RAF 1930 Pattern Flying Helmet with History
Often overlooked by collectors but an early and important part of the evolution of RAF issue flying helmets. This design replaced the RFC Mk1 helmet and was the predecessor of the B helmet that entered service in 1935. Issued against stores reference 22C/57 many helmets were modified by the addition of flap type receiver housings, designated 22C/57, to accommodate radio-telephones or acoustic Gosport Tubes. Others are documented to have had 'B' type receiver cups fitted and adapted to take the D oxygen mask and so served into the early part of WW11. This example remains as issued without flaps being fitted and the dark chestnut leather remains in remarkably good condition. These helmets carried a wide chin strap and a large buckle fastening ; the strap remains in sound condition although three of the metal eyelets are missing. The leather covered buckle, often a weak point, is close to mint. Inside the chamois lining is excellent but shows normal service wear commensurate with use. In the crown is an original manufacturers label and whist the writing has more or less worn away we can just decipher the maker is H.Bendall who went on to supply the 'B' helmet to the Air Ministry. We can not decipher the size or date although an ink stamp shows '9' and '33' so have assumed it was manufactured in 1933. It also carries a further ink stamp that M +2. The only real issue with this helmet, as is often the case with the 1930 pattern, is the interlining has hardened and crystallised but this does not impact from a display point of view. The velvet brow and chin strap lining remains sound. What makes this already scarce and early helmet even more interesting is that it comes with provenance of the original owner, having been purchased from his family back in 2003, since when it has resided in my own personal collection. It was owned by Cecil Ferdinand Chinery, who was born 1 March 1896 and who served with the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in the last year of WW1. Post war he transferred to the fledgling RAF and served in Palestine and also flew in various air displays at Hendon in the interwar years. He continued to serve into WW11 but in a non-flying capacity, including time based at RAF Cardington. The family told me they had had a photograph of Wing Commander Chinery shaking hands with King George V1 whilst on an official visit, but now sadly mislaid. He was appointed a Commander of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire Military Division (OBE) on 11 July 1940. All too often the stories associated with the kit we purchase has been lost down the years but this is certainly the exception and a letter confirming the provenance will be supplied to the new custodian.