RAF uniform to Air Commodore Walter L. Runciman, 1931/1943

RAF uniform to Air Commodore Walter L. Runciman, 1931/1943

Code: U27607


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 wartime No.1 Service Dress uniform with the rank of Air Commodore, obtained by the previous owner from Sotheby's in 1992.  The jacket was tailored by Watson, Fagerstrom and Hughes of Hannover Square, London.  It has superb padded 'narrow' King's crown pilot wings, brass Auxiliary 'A's at the collar, King's crown buttons and belt buckle, Air Commodore rank lace on the cuffs and medal ribbons for the OBE, AFC, Defence, War, 1935 Jubilee, 1937 Coronation, 1953 Coronation, Air Efficiency and another unknown medal.  Interestingly the tunic wasn't tailored with a belt and only has one brass hanger, presumably for a sword belt/hanger.  The tunic has the tailor's label, named to Air Commodore the Hon. L Runciman and is dated 1943.  It comes with unlabelled matching button fly trousers and his 1931 dated Greatcoat tailored by Gieves.  This has Air Commodore rank epaulettes with brass 'A's, brass main and cuff buttons, full belt with brass buckle etc.  The tunic and trousers are in excellent overall condition, the Greatcoat shows minor wear but is in very good condition.  The uniform comes with some biographical details, a super photograph of his visit to 607 Squadron at Vitry, France on 22nd February 1940 (note he is almost certainly wearing the Greatcoat offered here and check out his fabulous 1930 pattern boots!). There is also a photograph of him with Squadron Leader Blackadder at the 607 Sqdrn. reunion dinner in 1987, a photocopy of the Consecration and Presentation of the 607 Squadron Standard c. 1960 and a couple of photocopied newspaper obituaries.  Stock code U27607.

NB - See also Runciman's pre-war/WW2 No.5 uniform being offered.