Great Britain

Rare pin awarded to Polish soldier to go up for auction

A GOLD pin, awarded to a Polish pilot for parachuting out of his shot down Supermarine Spitfire during the Second World War, is due to go up for auction.

The 19mm-long, nine carat gold Caterpillar Club Irvin pin, with red amethyst eyes, was awarded to Kapitan Stanislaw Zygmunt Krol in 1942.

The Club was set up in 1922, to recognise those who successfully 'bailed out' of a disabled plane wearing a parachute made by the Irvin Air Chute Company. The Club name refers to the role of the silk worm in producing parachute fabric.

1818 Auctioneers valuer Ken Payne said there had been a lot of interest in the badge which he expects to make over £800 at the firm’s timed online Militaria auction.

It goes live between Thursday 17 September and Sunday 4 October.

Mr Payne said: “It’s the exceptional nature of the recipient of this badge which makes it stand out. And it’s his war service that makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Stanislaw, or ‘Stan’, was a Spitfire pilot who not only fought the Germans in Poland but also in France and Britain and escaped many times when captured.

“Stan was eventually brought to Stalag Luft III, a prisoner of war camp in Poland for repeat escapees.

The film, the Great Escape, tells of the bold breakout from Stalag Luft III by Allied prisoners in 1944.

An iconic event of the Second World War it embodied Allied bravery and Nazi evil. When recaptured, Stan - along with many of the 76 men who escaped with him - was murdered on 12 April 1944 by the Gestapo.

“Stan’s Caterpillar Club Irvin pin is being sold by a vendor from North Lancashire who wishes to remain anonymous. It belonged to her parents-in-law who first met Stan when they were on holiday.

“They formed a deep relationship with Stan who was like a second son to them. Stan named them as his next of kin, a requirement of pilots flying from British bases. The vendor has tried to return the pin to Stan’s family making enquiries through military and Polish museums. And now, drawing a blank, she wants this incredible badge and man to be remembered."

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