The Uniform of Air Vice Marshal Leslie Cannon

Item #GB2626

Air Vice-Marshal Leslie Cannon RAF Uniform - Includes a jacket, trousers and visor cap. The jacket is a wool blend with the blueish-gray colouring of the RAF and is adorned with the black and Wedgwood blue rank insignia of Air Vice-Marshal on the cuffs. The front has five pockets, one on each breast which have decorative straps giving them a pleated-look plus small brass RAF buttons, maker marked "GAUNT LONDON" on their reverses, each pocket having a flap with a reinforced buttonhole and dual snap closures. There are pockets with flaps and RAF buttons at each side at the waist and an additional smaller pocket between the two right side pockets. Above the left breast pocket are an RAF Pilot's Wings (white and brown embroidery on black wool, padded, giving it a three-dimensional look, 39 mm x 110 mm, worn on the right tip) above three ribbon bars (first: Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Commander; second: Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Commander (Military), Indian General Service Medal 1936-1939 (with bronze MID oak leaf), 1939-1945 Star, Air Crew Europe Star (with silver rosette); third: Defence Medal, War Medal 1939-1945 (with bronze MID oak leaf), Coronation Medal 1953, American Silver Star). The front is completed by a vertical row of four brass RAF buttons on the right side, maker marked "GAUNT LONDON" facing an equal number of reinforced buttonholes on the left. The jacket is single vented at the back and also has two straps sewn in position at the back, supporting a 50 mm wide matching belt, with a brass buckle on the left end and three rows of two holes each for an adjustable fit on the right end. The inside is lined in gray rayon and the sleeves lined in white cotton. There is an additional rayon-lined pocket on the left breast and a strap at the collar for hanging the jacket on a hook, with no markings, the jacket measuring 480 mm across the shoulders x 770 mm in length overall. The acccompaning trousers are also fabricated from the same blueish-gray coloured wool blend as the jacket. They come with a zippered fly and a hook and bar closure above at the waist, ensuring a snug fit. There are a series of six belt loops spaced at intervals around the waist. It has five gray cotton-lined pockets, two on each side at the front with a traditional hip-side entry, one smaller pocket with a top entry overlaying the right pocket and two at the rear, the left one with a reinforced buttonhole and button closure. Inside, there are a series of six plastic buttons spaced at intervals around the waist, one of which is a replacement. The trousers measure 860 mm around the waist x 1,090 mm in length overall, exhibiting staining on the seat and cuffs. Both the jacket and trousers exhibit a nice texture in the fabric and quality workmanship and beautiful stitching. The visor cap in bluish-gray wool, classic high peak and rounded saddle-shaped sides. It has a 45 mm wide black wool band around its circumference, which supports a 50 mm x 66 mm RAF cap badge consisting of a gilt eagle overlaying a gold bullion wreath, the wreath topped by a gold bullion lion on the crown, touches of black and red embroidery in the lion and maroon felt in the crown, all on a black wool base, padded, giving it a three-dimensional look. The visor is vulcanfibre with two rows of gold bullion oak leaves (gold braid, nicknamed "scrambled egg", referred to as an "oak leaf sprig"), a black patent leather chin strap with two sliders resting along the top edge and held in position via black fabric-covered posts on both sides. The underside of the visor is synthetic and finished in bluish-green. The dark tan sweatband is leather, stamped in gold ink with the "BATES Hatter, 21 Jermyn Street, St. JAMES'S, LONDON." label, with the two ends sewn together with a white ribbon, in bow-tie fashion. The dome itself has a brown celluloid liner, with the "BATES Hatter, 21 Jermyn Street, St. JAMES'S, LONDON. LIGHT WEIGHT" label affixed to the dome and visible through the liner. Overall, the cap measures 240 mm x 280 mm x 155 mm in height, with two wear marks along the top edge of the patent leather chin strap. A terrific WWII Air Vice-Marshal's Dress Uniform. Extremely fine.   Footnote: Leslie William Cannon was born on April 9, 1904, the son of Captain W.E. Cannon (Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment) and Cathleen Mary Jackson of Bedford. He was educated at Hertford Grammar School and later, the Royal Air Force College, No. 2 School of Technical Training at Cranwall, joining the RAF as an apprentice "Boy Mechanic" in 1920. He enlisted in the RAF in the second entry of aircraft apprentices, listed as a Flight Cadet with 'A' Squadron, RAF College, Cranwell (1923-1925) and a Flight Cadet Corporal, active in Athletics and Soccer. He later represented the RAF competitively in Athletics, Boxing and Pistol Shooting. He was commissioned as a Pilot in 1925. He is documented as being a Pilot Officer with No. 2 (AC) Squadron RAF, flying a Bristol F2B, beginning on July 30, 1925, until sometime in 1927, as a Pilot with No. 440 (Fleet Spotter Reconnaissance) flying a Fairey IIID/F in January 1927 and as a Flying Officer with No. 441 Flight Fleet Air Arm, China Station in 1927. Cannon returned to No. 2 AC Sqn RAF in 1928, later qualifying as a Flying Instructor at RAF College, Cranwell on May 1, 1929. Later that summer, he attended the Aircraft Engineering Course at the Home Aircraft Depot on August 1st as a Flight Officer (May 14, 1930) and Flight Lieutenant Officer Engineering Course, RAF Station Henlow, remaining there until 1931. While at Henlow, he married Beryl Heyworth in 1930. As a Flight Lieutenant, he was eager to learn more, advancing to an Engineering Officer at RAF Military Transport Depot, Shrewsbury in August 1931 until 1932, when he was take an additional Engineering Course at RAF College, Cranwall in 1932. By 1933, he was ready for