Offered here is a very attractive WWII USAAF A-2 flight jacket by Rough Wear Clothing Co. (size 44) worn by an unnamed member of the 319th Troop Carrier Squadron, Glider Section, 1st Air Commandos. Sewn to the left chest is a wonderful embroidered 1st Air Commandos patch. This patch is one of the more humorous insignias from WWII as it features a smiling mule with wings for ears superimposed on a number one for 1st Air Commandos, all surrounded by the letter “G” for glider. Between the mule’s teeth is a kukri that signifies solidarity with the Chindits (British and Indian army special operation units), and the top of the number one is the profile of a woman’s breast. The jacket also features a multi-piece leather CBI patch on left shoulder, a hand embroidered on velvet AAF patch on the right shoulder, large multi-piece leather American flag on the back, and Talon zipper. The jacket is pictured and identified in Maguire and Conway’s “American Flight Jackets, Airmen & Aircraft: A History of U.S. Flyers’ Jackets from World War II to Desert Storm” (2nd edition) on pages 65 and 79. Complete with a long sleeve service shirt and officer's "crusher" cap by Dobbs. The shirt features embroidered insignias, most likely theater made: wings on left chest, CBI patch on left shoulder, AAF patch on right shoulder, and AAF officer’s insignia on left lapel. Rank lapel insignia have since been removed (outline suggest 1st or 2nd lieutenant bar). Operating in the China-Burma-India Theater starting in late 1944, the 319th Troop Carrier Squadron provided airlift support to commando units, such as Merrill’s Marauders and the Chindits, and conducted parachute drops and glider operations in Burma, China and French Indochina. This jacket would have been worn by a glider pilot taking part in 1st Air Commando Group operations. These glider pilots were among the first Americans to infiltrate the jungles of Japanese occupied Burma under Operation Thursday in 1944. The initial phase of Operation Thursday sent glider troops behind Japanese lines. The operation was a rousing success, best summarized by a defeated Japanese general: “The penetration of the airborne force into Northern Burma caused the failure of the Army plan to complete the Imphal Operations....The airborne raiding force...eventually became one of the reasons for the total abandonment of Northern Burma.” After VJ-Day the 319th Troop Carrier Squadron operated in China until October 1945. The squadron was later re-activated to support early counterinsurgency operations in Southeast Asia from 1962 to 1965. Its lineage traces to the 319th Special Operations Squadron that continues to provide in theater support for special operations. The origins of today’s special forces trace back to World War II commando units such as Merrill’s Marauders. Merrill's Marauders were deployed with the Chindits as a long-range penetration force behind the Japanese lines, and it was the mission of the 319th Troop Carrier Squadron to ensure these troops were resupplied, a vital but often over looked operation in the history books. The Marauders gained fame for their capture of the village of Myitkyina, Burma in 1944 and for their subsequent operations against superior Japanese forces. Provenance: The Putnam Green/Sycamore Collection
The A-2 jacket is very good, with most of the lining remaining, and some scattered wear and few repairs to the cuffs and waist band showing. The AAF patch is fair; otherwise, the patches are fine. The cap is fair. The shirt is good with staining. A very attractive WWII A-2 jacket linked to early U.S. special operations.
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