Irvin Parachute Company Pin Badge

The Irvin parachute company was set up in New York in 1919 by Leslie Irvin who had undertaken the world’s first free fall parachute jump the same year. The RAF became one of the first air forces in the world to adopt the parachute for its aircrews in 1925 and to fulfil this order Irvin opened a factory in the UK. This factory was to be incredibly busy during World War II supplying parachutes to the RAF and allied airforces for their aircrew, as well as chutes for parachute troops, dropping supplies and anything else that would require a large parachute. The workforce at the factory was producing up to 1500 parachutes a week and to identify members of the workforce, a small enamel pin badge was issued bearing the company’s badge of an open parachute with a pair of wings in blue and white:

The wings have a gilt wash over them and a pin is fitted to the rear:

The lettering here indicates that the badges were made by HW Miller of Birmingham for Irvin. This badge is neither rare nor expensive on the collector’s market. There has been some speculation that these badges were for those who had used an Irvin parachute, however this theory seems erroneous as the badges do not appear in military photographs and the caterpillar club already existed for those who had made an emergency jump using one of Irvin’s products. The issue of the badge to the workforce therefore seems the most probable use of the badge


  1. If they were for bailing out, one of my old CO’s would have had three 🙂
    His favourite story was when he had an engine failure on takeoff in a 104 and ‘punched out’ just before the crash, his chute worked as advertised and he made a perfect landing.
    As he told it: “There I was, standing by the side of the runway with my thumb out, and the crash trucks went racing right by me…I had to walk halfway back to the ramp before someone picked me up” (this was long before the movie ‘the right stuff’ came out)
    Another time, another 104, he said he had a birdstrike then winked “it was still in it’s nest”

  2. When I did the basic parachute course (in about 1970) each student was given one of these at the end of the course, together with one of the equivalent badges from GQ, who were the other manufacturer of parachutes. My GQ one is unmarked, but the Irvin one is marked ‘Fattorini Birmingham’.

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