Second World War veterans and their families are being asked by a Birmingham manufacturer to help locate the “Lost Clickers'” of the D-Day landings.
ACME Whistles, founded in 1870 by brothers Joseph and James Hudson, is working with The Royal British Legion on the mission to mark the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings.
The company, which makes the traditional Birmingham Press Club bugles that are awarded to Honorary Life Members, is searching for the original “Clickers” that were issued to the American Airborne Division as a vital piece of survival equipment.
Paratroopers were dropped into darkness behind enemy lines on the night before D-Day. If they were not alone when they landed, or later detected someone close by, they were to click once with two clicks in reply meaning friend and no response meaning something else. It was assumed that Clickers would be captured and even replicated so they were to be used for 24 hours only and after that banned completely.
ACME, which is based in Hockley, said many replica and counterfeit Clickers had been found but very few genuine originals had ever been seen. Around 7,000 Clickers were made during the six-month period immediately before D-Day in 1945 with some nickel-plated but other just left in plain brass to ensure there was time for every Clicker to be individually tested in time for D-Day.
ACME said the genuine originals would have tell-tale features that only it would recognise.
Simon Topman (pictured), who is managing director of the company, said: "During World War II, ACME played a vital role in the war effort. There was no commercial trade as production was given over entirely to making whistles for the war effort and, of course, Clickers.
"The factory itself was bombed when incendiary bombs were dropped and one found its way down the lift shaft, exploding in the cellar. Whistles were sent raining out into the streets of Birmingham, a third of the factory was demolished, but so essential were its products that it was rebuilt in just four days.
"We have people contact us regularly with ACME Thunderers, Metropolitan Police Whistles, Artillery Whistles and Infantry Whistles that were used in World War II but never a Clicker.
“Perhaps your Great Grandad was a D-Day veteran; maybe he has a box of war medals where it could lie unknown. Maybe an elderly neighbour is a widow od a D-Day veteran who doesn’t realise the significance of the unassuming Clicker,” he added.
Catherine Davies, head of remembrance at The Royal British Legion, said: "D-Day marked a turning point in the Second World War and changed the course of history. As we commemorate 75 years since the Normandy landings it's great to see organisations such as ACME find ways to thank this special generation and we look forward to seeing what the search for the lost Clickers unveils."
ACME is planning to hold a commemorative day for veterans, friends and family who find any of the Clickers.
For more details about the initiative contact Ben McFarlane on email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0121 554 2124.