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CATERPILLAR BADGE, 1930's
Reproduction of the Caterpillar Badge created by the inventor of the parachute, Leslie Irvin, who started a club to commemorate all airman who have been saved by his invention.
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- The caterpillar with ruby eyes was given to my dad S/L Milton Eardley Jowsey RCAF who was shot down over occupied Holland and parachuted from his Spitfire Feb 22 1945. He evaded capture, covered in leaves overnight, until a member of the Dutch underground guided him with a bicycle across fields. He ended up in the farmhouse attic of another member until Holland was liberated. Our family in Canada has always kept in touch with both of these Dutch underground families-we have visited them and they have visited us. Thank you
.......... Carol Jowsey Johnson, Calgary Canada, 16th of June 2015
- My Dad, RAF Pilot Officer WH Northcott got his for Baling out of a P51 Mustang "somewhere over the Mediterranean" in June 1944, A major engine malfunction was the cause he told me, I have the pin in presentation box plus the card signed by Leslie Irving and photocopies of the supporting paperwork
.......... Tony Northcott, Deal, United Kingdom, 29th of March 2015
- My Husband T/Sgt.Clarence H. Karnopp was top turret gunner/engineer in a B-17 that was shot down over Italy, He was taken prisoner and sent to POW camp Stalag Luft 111 in Germany and liberated by Gen. Patten. He received the Caterpillar pin with ruby eyes (which I was told later meant his plane went down in flames). Thank God He returned hone at the end of WW11 and married and raised 2 sons with his wife Deloris
.......... Deloris Y. Karnopp, Rolla in Rolette county, 1st of March 2013
- my late father Robert Morrow. Service No 657072,he was a POW Stalag 344. No 25629 1941-45,but he escaped (2) when they caught him, he was told if he went again,they would shoot him, He was a Caterpillar Club Member, he was in Bomber Command from 1939-45 when he and the rest of the crew were killed in a Lancaster Bomber over Lincoln,in June 1947 I wrote to the secretary 23.10.12.at The Doric Hotel.Blackpool, but never got a reply ,despite putting my address on the outside envelope,I wanted to know any details about my father, how he came to have this card.and where he had been shot down, my late mother didn't have a pin in her possessions or any information, but she did say he had been mentioned in despatches,but no details.
.......... Robert Morrow Jnr, Northampton, 20th of February 2013
- I have just filled in information on my father William Duffy, I forgot to mention he his nationality, he was Scottish serving in the British Army
.......... Karen Jewitt, UK, 2nd of February 2013
- My dad William Duffy received this badge, during Korean War he was shot down and had to bale out of a burning plane over Korea, he was taken prisoner and held for nearly 2 years. My dads caterpillar has red eyes. He passed away in 2000.
.......... Karen Jewitt, UK, 2nd of February 2013
- My Husband T/Sgt Clarence H. Karnopp was awarded this medal after his plane was shot down. He was a POW in Stalag Luft 111 in Germany for 1 year.
I only learned the meaning of the eye color of the catapillar while touring a POW bus yesterday. Green eyes for damage plane red eyes for a plane that went down in flames. Clarence's caterpillar has red eyes. Clarence returned to His home married and had 2 sons,7grandchildren and 7 Great grandchildren, passing away 2006 at age 85.
.......... Deloris Karnopp, Rolla,North Dakota, 27th of March 2011
- Recipient of Caterpillar Badge: William Ryckman, shot down over Germany, rear gunner on a Lancaster, walked out from behind enemy lines to arrive back in England a week before his wedding to Betty Morrison (English Warbride). They have been married for over 65 years and are still surviving Ont. Canada.
.......... Karen Tarkowski, London On, 10th of December 2010
- The Caterpillar Badge
The Caterpillar is symbolic of the silk worm which lets itself descend gently down to earth from heights by spinning a silk thread upon which to hang. Parachutes in the early days were made from silk.
Thousands of airmen, and a few airwomen, were awarded the tiny Caterpillar Badge, it is their passport to one of the most famous flying clubs in the world- The International Caterpillar Club. The club was started in the early 1920's by Leslie Irvin, inventor of the modern parachute, along with two airmen whose lives were saved by parachutes, it was decided to start the club, all members have had their lives saved by parachute.
Ricky Dyson was one of these airmen, his life was saved twice by parachute. Ricky was awarded the George Medal for helping his surviving crew members when his aircraft crashed just after take-off. The second time Ricky's Lancaster crashed he was the rear gunner, this time he managed to pull the pilot free, but unfortunately he was unable to pull the mid-upper gunner free as he was trapped in his turret. Thanks to Ricky the pilot survived, although he was severely burnt and had to have his leg amputated, years later he would become godfather to Ricky's daughter. We were extremely privileged to have known Ricky and we purchased this Caterpillar Badge in his memory.
More than 13,000 RAF officers and airmen wrote from prison-of war camps during the 2nd World War to apply for their badges.
.......... Rosie Hourihane, Hemel Hempstead, 5th of October 2010