Rolls Razor Imperial No 2 shaving set : Flight Lieutenant T E W Howes, RAAF, 70 Squadron RAF

Accession Number REL34356
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Personal Equipment
Physical description Chrome-plated metal, Leather, Nickel-plated steel, Steel
Maker Rolls Razor Ltd
Place made United Kingdom: England, Greater London, London, Camden, Cricklewood
Date made 1927
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Rectangular chrome plated case with rounded edges and a latched lid on each side, with the lids bearing a repeating key pattern. A small circular maker's impressed mark appears on each side, with one side reading 'Rolls Razor / The Whetter' accompanied by an image of a kneeling man sharpening a razor, while the other side reads: 'Rolls Razor (1927) Ltd / Made in England / Patented in England and Abroad / English Patents numbers: 108531, 184514, 184515, 184754, 224578, 242717, 242716 and pending.' Additionally, one side of the case is engraved 'B536599'.

Each lid is released via a round patterned knob on each short side. Opening one side of the case reveals a razor blade contained within a roller rack with attached operating handle - all nickel plated - designed to slide along a track. Employing a back and forward sliding action sharpens the razor against a red leather strop sheet attached to the inside of the opposite lid. The strop is impressed at one end 'Strop. Made in England'. Utilising the opposite lid brings the razor against a black honing stone. The blade is removable. A separate nickel plated razor handle is included in the case and can be stored either in the side channel, or (for travelling) attached to the strop handle. Both faces of the razor blade are hand engraved - 'Rolls Razor Pat Nos: '224578 , 242718' appears on one side and 'Best Sheffield Steel' on the other.

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.