The Caterpillar Club

The Caterpillar Club was open to all aircrew whose lives had been saved by a parachute made of silk. It was run by Irvin Air Chutes of Great Britain, who made the parachutes.

The badge and card on this page were awarded to John Arthurson of the Smith crew; he was one of fourteen 97 Squadron aircrew whose lives were saved by parachute on 16/17 December 1943, ‘Black Thursday’, when they abandoned their Lancasters due to the dense fog making landing extremely dangerous. The other crew which made the same decision was that of Robert Mooney. These two crews all survived when so many other crews died that night, having decided to stick with their aircraft.

Flight Lieutenant Hind, the Squadron Adjutant, applied for membership of the Caterpillar Club on behalf of the Smith and Mooney crews. See his letter below, written on 23 December 1943.  (As is quite common, he misspelled Irvin as Irving).

Sadly by the time the pins and certificates arrived at RAF Station Bourn, the seven members of the Mooney crew were dead, having been shot down at the beginning of January 1944.