RAAF Pattern 37 water bottle with attached clasp knife : Flight Lieutenant T E W Howes, RAAF, 70 Squadron RAF

Place Middle East
Accession Number REL34352.001
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Brass, Cork, Cotton webbing, Felt, Tin
Maker Finnigans
Place made United Kingdom
Date made 1942
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Pattern 37 full bodied RAF/RAAF webbing water bottle carrier and attached brass buckle shoulder strap, originally dyed grey (this is evident on the shoulder strap). The water bottle is a standard British pattern enamelled tin example, but in black rather than the expected blue enamel. It is supplied with a cork stopper with a tin cap. The carrier fully encloses the bottle, rather than the skeleton strap design expected from this pattern. A clasp knife is tied to the upper part of the shoulder strap with string.

History / Summary

Related to the service of 404900 Thomas Edward White Howes. Employed by Qantas Airways, Brisbane before the war, he enlisted in the RAAF on 6 December 1940 aged 18. He trained in Australia and in Canada as part of the Empire Air Training Scheme (EATS). After training he embarked for the United Kingdom, where he completed his training as a navigator, flying in Wellington bombers in January 1942.

Howes was commissioned as a Flying Officer on 15 March and was assigned to 70 (Wellington) Squadron, RAF in the Middle East later that month. The squadron was equipped with Vickers Wellingtons based at Qotafiyah, Egypt. His first mission on 28 April was against German supply shipping anchored at Benghazi. With targets ranging from shipping and airfields to road convoys and supply dumps, Howes flew 13 night missions through May and June 1942.

The squadron moved northwest of Cairo in the wake of the allied retreat. He later transferred to 104 (Wellington) Squadron, RAF and having flown 44 operational missions, it appears that Howes took on a navigator training role with 203 Group.

He was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in September 1943 before moving to RAF Aquir in Palestine, (south of Tel-Aviv). On 6 May 1944 Howes embarked for Australia, arriving on 4 June. He was transferred to the RAAF Reserve on 16 March 1945, enabling him to rejoin Qantas. He remained with the RAAF Reserve until at least the late 1950s. During the Vietnam War, he served as a navigator on the Qantas ‘Skippy’ troop flights to and from Vietnam.