Caterpillar Club brooch could fly in sale

A WWII spitfire pilot’s Caterpillar Club brooch is going under the hammer in an upcoming jewellery auction in Birmingham. 

The 9ct gold red enamel brooch, which was awarded to Sgt. W. H. T. Farmer for his heroics successfully using a parachute to escape a falling aircraft, will be offers in Fellows Fine Jewellery sale on May 26.

A Caterpillar Club brooch that belonged to a WWII Spitfire pilot

The brooch has an estimate of £400 – £600 in the auction. 

Sgt Farmer’s Spitfire went down on July 23, 1942, during Operation Sweep. He served in the no. 234 Squadron. 

Sgt Farmer flew Spitfire vb AD454 which took off at 15:20pm on July 23, 1942. His aircraft left for a sweep between Plousecat and Guissény – and was subject to enemy machine gun fire near Landerneau. 

The reverse of a Caterpillar Club brooch that belonged to a WWII Spitfire pilot

The aircraft came down and Sgt Farmer was taken as a prisoner of war to Stalag Lamsdorf shortly after. 

Caterpillar Club brooches were awarded to individuals who successfully used their parachute to escape a disabled aircraft. It is likely Sgt Farmer would have been awarded this brooch, which has his name inscribed, at some stage after his Spitfire came down. A private individual has now brought it to Fellows. 

Fellows has sold several Caterpillar Club brooches over the years – with many fetching way above their auction estimates. 

Just under 600 items of jewellery from a variety of brands will go under the hammer in the Jewellery Quarter.

Ben Randall, Senior Specialist and Catalogue Manager at Fellows Auctioneers, said: “Much like an unassuming medal to the untrained eye, these tiny badges are a charming indicator of heroism and survival under immensely trying circumstances. Each badge tells a story that we would hope never needs repeating. 

A Caterpillar Club brooch pinned on a suit collar

“Sometimes it is the material value of a piece that explains its value. On other occasions it is the provenance, the history that you can hold in your hand. Don’t forget to check and see what treasures might be lurking in your family treasure chest.”