617 Squadron uniform sold on Ebay ‘likely to be fake’

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Several items of wartime RAF uniform, some supposedly once owned by 617 Squadron veteran Flt Lt (later Sqn Ldr) Lawrence ‘Benny’ Goodman, were recently sold on Ebay for a total of about £1065. These were the items listed:

The seller claimed that:

Back in 2009, I acquired a large military/aviation collection from a retired private collector. This Service Mess Dress was among the collection and originally belonged to one incredible man … The story goes that he bought these from a dealer that was specialist [sic] in abandoned / unclaimed storage units.

However, Benny Goodman, who is now 96 and who recently attended the 617 Squadron Association annual dinner, is adamant that this uniform never belonged to him. And he points out that he still has his medals (indeed he wore them at the dinner).
Another piece of clothing is this battledress uniform, which does not appear to have any nametags:

$_57-1$_57-2Although this may be a real Squadron Leader’s Second World War battledress, it would seem to be enhanced by the addition of a 617 Squadron badge on its sleeve. Most experts in RAF militaria would say that it was very unusual for a real pilot to have his squadron crest on his sleeve.
Although there is no claim that this belonged to Benny Goodman, it should be noted that when he finished his tour of operations in 617 Squadron, he was still a Flight Lieutenant. He did not achive the higher rank until his post-war service.
Two more items which did supposedly belong to Benny were these “service wallets”:

$_57First of all, there was no such thing in the wartime RAF as a “service wallet”, for officers or other ranks. Second, Benny also denies having ever owned these. Indeed it is not clear why he would even possess two identical, unused wallets. It should be noted that similar wallets conveniently marked with the initials of 617 Squadron officers have also occasionally surfaced on Ebay.
Apart from the wallets, all the items in the sale would seem to be genuine Second World War material. In some, the value has been enhanced by adding the name of a known veteran to the nametags. The seller may themself not have been involved in this process, but at the very least they should have tried to ascertain whether or not these items definitely belonged to Benny Goodman before making a tidy profit.
Once again, a strict warning should be given to anyone thinking of purchasing similar material on Ebay: be very careful what you buy, and look for direct provenance.

7 thoughts on “617 Squadron uniform sold on Ebay ‘likely to be fake’

  1. Brian May (ex RAF not Queen) June 3, 2016 / 12:03 pm

    Having served as aircrew myself, it’s highly unlikely you’d ever wear anything that identifies your squadron. I have NEVER seen that done on ANY uniform.

    Flying suits slightly different but the battledress top would be for normal everyday wear.

    My uniform is in Doncaster Aviation Museum!!

  2. Nigel Favill June 3, 2016 / 1:43 pm

    Well done Charles ,again another buyer is conned into parting with their hard earned money for fake 617 Squadron memorabilia .

  3. Ian June 3, 2016 / 4:12 pm

    I have the same wallet! was given to me by my mam back in the 1980’s, for my 18th birthday also with the wallet was a dictionary which is done exactly the same and they have my initials I L C stamped on the corner with gold called steel corners.

  4. Mick Tees June 3, 2016 / 5:35 pm

    No ‘Aircrew Europe’ Star,,!?!?

  5. paul mathias June 3, 2016 / 9:30 pm

    That battledress is post-war issue, no wartime RAF battledress had lapels. The design was radically changed after the war and continued throughout the 1950’s onwards. As a long-time collector of flying clothing I have never seen a Squadron badge worn on a sleeve, squadron badges were only usually seen on the white Prestige flying suits from pre-war that some pilots still wore as an indication that they were long-serving and pre-war aircrew. Also it wouldn’t have been allowed for any bomber crew to wear such a badge should they be shot down and taken prisoner.

  6. Graeme Jensen June 3, 2016 / 10:01 pm

    As a regular ebay buyer I hope this seller received the appropriate feedback.

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