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CATERPILLAR CLUB , GOLDFISH CLUB , SEA SQUATTERS CLUB


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I thought I would start a thread devoted to those who hit the silk or had to swim hard after landing in the water !

 

The Caterpillar Club , Goldfish Club , and the Sea Squatters Club were devoted to recognizing those left an aircraft in distress regardless of the reason. Not all members hit the silk due to enemy action. A good portion of them however, were POWs!

 

Starting first are some Caterpillar Club items in my collection!

 

The first is an Irving pin awarded to a POW in Stalag 17B . He received the card while he was still in the POW camp, but did not get the pin until back in the USA.

 

Note the German " Gepruft " ( censor ) mark on the envelope!

 

 

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!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Another Irving pin awarded to a POW in Stalag 17B with his POW dogatg.

 

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!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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An Irving Caterpillar Club card awarded to another POW from Stalag 17B.

 

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!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Switlik Caterpillar Club Card , Certificate , and acceptance letter to a POW from Stalag Luft III.

 

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!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Another Switlick certificate to another Stalag Luft III POW.

 

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!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Goldfish Club and Sea Squatters cards to the same Naval Aviator. I do not have any pins!!!

 

The Sea Squatters Club was sponsered by Walter Kidde & Company INC. They made carbon dioxide inflation equipment for rafts.

 

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!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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This is the last item I have. It is very unusual and I do not know its background, however I have seen a few more of these.

 

It is an aluminum plaque with a parachute D-ring named to a 15th AAF crewman who had to bail out and was a POW. Notice the time and place are noted on the tag.

 

I have seen tags like the one attached this item on WWII equipment and on the inside of WWII submarines , so it may be from the 40's or 50's .

 

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If you have any items in your collections.. please post em here!!!!!!!!

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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I have not seen a modern version of the Caterpiller Club pin, but I recently learned of a newer tradition for pilots who have had to eject.

 

At a nearby garage sale, I saw what looked like a seat from an aircraft stuck away in the corner. When I spoke to the owner he told me that it was indeed from an A-7 and that it was his. He was at Red Flag in the 1980s,had an aircraft malfunction and punched out.

 

According to him ,it is (was?) a tradition of those who eject to keep the seat from their aircraft. So sitting in his garage was the seat and the parachute.

 

He wasn't interested in selling it, but by the look in his wife's eyes, you could see that she was!

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" We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm. "

View my website honoring the men and women of Indiana: http://indianavets.wix.com/indiana-at-war and follow my updates on Facebook! https://www.facebook.com/IndianaModernAgeofWar/
Interested in US uniforms? Join the Association of American Military Uniform Collectors! http://aamuc.org/or find us on Facebook! facebook.com/AAMUC.ORG

 

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Thanks guys! I think my wife would not be happy if I bought an ejection seat, but it might work well as a "gaming chair " in front of the X-Box though thumbsup.gif

 

 

If any one has examples of an early gold named Irvin pin or an enameled Switlik caterpillar pin please post em! That goes for GOLDFISH CLUB and SEA SQUATTERS CLUB pins too.

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Here's the patch on an English made Ike jacket. Have come across two jacket with this patch in over twenty yrs. of collecting.


Nice Goldfish Club patch Louie! I should correct my earlier statement about wanting to see one of these " Pins " . This clubs insignia was the patch you pictured.

The Sea Squatters pins I have seen are a " Gold Duck " with a screw back post on the back.

They look like this ( this one is a repo )

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Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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Kurt...I only have one POW/Caterpillar group left in my collection. It's from an old friend named Bill Hess who was an 18 year old B-17 waist gunner in the 97th BG, 15th AF who went down to flak on Sept 13, 1944 over Poland. He was at Luft IV in Pomerania. He was on the 52-day forced march from there to the West and was finally liberated on April 16, 1945 by the Brits at Stalag XI B. Everything is in a scrap book and includes both personal and stock AAF pictures and magazine stories plus his MIA telegram, POW telegram, Kriegie letters, his old Luftwaffe bread knife, a kriegie cigarette lighter, the AG wing he was wearing when shot down and carried throughout captivity - (the Germans neaver gave it any attention), a wrap brooch Air Medal un-named with issue letter from May 1945, a named PH(official hand engraved) w/ Nov 1945 transmittal letter, etc. etc. Adding pics of Lager Tag, Cat.Pin Wings and him just after Discharge in 1945 wearing the Cat Pin just below his wings. Bill has been an aviation historian and has published many WW2 Aviation history books. Semper Fi....Bob

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Bill Hess POW

 

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Pic of Bill Hess 18 year old B-17 Gunner, P.O.W. Aviation Historian & Author and long time good buddy of mine!

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Bob

 

Thanks for posting Bill's group! I have a number of his books in my library thumbsup.gif I bet he has some great stories .

 

I love the photo of him wearing the Switlik style pin.

 

I also have not been able to find a Stalag tag from Luft IV .

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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A short story about being helped by a ' Caterpillar ' veteran, sorry I don't really have any items to add to the thread.

 

Back in 1979 I bought a 1940 closed cab American manufactured GMC 6 x 6 troop carrier, which had just been released from the French army. I had it shipped into a port on the south coast of England, I was told it was in running order with just a few little jobs to make it totally correct. The law at that time stated that when you import a vehicle into the country, it is perfectly legal to drive it to your place of residence in the condition it is in, without number plates ( tag plates ) and without a test certificate, ( but with insurance ) the other things you must do once it is in the country and before using on the road.

