightly deformed in shape, it only has minor fading to the exterior colour and no signs of external damage or moth. The badge has been sewn lightly onto the main cap which retains it’s narrow, black leather WW1-style chinstrap.
Both of the cloth-covered side buttons are in place. As is the leather interior lining, and there is a section of the forehead area which is protected by a band of velvet. The internal multi-row stitching is indicative of similar earlier period visor caps. All of the above features speak to a private-purchase item by an officer. Such items are often unique, making them highly collectible.
Available from Regimentals in the UK for £325.
WW2 RAF Officer’s Side Cap
Manufactured in blue barathea wool, this clean cap has gilt officers’ insignia and King’s Crown brass buttons on the front. On the inside it has a champagne-coloured lining, as well as a brown velvet-edged sweatband. It does have a couple of small moth holes, but otherwise it is in great condition given its age. Caps such as this were the standard issue for officers, hence the upgraded quality compared to an enlisted man’s cap.
Available for sale from CS Militaria in the UK for £75.
WW2 RAF Enlisted Man’s Forage Cap
Next we have a British RAF enlisted man’s forage cap in blue wool. It is well marked, size 7 1/2 and dated 1940 on the inside. The exterior has the correct pair of brass King’s Crown buttons on the front and other ranks brass cap badge on the side. With collecting RAF items, many people search for 1940 and 1941 dated items. This is because of the Battle of Britain; items produced during this period were likely issued to Battle of Britain airmen.
For sale from Relic Militaria in the UK for £68.
WW2 RAF Officer’s Side Cap
A great example of a WW2 officer’s side cap with the correct gilt officer’s eagle and crown on the side, and King’s Crown buttons on the front. This example is not dated but it is typical of those worn during WW2. It has light service wear and it is a good piece of WW2 RAF headgear. Caps such as this are my personal preference; worn but not too much, yet in overall good condition.
For sale from Battleflag Militaria in the UK £95.
Royal Canadian Air Force Group Captain’s Visor Cap
Although technically not RAF, with Canada being one of the largest members of the Commonwealth, their own airforce fought alongside the British RAF during WW2. Due to Britain being a lot closer to mainland Europe, it was an obvious choice for a hub to train and organise Commonwealth and Allied troops before sending them over to the frontline.
This blue-grey RCAF Group Captain’s private purchase visor cap has a four-piece body and one-piece crown. It is complete with a leather liner band and leaves on the peak, as well as the manufacturer’s information on the inside of the crown. In the RAF – or in this case RCAF – the rank of captain is quite senior, making this a rare cap to find. Plus, with all of the embroidery along the peak, it makes for an impressive display item.
It is in good, used condition, consistent with having been worn during the war. On the inside there is an impressed maker’s mark in the leather band for the ‘Muir Cap Company’.
Offered for sale by The Collector’s Guild in the USA for $799.
Are you interested in WW2 British Army headgear? CLICK HERE for our recent post about British helmets.
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