The U.S. Army’s 101st and 82nd Airborne divisions, “The Screaming Eagles”, who were the first troops to drop behind enemy lines, were equipped with a Zippo Windproof Lighter and Acme Cricket in addition to their standard battle gear. This gift set is a timely reminder of those who served in one of the world’s most important historical conflicts.
About the commemorative lighter
Each lighter is consecutively numbered and production was limited to 7,000 pieces. Vince Montecalvo, Zippo National Sales Manager, noted, “This piece has been a big hit -- Zippo has sold the entire run of the collectible to our distributors, however they are still available at many Zippo retailers, including a very limited supply at the store at Zippo/Case Museum, in Bradford.”
About the Acme Cricket
Montecalvo was responsible for the idea to pair the Acme clicker with the brass lighter for the set. The clicker was called the Cricket, because of the “click-clack” sound it makes. It was a vital tool for paratroopers to be able to identify each other, and these replicas have been made in the very same factory as the original – J Hudson & Company in Birmingham, England. For the first 24 hours of D-Day, “Operation Overlord”, if they saw another soldier, they were to press the toy once “click-clack,” or say “Flash” and the other person was to immediately respond with “click-clack, click-clack” or say “Thunder.” If they didn’t respond, the order was to fire.
Zippo: a wartime heritage
The Zippo lighter, famed for its reliability and durability, was used throughout WWII by soldiers to light campfires, light fuses on explosives, hammer nails, signal to fellow soldiers with the famous Zippo click, heat rations in their helmets, and more. There are even reports from some soldiers that the Zippo lighter saved their lives by deflecting bullets. In fact, Zippo owes much of its worldwide recognition to the thousands of soldiers who carried their Zippo Windproof Lighters into battle. During the war years, Zippo founder George G. Blaisdell dedicated manufacturing efforts to supplying Zippo lighters exclusively to the U.S. military.
The 70th Anniversary set is the fourth D-Day commemorative edition that Zippo has issued. It follows commemoratives released on the 50th, 60th, and 65th anniversaries of the event. The current set was the first to be bilingual, in English and French, representing both the launching and landing countries involved the historic operation.
Pictured, Zippo artist Dave Dalton, left, and sales manager Vince Montecalvo exhibit the 70th Anniversary D-Day collectible recently issued by the firm. The set includes a commemorative brass lighter and a brass Acme Cricket clicker. Both objects were used by allied forces during the D-Day landings on June 6, 1944.
Photos provided by Zippo