 

Anyway I had driven this thing for three hours and around two hundred miles towards my house, three miles from home I was pulled over by a police officer in a patrol car. He wanted to check it over, and I said I had just imported it and have the paperwork entitling me to drive it from port of entry to my home. He was quite aggressive, and said he was not interested in seeing the paperwork and appeared only interested in booking me for something. Well it happened that one of the rear side lights didn't work, which wasn't totally an offence at that date and certainly not during daylight hours. He forced me to park up the vehicle and not to move it until the I could fix the light the following day, so in the hours of darkness I was forced to park-up on the side of a freeway, a dark vehicle sat stationary in the dark, for which I couldn't understand his reasoning. He also stated that he would be checking it over nite and if I had moved then that was a further offence

 

I was booked and charged to appear at court, when I did the clerk of the court came over to check my name against the list. When he spoke to me I recognised this little squiggle on his necktie as being a Caterpillar motif, and I asked him if that was what it was. He was surprised and asked how a ' young' feller of my age would know about the ' Caterpillar' club. we had a great chat and he told me about his experiences in the RAF, and the Caterpillar club. I explained that I collected WWII militaria and the only reason I was in court was for a failed light on a forty year old military vehicle. He was surprised at the attitude of the patrol officer, and said that he would have a word with the magistrates and explain the circumstances.

 

Well the upshot of it all was, when I got into court and the magistrates questioned me, and saw that I legally should have been able to drive the vehicle home. Also I showed them the forty year old American 6 volt sealed beam military light-bulb, and explained there was no garage in England that I could walk into and replace off the shelf, and could only do so with stocks I had at home.

 

It was thrown out, having wasted six months of every-ones time. possibly not really relevant to this thread but a great veteran. So my thanks go to that Caterpillar veteran, and his thanks went to me for helping to keep these veterans history alive with the collecting and owning of all this mititaria stuff. I still wonder even today what sort of 'tick' this patrol officer had up his butt.

 

Cheers ( Lewis )

.

Young enough to care and enjoy militaria - Old enough to remember as surplus

 

" Life's too short for reproductions "

 

 

Life is like a tank of gas, the closer you get to a quarter tank, the faster it goes 

 

.

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The Sea Squatters pins I have seen are a " Gold Duck " with a clutch on the back.

 

They look like this ( this one is a repo )

 

 

Kurt

Kurt, I think there were other sponsers of the sea squatters club, we know of Walter Kidde foresure.I have a period article talking about the sea aquatters club, does not mention the sponser though mentions thier address, it states that the gold pin is a man in a raft.there were many companies that made rubber rafts so it could be any one of those or a multiple of.I really have not researched it indepth what i know is just what I have ran acrossAnother lesser known club is the " order of the gibson girl" a club for survivors that were rescued by use of this radio set.

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The Sea Squatters pins I have seen are a " Gold Duck " with a clutch on the back.

 

They look like this ( this one is a repo )

Kurt

 

Kurt, I think there were other sponsers of the sea squatters club, we know of Walter Kidde foresure.I have a period article talking about the sea aquatters club, does not mention the sponser though mentions thier address, it states that the gold pin is a man in a raft.there were many companies that made rubber rafts so it could be any one of those or a multiple of.I really have not researched it indepth what i know is just what I have ran acrossAnother lesser known club is the " order of the gibson girl" a club for survivors that were rescued by use of this radio set.

 

I would sure love to see one of the " man in the raft" pins . I have only seen the "duck " ones so far.

 

Have you seen anything from the Gibson Girl club?

 

Kurt

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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I just nabbed another Caterpillar Club certificate on " E-Cheap " tonight :)

The owner of this document was a POW shot down on 6/17/44 over France while serving as a gunner with the 306th BG , 8th AAF. He must have been injured badly as he was repatriated in October 1944 back to the USA.

I love the tinted photo.


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12/2/2011 NOTE******

I have sold these documents from Warren E. Kerr . I have seen this group for sale on Ebay completly decked out with medals and a Caterpillar Club pin..... It didnt have them when I sold the documents!!!!

!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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  • 1 year later...

I figured this was worthy of addition to this " old " thread. It is a goldfish club patch sewn to the sleeve of a 12th AF fighter pilots uniform.

 

Kurt

 

 

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!!!! WANTED !!!!

WWII Prisoner of War items : Medals, Mail, Diaries, Photos, Documents, Scrapbooks + More

WWII Naval Aviation Groupings : Medals, Documents, Scrapbooks, Photos, Flight Logs, Flight Jackets + More

 


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This is from a 91st BG B-17 pilot who ditched in February, 1994 in the North Sea and was rescued by a British Rescue Boat. I have documented the story in detail and it is in the book, "DINGHY DROP: 279 Squadron RAF 1941 - 46" by Tom Docherty. The pilot became a pal of mine in the 90s and he kept almost everything and gave it to me because nobody in his family wanted it (you've heard that kind of story before, I'll bet). He passed in 1999.
This is a photo of him wearing his goldfish patch under the collar, sitting in a Jeep in England in the spring of 44:

 

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Here's that same patch today in my collection (I also have the same embroidered wings in that photo too):

 

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And the card that came with it:

 

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Lee Bishop Formerly known as "Ratchet 5" with the 2nd Infantry Division (yes, in REAL life)

US WW2 War Correspondent collector

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  • 5 months later...
A Caterpillar club variation in bullion.

 

Rob

 

 

Rob,

Do you have any info as the origin of this type of Caterpillar club patch? I have the exact same one, came with a guy's grouping who was ETO so I'm going to assume English made?

 

Tim

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