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This posting is a little late as it somewhat relates to Phil Dellinger’s informative posting on Wristlets in October, and also to Jim Hester’s excellent work on Mark V Watch codes.
I recently received an interesting addition to my collection of RAF Timepieces from the UK.
It consists of a high quality leather Wristlet together with a Zenith Mark V Watch (The Code of the watch has already been included in your Mark V listing Jim) and a Sterling Silver ID Bracelet. The ID Bracelet has a London Hallmark on the back and is engraved as follows:
C.T.Cyster, 80382, R.F.C. Camisano. 1917-1918.
(There is a Camisano in Northern Italy, not far from Milan, so he could have been stationed there.)
It is noteworthy that the engraving includes a serial number but no rank.
I have no proof that the three items are in any way connected, but of course they were sold as such.
However I do feel that an enlisted man in the RFC (aka ‘an Erk’) would have been unlikely to own a Sterling Silver ID Bracelet in those days, and that possession of a Wristlet to hold a Mark V Watch would only have been necessary for an aviator.
I have been unable to find any information about C.T.Cyster of the RFC on the Internet, as it seems it can only be done by a physical search of those personnel records still available in the UK. (Many RFC records were destroyed by bombing during W.W.II) and I have no plans for a return there in the very near future. However, if I do eventually manage to obtain information on the owner of the bracelet, it may answer some of the questions I have.
Congratulations on the additions to your collection, and thanks for the excellent pictures. The wristlet is well made and in excellent condition. I also like the ID bracelet.
The dial of your MK V is a great find. The marking, “G.S. Type” on the dial appears to have been added to the watch at some point after WWI. It is not a marking I have seen before. The designation, “G.S.” stands for “General Service” Starting in the 1930's the British Army used the designation “G.S.MK I” and “G.S. MK II” to indicate General Service pocket watch grades. My best guess is that your MK V timepiece remained in British Military Stores after WWI. At some point, maybe in the 1930's, it was repaired and had a bow added for re-issue as a “General Service Type” pocket watch.
It is not unusual to find WWI and even pre-WWI British revolvers and rifles which were rebuilt in the 1920's and 1930's. It would appear that military timepieces were also rebuilt as part of the same post-WWI repair program.
Many thanks for your comments Greg, You have increased my knowledge, and added several new dimensions to the watch which I had not considered.
By the way, I did not mention that the watch, unlike the majority of Mk V's, is luminous. As I am sure you know, several sources mention that luminous watches were not popular for aircraft use, as the vibration tended to loosen the luminous material which found it's way into the movement.
Again, many thanks for your valued information.
Ben, you are most welcome. I did not notice that the watch was a Luminous MK V. I have been informed that the luminous models were for night flying. It was extremely hazardous to fly at night back then. But it was necessary to send up night fighters to shoot down German Zeppelins. These silent airships occasionally bombed London during the first world war. Zeppelins were also hazardous for the Germans who piloted them due to the highly volatile gases used to keep them aloft. A single tracer bullet could turn an entire Zeppelin into a ball of fire.
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