This club was started in the US in 1922 as an exclusive group for those who had their lives saved by parachuting from a stricken aircraft. The name came because of parachute material woven from silk, produced by the caterpillar/silkworm.
Membership was marked by a caterpillar badge, and that earned by Van der Stok came up at Lockdales’ (19.5% buyer’s premium) auction in Ipswich on November 17-18.
Engraved to the reverse F/Lt B Van Der Stok, it was consigned by a UK private collector. Estimated at £500-600, the badge sold for £2700 hammer to another UK private collector bidding by phone.
Second World War fighter ace Van der Stok (1915-93) had joined the Dutch Air Force in 1936 and managed to reach Scotland in 1941 after the Netherlands were occupied.
He ended up flying Spitfires. By the time he was shot down and had to bale out over France he was credited with six victories.
The Great Escape was his third attempt to flee Stalag Luft III. For a year previously he had helped to construct the tunnels Tom, Dick and Harry. Of the 75 who fled from the camp on the night of March 24, 1944, all but van der Stok and two others were recaptured (50 were shot). He rejoined the RAF and took part in D-Day and anti-V1 operations. In 1945, he moved to 322, a Dutch squadron serving in the RAF and based in the Netherlands.