Insignia of the Observer Corps, right through from early WW2 to stand down in 1991.
OBSERVER CORPS ARMBAND
worn by Police Special Constables undertaking the OC role. This is the first ‘uniform’ issued to the Corps, and was simply worn on the arm over regular clothes. It was a Police SC armband over-sewn with the OC name.
WW2 UNIFORM AND KIT
The first uniform of the Corps was an RAF boiler suit with an OC breast ‘soup plate’ badge issued around 1940 until 1942. This was not popular with the Corps as it was felt to not be smart, and likened to a ‘third rate plumbers uniform’ so was only used for a fairly short time. A replacement uniform was issued in 1942 – the 42 pattern Battledress. This was unique to the ROC and was of the ‘economy’ style and featured exposed buttons along the front and various other material saving measures (no lining, pleats etc). At the same time a new breast badge was issued with the addition of the word ‘Royal’. Also issued were various other items, a general service respirator and haversack, a metal brodie helmet, and an RAF ‘ZEEKEE’ storm coat. Seaborne Observers involved in D-Day 1944 were also issued Royal Navy armbands, ‘Seaborne’ shoulder flashes and a whistle on a lanyard. A black beret was issued (Tank Regiment surplus) as the RAF did not have enough midnight blue berets to supply the ROC.
POST WAR UNIFORMS
Post war new uniforms were issued in 1951 – RAF 51 pattern battledress – colloquially known as the ‘hairy mary’ – it featured a lining, concealed buttons and different shapes to the pockets and sleeves. At this time the breast badge was withdrawn and shoulder flashes introduced. A dark olive drab colour jacket and trousers (suits, protective, ROC) were issued around 1953 to provide better weather protection in the aircraft posts. (We dont have any in our collection unfortunately). A leather jerkin and woollen dufflecoat were also issued to help combat cold in the underground posts and the beret changed colour to midnight blue. These uniforms continued to be worn until the RAF (and thus the ROC) again changed uniform for the new 1972 pattern – a more modern looking zipped jacket and trousers (mothercare suit) and round neck RAF wooly pullover. These however weren’t issued to the Corps until the late 1970’s and was to be the final uniform to be worn until stand-down. A green RAF coverall and blue foul weather waterproof clothing was issued in the mid-1980’sto be worn only when at the post. In addition several ‘private purchase’ items were introduced, the ROC stable belt, RAF forage cap and WRAF hat could all be purchased and worn.
ROYAL OBSERVER CORPS MEDAL
In 1950 HM King George VI authorised a medal to be struck recognising the service of the members of the ROC. Although authorised in 1950, although some were struck with the image of King George, none were issued so all issued ROC medals feature the image of HM Queen Elizabeth II. It was individually engraved to the recipient and was issued for long service. For part time members this was 12 years, and for full time members this was 24 years. Each subsequent period was indicated by a bar on the medal ribbon, and a rosette on the uniform medal ribbon.
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Unless stated otherwise all items are in TheTimeChamber personal collection