Woman in uniform

The photo is dated 1920. Quality isn't brilliant, but we need the uniform information for the family tree. The lady would have been 22 in 1920. Birthplace was London. Nationality: British. Traveled extensively later so we thought she may have been in the forces. Settled in Australia.

The writing at the bottom is sending the photo from Grace (lady in photo) with best wishes to her sister Lizzie. 1920. Full name is GRACE HALL. Do not confuse with famous American woman pilot.

Photo taken in the Daniels Studio, 38 Tachbrook Street, Westminster.

Probably too early, 1920, for a lady pilot in the UK but likely to be for a motorcycle.

For the visually impaired or thing like search engines, I am going to try to describe what we visually see:

  • black and white photo, which has been identified by the querent as from the 1920 time frame
  • it is a portrait of a young lady, appearing to be late teens or early twenties in age, with short, dark, curly hair falling a few inches above the neckline in a 'bob' cut
  • the picture has been cropped to show the person from the upper abdomen/lower chest and up, at a slight left angle
  • the person is wearing what appears to be a wool overcoat, of a style reminiscent of English military (flight or motorcycle corps), collar is fur-lined, coat appears to button up in the female, or right hand over left fashion
  • person is wearing a brimmed hat, which appears to match the style worn by members of the British WAAF forces
  • the cap has an RFC, or Royal Flying Corp badge sewn to the peak
  • around the cap, the person has what appears to be a WWI-style fur-lined aviator's goggles
  • the person is wearing a white, or very light colored button-down shirt, with a black, or dark-colored tie, and a tie-tack, holding the collar closed under the tie's knot
  • finally, there is something in the over-coat's outer left breast pocket, but it is too blurry to make out any details
  • 1
    Good point. I have edited it with photo but seem to have a problem.
    – Alan
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 15:46
  • 1
    Do you have other biographical facts about the young lady? Birthplace? Nationality? Residence and locations known/suspected to be visited in or just prior to 1920? All of that helps to narrow the serach. Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 15:50
  • 2
    There appears to be some writing in the lower left, but it is cut off. Can you tell us what is says, or better, provide the full image? Also is there anything on the back? Watermark even? Lastly, lovely, a treasure!
    – AllInOne
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 15:57
  • 3
    @Alan - please don't reply in comments - update the question with all the information you know. The probability that a question will be answered drops if you have to read the question and all the comments. Edit the question, then flag the comment for deletion. I've moved both of your comments into the question and I'll delete the relevant comments.
    – MCW
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 16:02
  • 2
    @T.E.D. Actually, the first female, licensed pilot in Britain was in on August 29th 1911. Her name was Hilda Hewlett. She also opened up a flight school and her son was the first military pilot to be taught to fly by his mother.
    – EvanM
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:20

1 Answer 1


Found it. This is an RFC or Royal Flying Corp cap badge. I thought the picture was showing BBS but it's not. The angle, the quality of the picture and the loop for securing it to the bonnet was throwing me off. The women of the WAAC were often given the RFC badge when attached to airbases. These women were given the opportunity to travel to air bases in France and Germany. I'd also suspect other parts of the world where war time operations were funneled from. These women preformed non-combatant tasks such as typing, and factory/mechanical work; they also had tasks in cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.

enter image description here

This corps was formed in 1912.

Here is a woman from the WAAC. You will notice that while you can't read the cap badge that the undershirt and tie match the picture. So does the coat with the exception of the added fur lining. The second picture has the same coat.

enter image description here enter image description here

Here is a picture of a woman who has similar goggles on sitting on a motorcycle with Royal Flying Corps badge on her shoulder. This leads me to believe she either transported mail or lightweight goods around bases.

enter image description here

Here is some more information: On July 7, 1917, British Army Council Instruction Number 1069 formally establishes the British Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps (WAAC), authorizing female volunteers to serve alongside their male counterparts in France during World War I.

The Foundation of the RFC

This link shows that WAAC worked very closely with the RFC. They even traveled to Germany and France to assist on air bases Women of the RFC

More info on the WAAC

  • 5
    Predecessor to the RAF! But judging from the size of both headgear and coat - everything would seem a little on the large side for her. Could the whole kit be that of her boyfriend?
    – WS2
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 18:43
  • 3
    More than likely. I can't find a single reference to a woman pilot in the RFC. In fact, it wasn't until 1939, after Poland was invaded that the British allowed female pilots in any branch. At that time though they were only allowed to fly 'non-combat' missions. Delivering equipment, mail, etc. It seems, based off my research that the first combat, female pilot for the Brits wasn't until 1991.
    – EvanM
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 19:36
  • 8
    @MichaelHarvey No.
    – pipe
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 9:20
  • 3
    @MichaelHarvey I grant you that it looks like BBS but it's not. What's throwing you off is the angle, the quality of the photo and the loop behind the emblem to secure it. This is definitely a RFC badge. I was doing more research last night and like Showsni said, she was probably WAAC. This could account for some travel too. history.com/this-day-in-history/…
    – EvanM
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 12:15
  • 6
    Contrary to my earlier comment that it might have been her boyfriend's kit, I notice that her coat is buttoned right over left, the conventional feminine way of dress. Men buttoned left over right - in the same way that men wore a buttonhole in the left lapel, women in the right. It doesn't mean it was not her boyfriend's. The coat may have been buttonable both ways - and she automatically did it the girl's way. But the figures in the other pictures also seem to be wearing excessively large-fitting coats.
    – WS2
    Commented Apr 6, 2021 at 18:00

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