Parcel unopened for 70 years containing perfectly preserved RAF uniform dating back to World War Two is discovered during house clearance
The old crumpled brown paper bag was tied together with newspaper and string and was recently found during a house clearance in Rolleston-on-Dove, Staffordshire.
The mystery parcel, which had been forgotten for decades, was sent to an auctioneers who were left stunned by what was inside when they unwrapped it.
The package contained an original Second World War airman’s service dress uniform worn by RAF air crew until 1941 and ground-based staff until 1943.
The jacket features a three-blade propeller, understood to be the rank badge for a senior aircraftman, on the sleeve as well as brass King’s crown buttons and belt.
The wartime military uniform is expected to fetch hundreds of pounds when it goes under the hammer at Hansons Auctioneers, in Etwall, Derbys, on September 24.
Owner Charles Hanson said: "It was a little like finding an unopened Christmas present from a forgotten era.
"After discovering the parcel had remained unopened for decades, I was excited to see what lay beneath the layers of waste-not, want-not wrapping.
"Newspapers had a multitude of uses in days gone by. Thanks to them I was soon able to ascertain when the parcel had been wrapped up, right down to the month as well as the year.
"The datelines on the newspapers conveniently revealed the year of publication – 1951. That meant the mystery parcel had remained untouched for 70 years.
"As I gently pulled the wrapping apart, a sizeable chunk of blue material became visible - blue wool serge to be exact.
"I lifted out a garment. Much to my amazement, a blue RAF jacket emerged. Matching trousers were neatly folded up underneath.
“Finds like this are wonderful to uncover. So often, items get tucked away for decades.
"They are only found due to a house move or house clearance. Tucked away by their original owners, they end up under beds, in the back of wardrobes or in dusty attics
"This is a wonderful piece of military history, still in good condition and perfectly wearable.
"Uniforms are popular with militaria collectors and re-enactors."
Pages from the Burton Mail in East Staffordshire, used to wrap the item, were dated November 20, 1951 while a national paper was dated November 22, 1951.
Charles added: “It was also interesting to cast my eyes over those old newspapers.
"They revealed much about UK life in 1951 – and demonstrated how much times have changed.”
The Burton Mail’s small ads were full of pianos for sale, dancing classes and affordable transport, such as a Velocette motorbike for £59.
They also included sexist job adverts such as "Girls leaving school are required for bakery work" or "Local bank requires Lady Clerk".
Another advert asked, ‘Have you an only-time-for-toast husband?’ It urged wives to fortify their husband with Procea bread containing wheat protein.
Meanwhile, another national article was headlined ‘What the boss looks for in the ideal secretary’.
Under "Appearance" one company director said, "she does not have scarlet talons in the office". Meanwhile "Talents" included "knows what biscuits we will not eat with our tea".
One story to make front page news was headlined "Man of 80 argued over twin beds".
It involved an 80-year-old newlywed man who refused to consider separate rooms or beds so his 50-year-old bride, Ethel, left him.
Charles said: “We’ve come a long way in the last 70 years. It’s fascinating to look at old newspapers, so often found in attics or even under old carpets.
"They provide a valuable social history lesson.”