An archaeological dig at the former base of the famous Easy Company featured in the TV show Band of brothers unearthed rare historical artifacts, including one of the lost ACME clickers used in the D-Day landings. The clicker, used by airborne troops in the D-Day landings 78 years ago today , was found a few feet away from two sets of dog tags belonging to members of the Band of Brothers.
Clickers were a small but vital piece of kit used by paratroopers behind enemy lines, who struck targets on the night before D-Day. They emitted a distinctive sound, identifying friend from foe – preventing allies from shoot each other in the dark if they landed off course.
ACME is one of the largest whistle manufacturers in the world, based in the bustling Jewelery District. Thousands and thousands of people walk past their HQ every day – and if you’ve ever heard a whistle, chances are it’s one of theirs.
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Footage of the clicker discovered in Aldbourne, Wiltshire, where the 101st Airborne was stationed during World War II, was immediately sent to ACME whistle experts in Birmingham for authentication. Simon Topman, Managing Director of ACME, said: “This is a fascinating find for a number of reasons, but there was no doubt that this was a genuine ACME clicker issued for D-Day landings. J.”
Clickers were only used for 24 hours, as commanders feared they would be captured or reproduced. Soldiers encountering another group clicked once and waited for a response – two clicks meant “friend”, and no response probably meant a German patrol.
The clicker found in Wiltshire showed how hard raw materials were to come by during the war. “We were really excited about the material used,” said Simon Topman.
“When we received pictures we could clearly see that the metal used had been reused as there was vivid coloring and patterning on the inside of the clicker. While this is not the case with all units, our records show that the war effort forced us to reuse metal from alternative sources, even reusing boxes and packaging from Cadbury, based just down the road.
Two sets of dog tags were found within yards of the clicker – those of Richard A. Blake and Carl Fenstermaker. Fenstermaker made three jumps with the 101st Airborne, finding his way through D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium during the recapture of Western Europe.
Carl Fenstermaker’s surviving grandson, Andrew Fenstermaker, said: ‘We didn’t know much about his service, he wasn’t one to talk about it much. I was really excited to hear about what you found. It’s something I’m thrilled to share with my dad, aunt and uncles, all of his children are still alive so it will mean a lot to them.
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The Clickers were brought back to base in Wiltshire after their fight ended by Easy Company, explaining how this rare and fleeting piece of history was found there. Only a handful of real clickers have been found
The story of the discovery will air this week on Dan Snow’s History Hit podcast, featuring archaeologist Richard Osgood. Richard, who found the clicker, said: “Being part of this defining moment has been a real honour.
“Adding names and faces to the Band of Brothers allows us to keep their history alive. We are extremely excited to be working with History Hit on the documentary which will be both moving and informative, bringing history to life.
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