My father was a navigator on Lancaster Bombers during WW11 … he volunteered when he was 20 years old, leaving his job as a naval architect. On the night of 29th December 1943 his aircraft was shot down over Berlin … he parachuted to safety but was detained by Germans and became a P.O.W. till the end of the war. Having saved his life using a parachute he became a member of the Caterpillar Club. So for the history part … In the early days parachutes were made from pure silk by the Irvin Air Chute Company which originated in Dayton, Ohio sometime between 1921 and 1922. 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 WW11 production of the parachutes at the factory in Letchworth, England, reached a peak of nearly 1,500 per week. By late 1945 there were 34,000 members of the club.
So my father became a member of a club for which there is only one way to join and a way that appeals to few!
The original caterpillars are barely an inch long are gold and have red glass eyes AND I found out today during research that the original ones have the recipients name engraved on the back – so out came the magnifying glass – and there it was Sgt. A Fletcher.
I also have a letter which my grandmother received dated 30th December – I can’t imagine how she felt receiving it – it was a very kind letter but everything is in the past tense implying that he didnt make it out … and the rest IS history.