Wound Stripes and the Thackway Crash

The Thackway crew crash, referred to in our post just now (28 May 2019), has a tiny echo in the uniform of the moth-eaten bear, known as Bobby Bear, who until recently was on display in the Black Thursday cabinet at the Heritage Centre, RAF Wyton (see the end of this post). The RAF uniform which the bear wears has a wound stripe – see the little flash of yellow on the sleeve in the image below.

The wound stripe, which was an unusual emblem on RAF uniforms, reflects the serious injuries suffered by the owner of the bear, Joe Mack of the Thackway crew, on the night of the crash, 17 December 1943. The uniform, which is a toy approximation of Joe’s uniform, was made for the bear by Joe’s mother, Kathleen, some time before 1948.


Flight Sergeant W C Higgs’s uniform with wound stripes – on display at the Pathfinder Collection, Heritage Centre, RAF Wyton

flight sergeant W C HIggs - wound stripes

In the online Auckland Museum, there is a photograph of George Cotton-Stapleton, RNZAF, with two wound stripes on his sleeve (Auckland Museum ref: WWI 4/213A AWMM)

George Cotton-Stapleton, RNZAF, wound stripes

Bobby Bear has now left the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton for the time being as he has been selected for the BBC programme The Repair Shop, on which expert craftsmen pool their talents and resources to restore heirlooms and treasured antiques. Filming on Bobby Bear’s rejuvenation starts this week.

Hopefully he will be back at the Pathfinder Collection at RAF Wyton early next year. We will keep you up to date with what happens with Bobby Bear and the programme.

See: Update, 15 November 2019

(Below, Bobby Bear, beneath the photograph of Ernest Deverill, at RAF Wyton last year.)