overseas action. His next five years were spent in India on various assignments, the first one being that of Engineer Staff Officer, Air Headquarters, India starting on October 12, 1933. Two years later, he went on to more operational duties as Flight Commander, No. 60 Bomber Squadron at Kohat, North West Frontier, India, flying a Wapiti, beginning on November 8, 1935 and for his actions there, he was Mentioned in Despatches. He was promoted to the rank of Squadron Leader in April 1937, when he took over command of No. 5 RAF Squadron, India, again flying Wapitis. He returned to England to become Administration/Personnel Staff Officer at Headquarters, Training Command, RAF on February 23, 1938, then took time as a student, attending the RAF Staff College on January 23, 1939. He was a Staff Officer, Directorate of Operations, Air Ministry (Home) beginning in August 1939, when war was declared by Great Britain the following month. During World War II, Cannon held numerous posts and ranks, including: Staff Officer, Directorate of Operations at the Air Ministry (1939-1940), Wing Commander, Engineer Staff Officer, Headquarters, Bomber Command (May 27, 1940), Chief Technical Officer, Headquarters, No. 21 Operational Training Unit (1941), Group Captain, Instructor Directing Staff Officer, RAF Staff College (March 1, 1942), Officer Commanding, RAF Watton (1942), Officer Commanding Bomber Stations, No. 2 Bomber Group, Bomber Command (1942-1943), Wing Commander (November 20, 1942). He continued to fly on operations as both Officer Commanding, Watton and Assistant Officer Commanding, No. 2 Group, in the latter capacity with both the Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force. He is also listed as Deputy Senior Air Staff Officer, Headquarters No. 83 (Composite) Group (March 19, 1943), Officer Commanding, No. 138 Wing (November 1943), Senior Officer-in-Charge of Administration, Headquarters, No. 2 Group (December 8, 1943) and Air Officer in Charge of Administration, Headquarters, 2 Bomber Group, part of the 2nd Tactical Air Force (United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Germany), taking over from P.E. Maitland beginning on December 24, 1944 until 1946, when he was succeeded by A.L. Paxton. Cannon was Mentioned in Despatches four times during the war years (February 18, 1938; September 24, 1941; January 1, 1945; January 1, 1946) and was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Commander on June 14, 1945. One year to the day that he was awarded his CBE, he was awarded the United States Silver Star for his efforts during the war with the USAAF. Upon the ceasing of hostilities, he was placed as Air Officer Commanding No. 85 Group at Hamburg, Germany in 1946, attaining the rank of Group Captain on October 1, 1946. He attended the Imperial Defence College in January 1947, later becoming Assistant Commandant and Commandant at RAF Staff College, Andover from 1948 to 1949. Cannon saw a promotion to Air Commodore on July 1, 1949, later named Director of Organization (Establishments), Air Ministry on November 30, 1949. His talents were well recognized and after two years, he was named Commander-in-Chief of the Royal Pakistan Air Force on May 7, 1951 and designated in the rank of Acting Air Vice Marshal, eventually attaining the rank of Air Vice-Marshal on January 1, 1953, the first apprentice to achieve air rank. Between rank appointments, he was awarded the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Commander on January 1, 1952. Cannon was preceded at the RPAF by Richard Atcherley. It was noted that "an unaccustomed calm descended upon the Royal Pakistan Air Force with the arrival of Air Vice Marshal L W Cannon to take charge as commander-in-chief of the RPAF. Grapevine intelligence reaching Pakistan ahead of his arrival had it that his strong point was "org & admin" (organization and administration), generating a flurry of activity in Air Headquarters’ offices to bring all files and other paperwork up-to-date, an aspect for which Atcherley had had little time, or no regard for." Soon after his arrival in Karachi at the age of 47, Cannon demonstrated that, while his background may have leaned towards administration, he was no pen pusher. Having discovered that Atcherly had tuned up the flying and operations machinery fairly well, Cannon set about streamlining the administrative support network, by filling potentially dangerous flaws in rules and regulations and by removing organizational anomalies at Air Headquarters and at the bases. Amongst the new measures he implemented, which were to prove of enormous benefit in the years to follow, were the institution of Air Board meetings, the system of officers’ promotion examinations and introduction of special purposes short service commissions. Cannon’s other area of special interest was further augmentation of training facilities in order to make the RPAF less and less dependent on foreign institutions. He brought to completion the project concerning the PAF’s two public schools, and established two new training institutions of a fundamental character: a Flying Instructors School (FIS) and a Ground Instructors School (GIS). He was to remain in the post until 1955, succeeded by Arthur McDonald. Cannon returned to England as Director-General of Organization at the Air Ministry on December 12, 1955, remaining there until November 4, 1958 when he retired from active service. Post-retirement, he joined the Commonwealth Relations Office in 1959, then moved on to become Senior Representative of Rolls Royce Limited, India from 1959 to 1965. He was active in two clubs: the Royal Air Force, Victory Services and Phyllis Court (Henley-on-Thames). Air Marshal Cannon will perhaps best be remembered for his even handed settlement of contentions issues, his mild mannered but surprisingly firm style of command and his dignified approachability in the social context. He died in England on January 27, 1986 and is documented in "Who's Who 1984", page 365.