Skip to comments.Novelty Toy Saved WWII Paratroopers Lives
Posted on 05/28/2010 3:10:16 AM PDT by Daffynition
TAMPA, Fla. (June 3) - Capt. Sam Gibbons knew his mission was in trouble when he hit the ground in the early hours of the D-Day invasion 63 years ago. The future congressman's 101st Airborne troops were scattered far from their intended drop zone. And the only nearby soldiers he could see where German.
"People are always talking about behind enemy lines. Hell, there ain't no lines in combat," said Gibbons, who was 24 when he parachuted into Normandy on June 6, 1944. "We jumped right on top of the Germans."
On the ground, in the dark, the scattered American soldiers relied on a children's' novelty toy to sort things out.
Gibbons, now 87 and retired after serving 17 consecutive terms in Congress , is one of the few Operation Overlord paratroopers who held onto his military-issued "cricket," a brass and steel version of the cheap tin prize from a 1930s Cracker Jack box. The soldiers called the signaling devices "crickets" because of the sharp "crick" sound it made when pressed.
The crickets were lifesavers for American paratroopers scattered in the dark on a morning when using a flashlight to check a map or shouting in English meant instant death.
"The cricket was a stroke of genius," said Michael Gannon, a retired University of Florida history professor. "How else would you know who you bumped into in the dark? If you came across somebody, you clicked. If he responded in kind, you were friends. If he didn't, you shot him."
Gibbons landed in a pasture at 1:26 a.m. A group of Germans less than a football field away were firing furiously at the sky full of planes and parachutes and didn't see him. It took him half an hour to crawl out of the pasture.
(Excerpt) Read more at sci.rutgers.edu ...
In the hands of the nuns, they would have us standing up and sitting down in seconds.
I remember reading accounts of it in Stephen Ambrose's, Band of Brothers.
Have a blessed Memorial Day weekend. Our class again has the commemoration today for our school. They are excited!
Have a blessed Memorial Day.
In the movie The Longest Day a German Mausers bolt being cycled made the same sound..... Albeit a movie it was interestng to ponder....
LOL ... You too? I spent 12 years of my life reacting to “The Clicker!”
I’ve not had enough coffee to think about that! LOL
Have a great Holiday yourself!
Thanks for bringing that to mind.
From the article: “The crickets were handed out at lunchtime on June 5, a tiny last-minute addition to a hefty 70-pound pack that included rifles, ammunition, hand grenades and assorted survival gear the 12,000 paratroopers of the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions carried into battle on D-Day.
The little clicker gets a bad rap in the epic 1962 war movie “The Longest Day.” In the inevitable showings this week, poor Pvt. Martini will again mistake the clack of a German rifle bolt for a response to his cricket. Movie buffs like to point out the German kills Martini with two shots from a single-shot rifle.
A less known fact: the cricket sounded nothing like a rifle bolt.
Few original D-Day crickets are still known to exist.
“I have been in the airborne museum business for 30 years and I’ve only seen a couple,” said John Duvall, director of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, N.C. He said collectors have offered to sell him original World War II crickets for up to $500.”
Very cool story....Thanks for posting..
Saw that in “The Longest Day”
On the other hand, I still love the movie “The Longest Day.”
One of my customers is the 13 year old boy that came up with the idea for those dummies loaded with firecrackers. He did it during a government call for inventions to help the war effort! He still has the letters for the War Department thanking him for the idea.
That’s a cool story..
I remember having a cricket when I was a kid, sometime in the early 50s. I think it came in a cereal box.
It is really amazing some of the stories that seemingly ordinary people have to tell!
I also count as customers an Elvis Presley protege, and a Yugoslavian WWII resistance fighter (the unit under his command rescued over 600 allied pilots).
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