The Original Click Bait: Identifying Friend or Foe with the WWII Cricket Clicker - ITS Tactical

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The Original Click Bait: Identifying Friend or Foe with the WWII Cricket Clicker

By Bryan Black

Cricket_Clicker_01

During Operation Overlord, the WWII D-Day Invasion into Normandy, France on June 6th 1944, American Paratroopers carried a signaling device known as the Cricket.

cricket-02The Cricket Clicker (aka Cricket Clacker) provided a distinct “click” sound when the steel backer was depressed against the brass body of the small 2 inch device.

Used as an early IFF (Identification Friend or Foe) device, the Cricket enabled paratroopers to communicate with each other under total darkness and surrounded by enemy forces as they landed scattered and out of position on the beach.

The instructions were to click once to call for an identification and respond with two clicks to signal as a friend, rather than be recognized as a foe.

“I had my pistol in one hand, my cricket in the other… I crept along the hedgerow looking for a gate. Just as I found it, I heard a stir on the other side. I drew my pistol and got all set. Then I heard the click. That was the most pleasant sound I ever heard in the entire war.” ~ General Maxwell D. Taylor, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division

Cricket Clicker Origins

General Dwight D. Eisenhower

The original Cricket Clickers were manufactured in England by the J. Hudson and Co. Ltd. of Birmingham as time keepers for band leaders. Purchased in bulk by the U.S. for 82nd and 101st Army Airborne Divisions, the Acme No. 470 Clicker was originally thought to be a Cracker Jack Prize by some, but no doubt served its purpose during the landing.

As you may remember from a previous ITS article on signs and countersigns, a challenge and reply type system is only as good as its ability to remain a secret.

Cricket_Clicker_02

From what I’ve read on D-Day history, the Cricket was only meant to provide recognition during the landing and was to be discarded after that, fearing that the Germans would learn of the device and use it against our troops.

Cricket Clicker Reproductions

As most Crickets were discarded after the D-Day landing, it’s tough to source an original Cricket from the WWII era. There are quite a few companies making replicas, but the one I picked up for this article was purchased on Amazon for $10. They have a lanyard hole and produce the audible click with no issues.

Cricket_Clicker_03

If you’re into all kinds of signals and recognition, like I have a fondness for, check out an article I wrote on ITS about the history of signs, countersigns, challenges and replies. The Language of Espionage: Signs, Countersigns and Recognition.

You might also be interested in a recent photo tour we put together of the National D-Day Memorial.

d-day-memorial-63

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Discussion

  • Jeremy Milas

    Or you can use a Snapple top

  • Andrew Downie

    The clicker which sounded exactly like a Mauser rifle being cocked…

    • Fernando Tamayo Hurtado

      I remember that from some stories and a movie I saw too.

    • Philip McCready

      “The Longest Day”

    • Andrew Downie

      It was a famous story in the 82nd Airborne, along with the misdrops resulting in the creation of “Little groups of paratroopers” running around behind enemy lines wreaking havoc. When I was in (late 80’s, early 90’s) That was still taught as a viable secondary operational order in the event of separation from our unit in combat

  • Russ Keith

    What is this, Forgotten Weapons? 😛
    (Yes, I know this isn’t a weapon, but it certainly seems right up Ian’s alley.)

  • Kevin Gardner

    Pretty cool little item. I picked one up in 2004 when I went to Normandy during the 70th Anniversary.

  • Russ Mitchell

    Got two geniue issued one’s found when digging out a drainage ditch at my parents house near caraten.

  • Dan Derson

    I train my dog with something like that.

  • Orrin Dewbre

    My sis picked up a couple of these while touring through France and actually going to the memorial they have there. She gave it to me and explained its usage. Very, very cool!

  • Stanley Gasswint

    they sell repros at the gift shop at the World War Two Museum in New Orleans. You know, if you need a reason for another road trip to the Big Easy.

  • Rob Hartman

    I remember this being used in a WWII movie. Pretty cool. That’s it Tommy Johnson, The Longer Day. Just saw your comment.

  • Ken Bass

    Awe man! I thought ITS was gonna reintroduce these things! I have a love for the cricket, WWII made some badass stamped items, Jeeps, crickets, P38 can openers etc.

  • Carel Meyer

    Also have ons stil original bit old but still working fine

  • DanDavinci

    On social media sites, it would be beneficial to have this in the form of a questionnaire, to send out sr ared as “random but vital questionaire” especially for all the young lads out across the world with internet access and a social media profile. Hopefully, it would be one way to limit bullying across the globe, at least online but certainly would also help deter it in the real-world sense on campuses and the like. Deterrence and awareness of your surroundings is key to smashing a bully before the act.

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