RAF Mess dress uniform to Air Commodore W.L. Runciman, 1931

RAF Mess dress uniform to Air Commodore W.L. Runciman, 1931

Code: U27608


Rare uniform to Air Commodore (Walter) Leslie, 2nd Viscount Runciman Bt., OBE, AFC, AE, DL.  He was born in Newcastle upon Tyne on 26th August 1900, son of Walter Runciman, first Viscount Runciman of Doxford (1870-1949) and Hilda Stevenson.  He grew up at Doxford Hall, was educated at Eton and Cambridge after which he joined the family shipping firm.  He had a keen interest in aviation and joined the Newcastle Aero Club in 1928 where he gained his pilots licence.  With his own aircraft he became a 'weekend flyer' and flew all over the UK and Europe, taking part in the King's Cup Air Races in the early 1930s with some success.  In March 1930, at the invitation of the Air Ministry, he formed 607 (County of Durham) Squadron Royal Auxilliary Air Force at Unsworth, Sunderland.  It was initially equipped with Westland Wapati biplanes, later replaced with Hawker Demons and Runciman trained with and flew with the Squadron as Commanding Officer.  In 1937 he was awarded the Air Force Cross and the Air Efficiency medal.   In 1938, Runciman, who was deeply involved with civil aviation, was made a Director of Imperial Airways and British Airways to assist their amalgamation to the British and Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) of which he became the first Director General in 1940.  During 1941 he undertook a prolonged aerial tour of the developing Empire Air Routes in Africa and Asia but by 1943 the Air Minister had denied BOAC the means to become an independant transport organisation in favour of the newly formed RAF Transport Command.  Runciman resigned later that year and it was a source of great regret that by this time, he was too old to fly operationally with 607 Squadron.  Instead, as an Honorary Air Commodore, he was made Air Attache to the British Empire in Tehran.  In the pursuit of his duties he was called upon to handle General de Gaulle and his wayward and determined efforts to fly around the Middle East in all weathers.  He also attended the ceremony when Winston Churchill presented the Stalingrad Sword to Stalin, who almost dropped it which would have been disastrous as the scabbard was made from glass.  This appointment ended in 1946 after which he resumed his connection with 607.  He was there for the presentation of the standard when the Queen awarded it on completion of 25 years since its inception and on the occasion of the disbandment parade in 1957.
Runciman was awarded the OBE for war service in 1946 and died on 1st September 1989 at the age of 89.  

Here we are offering Runciman's No.5 Mess dress uniform with the rank of Air Commodore.  The jacket, tailored by Gieves Ltd., has a lovely bullion King's crown pilot wing, brass 'A' auxiliary collar badges, King's crown buttons, bullion Air Commodore rank lace on the cuffs and stitch loops for his medal ribbons.  It comes with matching waistcoat and a pair of button-fly trousers.  Both jacket and trousers are labelled/named to him and have May 1931 dates (like the Greatcoat offered with his No.1 uniform in a separate lot).  Aside from a small hole in the back of the jacket, condition is generally very good.  Stock code U27608.

NB - See also Runciman's pre-war WW2 No.1 uniform being offered.