Issue: CC109
27th February 2023

Undesirable clubs

Were you lucky or unlucky to join?

All artwork by CC

WW2 saw the creation of a number of clubs that no airman would have chosen to join, but given a certain set of circumstances they’d be glad they did gain membership.

Here are a few of those clubs.

The Caterpillar club – founded 1922

The first club was actually prior to WW2, with Leslie Irvin (inventor of the Irvin parachute) pledging to give each man saved by his parachute a gold badge and membership card. Swatik Parachute Company founded their own version, with a black and silver badge. The caterpillar represents the silk threads that made the parachutes, but also the escape from its cocoon.

GQ Gold Wings Club – founded 1940

For those whose lives were saved by a parachute made by the GQ Parachute Company.

Roo Club – founded 1940

For Australians whose lives were saved by a Dominian parachute made by Light Aircraft Pty.

Sitting Duck Club

For Civil Air Patrol airmen downed at sea.

Sea Squatters Club

For airmen who ditched at sea, their lives saved by a rubber dingy made by Walter Kidde and Company (NY).

Goldfish Club – founded 1942

For airmen who ditched at sea, their lives saved by a rubber dingy made by P. B. Cow and Co. (London).

Late Arrivals Club – founded 1941

aka Winged Boot Club or Flying Boot Club
For RAF airmen who were downed across enemy lines in the Western Desert Campaign and made their way back to safety.

Guinea Pig Club – founded 1941

For airmen with severe burns who were treated by Sir Archibald McIndoe at Queen Victoria’s Hospital in East Grinstead.