It is in fantastic shape. How could I leave without it? It looked virtually unworn: no moth holes, no pilling, all the buttons are intact and the lining is in pristine condition.
The epaulettes are still sharp, with both buttons still firmly intact.
Condition aside, what really sparked my interests were the labels on the interior. All of the labels indicated that the coat was made in England, even though it was clearly for the American Red Cross. It seemed sort of strange – an American Red Cross coat, made in England?
On the true left side, the label reads “cloth made by Crombie of Aberdeen. Air Ministry Standard”. Crombie was founded in 1805 in Scotland, and began producing luxury woolen cloth and suppling it to tailors. Crombie began a gradual expansion, providing cloth to England and France. By the 1860s, Crombie began manufacturing coats under its own label. It was also during the 1860s that Crombie began securing military contracts. The company had contracts with the Confederate Army during the American Civil war, and supplied officers’ uniforms to the British Army and Royal Air Force during both World Wars. During World War II, Crombie also produced overcoats for the US army.
Crombie did not, however, manufacture coats for the American Red Cross. As another label in the coat indicates, Debenham & Freebody of London made this coat.
Debenham & Freebody is a traditional British department store. It originated as a draper’s business, founded in 1778 in London. It became a full-fledged department store in 1905.
Debenham & Freebody made uniforms for the Red Cross during WWII. The Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project has a two piece uniform with the Debenham & Freebody label.
The coat I have also has the original owner’s name written on twill take and hand-stitched in. Unfortunately, it is illegible. If you are interested in buying this coat, I’ve listed it on eBay.
Read more about Crombie here.GHTime Code(s): nc