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RAF 'B' Squadron Presentation Tankard 1940 with possible CUAS Connections
A fine wartime example that clearly has a story to tell! Sadly the provenance has been lost down the years but we have certain clues to go on. On the base rim is embossed 'Mathers & Son Cambridge'. We believe this to be a Cambridge retailer rather than the manufacturer as we have seen clocks with the same name but we could of course be wrong. The base is also stamped 482 followed by a flower shaped device and 1/2 PT indication a half pint capacity. To the front of the tankard is a set of hand engraved RAF Wings surmounted by a Kings Crown and below the wording 'From "B" Squadron March Eights 1940'. Our surmise on this piece is it was purchased by Cambridge University Air Squadron (CUAS) from a local retailer and they had it engraved. The 'March Eights 'that could be a reference to a Cambridge University Rowing Club event and perhaps it was presented as a winner's prize.
Cambridge University Air Squadron was formed in October 1925 and was the first in the country. The University Air Squadrons were an important source for aircrew for the RAF in the pre war years and special concessions were made to members of the University Air Squadrons in the way of seniority if they subsequently joined the RAF. From 1937 members in their third year who were sufficiently proficient could be commissioned in the newly-created RAFVR. Surprisingly all UAS's were disbanded in September 1939 but were reformed again in 1940. The value of these 'publicly-funded flying clubs' was demonstrated emphatically by the contribution made by former UAS members to the war effort and during the Battle of Britain when no less than 97 formed part of Churchill's 'Few', with many still wearing their pre war 'badge of honour 'Prestige flying suits.
Suffice to say it is a nice period example with an ornate handle and glass bottom. It is very slightly distorted, as is often the case with tankards that have generally enjoyed a working life, in addition to being a presentation piece. It would no doubt polish up if so required but we prefer to leave it in 'as found' condition and we like to think it may have been used in the smoke filled bar of 'The Eagle', much frequented by RAF and USAAF aircrew in WWI. This unique pub became a favourite haunt for them and many of their signatures remain on the ceiling, a reminder of times gone by and bring back many emotive memories;it is a must do if you should are everin Cambridge and just as important as a visit to Kings College chapel to all those of a certain inclination! If any visitors to the site can add anything in regard to the pewter marks detailed or our surmise on the tankards early history please get in touch and we will add this to our description. Measures c.4" high (10 cm)