Pattern 1940 Flying Boots : Squadron Leader K W Truscott, 452 Squadron, RAAF

Place Europe: United Kingdom
Accession Number RELAWM34732
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Uniform
Physical description Rubber, Steel, Suede, Wool fleece
Maker T S Rubber Co Ltd
Place made United Kingdom
Date made c 1940-1943
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Pattern 1940 brown suede flying boots lined with thick sheep fleece. The boots are made in four sections, a piece covering the front of the foot, another around the ankles and heel and two pieces around the lower leg. There is a strip of reinforcing sewn down the back of the boot. A steel AIr Ministry -stamped zip is fitted to the front of the boot, running to mid way over the front of the foot. An internal leather strip runs the length of the zipper to prevent catching, and is stamped with the Air Ministry initials and crown. The soles of the boots are made of rubber which also covers the toe and heel area, and displays the manufacturer's details and the moulded brand name 'ITSHIDE'. The toe and heel rubber is covered with a waterproofing material, which has hardened and deteriorated.

History / Summary

Keith William 'Bluey' Truscott became one of Australia's best-known flying aces of the Second World War. Born on 17 May 1916 at Prahran, Melbourne, he proved to be both a good student and keen sportsman, playing Australian Rules for Melbourne's premiership team in 1939. Already famous as a footballer, Truscott enlisted in the RAAF on 21 July 1940 amidst considerable publicity. Despite his sporting reputation, Truscott was not a natural pilot and almost failed his course. His position as something of a public figure afforded Truscott a chance to continue flying and he eventually earned his wings despite becoming known for his poor landings. He was sent to Canada under the Empire Air Training Scheme, was commissioned in February 1941, and then ordered to England, where he joined No. 452 Squadron as a foundation member on 5 May. Flying a Spitfire, he scored his first victory in August. Thereafter, his score began a gradual rise. After three months of war flying, he had destroyed at least 11 German aircraft, was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, and made a flight commander. In January 1942 he was made acting squadron leader before being posted back to Australia in March. Late that month he was awarded a bar to his Distinguished Flying Cross. At that point he was the most well-known pilot in the RAAF. In Australia, Truscott joined No. 76 Squadron in Bankstown. The squadron, flying Kittyhawks, had previously served in Papua. The squadron, including Truscott, redeployed there in July 1942. Before leaving Australia, Truscott played a last game for the Melbourne football club; lacking match fitness, he was unable to keep up with the play and found himself exhausted. He had received a rousing public welcome and kicked a goal, much to the fans' delight, but when he was asked whether he would play again, he replied that it was no longer for him. Based at Milne Bay, No. 76 Squadron arrived shortly before the Japanese landings. By August Truscott was in command, the previous leader having been killed in action. Truscott evacuated his aircraft to Port Moresby amidst uncertainty about whether the airfields at Milne Bay could be held. He and his squadron served throughout the Milne Bay battle in constant rain, heavy mist, and low clouds. The mountainous terrain, slippery runways, and heavy anti-aircraft fire added to the danger but Truscott survived and continued to command the squadron when it was transferred to Darwin. His tally rose to 16 enemy aircraft destroyed along with three probables and three damaged. In February 1943 the squadron moved to a quieter posting in Western Australia. Truscott was on a training flight over the Exmouth Gulf on 28 March when he made a mock attack on a low-flying Catalina. Misjudging his height over the glassy water, Truscott crashed into the sea and was killed. This style of flying boot was issued by the British Air Ministry in 1940 and modified the following year with the addition of an ankle strap to help retain the boot when parachuting.