"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
 
     RAAF Boots
                  
Certainly not an issue item, and probably only worn by a select few, the private purchase flying boots pictured at right (and above on a VMF-112 pilot), Australian made copies of the RAF's pattern 1936, were quite a distinctive item of flight gear among Naval Aviators in the PTO.   
Made by Bedggood of Melbourne, this example appears to have been produced for the commercial market rather than the RAAF, as they are devoid of Air Ministry markings.
VMF-214, while out of the action at Turtle Bay in September of 1943, poses for some publicity photos. In these frequently published scenes, Bill Case (at left in both) can be seen wearing his 1936 pattern boots. As shown below, the boots have leather soles and Dunlop rubber heals.
Case wasn't the only Black Sheep who fancied these boots.
The following excerpt is from the excellent book "The Black Sheep" by Bruce Gamble. It tells of the experiences of William "Junior" Heier after his Corsair skimmed a palm tree and was then hit by AAA fire while strafing the Japanese airfield at Kahili. Slightly wounded and with a fatally damaged engine bleeding oil, "Junior" limped along toward Vella Lavella until his Pratt & Whitney gave up the ghost. Bailing out, he landed in the water, took to his raft and was quickly picked up by some Seabees in a captured Japanese barge. Gamble relates:
"Somewhere during the process of jumping and swimming, Heier lost one of his prized wool-lined Australian flying boots. When he discovered this, he heaved its companion into the sea in disgust. Later, he discovered the first missing boot in shallow water, but by then the second one had disappeared. The cost of Heier's Corsair (and his boots) was deemed affordable after photos brought back by a reconnaissance flight showed more than a dozen Japanese planes burned on the ground."
As witnessed by this photo of Mel "Kurly" Kurlander of VF-17, Marine pilots weren't the only ones to take a shine to this rakish item of footwear.
After reading our article, Greg Pons sent us this photo of VMF-222 pilots, one of whom also participated in this fashion trend. Thanks Greg!
Left to right : (rear) James Walley, Virgil Teeter, (front) "Pappy" Reid, Henry Huidekoper. (Greg Pons Collection)