The Airborne Infantry “Cricket”: Dime Store Toy Becomes D-Day Legend
Cheap to produce, the airborne infantry 'cricket' was a lifesaver during the D-Day invasions. But who was it issued to? The debate continues today.
By Richard A. Beranty Made popular by the Band of Brothers portrayal of Easy Company, the U.S. paratrooper "cricket" was in fact used to identify each other in the predawn hours of the D-Day invasion. Issued to soldiers about four days before the Normandy landings, the device provided a means by which Americans could communicate in the darkness. One click of its tab asked, “Who’s there?” Two clicks in response meant, “Friend.” Over the years, a controversy of sorts has developed concerning which Airborne infantry divisions were issued this tool. The Man Behind the Idea It is an accepted fact that the man behind the cricket was Brig. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor, commanding general of the 101st Airborne Division. Taylor came to the 101st in March 1944, following duty with the 82nd Airborne in North Africa and Sicily, where earlier jumps showed that troops needed a way to identify one another in the dark. According to the division history of the 101st, the cricket was used “only by the 101st, though some publications and movies later suggested that the 82nd Airborne used them as well.” However, discrepancies abound. In his book The Longest Day, Cornelius Ryan cites several instances when paratroopers of both the 101st and the 82nd used the cricket. Therein lies the mystery. Were men of the 101st alone given the cricket, or were troops of the 82nd also issued the device? Jim Patton, executive secretary of the 101st Airborne Division Association, dropped into Norm
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3 thoughts on “The Airborne Infantry “Cricket”: Dime Store Toy Becomes D-Day Legend”
When we were very young we had something very similar which we used to click it sounded like a cricket when clicked they were very popular then;
Way back in time as I am now 77 years old
While at All-American Week at Fort Bragg in May, 1997-98, I visited the 82nd Museum on post and did a display with another re-enactor. While there I met a couple of “Red Devils” veterans of the 508th PIR who jumped in Normandy. I posed the perennial question of whether or not they had crickets and they answered in the affirmative. I suppose it could have been the dimming of memory after nearly 45 years, but take it for what it’s worth. The controversy continues. Stan Wolcott, Cody, WY
Band of Brothers wasn’t the first to make the Cricket “popular”, Try watching the Longest Day.