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Author Topic: The Caterpillar club of World War 2  (Read 7199 times)

Offline AVIATOR

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The Caterpillar club of World War 2
« on: October 27, 2009, 07:33:31 AM »
HITTING THE SILK

The Caterpillar Club was originated at Dayton, Ohio between October 20, 1922 and November 11, 1922 by Messrs Hutton, Verne Timmerman, J. Mumma  and Milton H. St. Clair.  This world-wide club is for aviators, military and commercial, who have saved their lives with a parachute in an emergency.

During the height of World War II, production of parachutes at the Irving Air Chute Company factory in Letchworth, England, reached a peak of nearly 1,500 parachutes per week. The world famed Caterpillar Club, named after the silk worm (caterpillar) that spins the silk from which parachutes were made, gained thousands of members during World War II. By late 1945, there were 34,000 members of the Caterpillar Club. The only requirement for membership in the select club is that the applicant must have bailed out under emergency conditions, and furnished written confirmation from witnesses, such as commanding officers or adjutants, that the jump was a genuine emergency bail out.

Among the many Caterpillars who carry or carried Caterpillar Club membership cards are former President George Bush, General Doolittle, and Colonel Lindbergh, to name a few.

The picture below was taken of Flying Officer Higgs RAF, bailing out of his Hurricane in 1940.
It shows Higgs himself and the severed wing of his Hurricane.
This dramatic picture was allegedly taken by a member of the German Do-17 bomber crew who shot him down.

FO Higgs had his life saved that day by his parachute and subsequently became a member of the Caterpillar Club.
 
« Last Edit: October 27, 2009, 10:35:07 AM by AVIATOR »

Offline Gripen

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Re: The Caterpillar club of World War 2
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2009, 01:35:46 PM »
Is it still going?

Offline AVIATOR

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Re: The Caterpillar club of World War 2
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2009, 11:32:09 PM »
Is it still going?

Well I have searched for sometime this morning to see if I could find the most recent people who became members after being shot down. The best I have come up with is 1966. see the article.

http://www.veterantributes.org/TributeDetail.asp?ID=401

They say that out of over 100000 aircrew who became members, only about 4000 are still alive today. Although there are still WW2 vets around, I would say that most of those would be from the Vietnam war and some from the Korean war.
I can only assume that the Caterpillar Club still makes the award even today but I can't find anything on it.

 



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