Cont. from page 4.
The Eagle Squadron patch was created by Charles Sweeny, who was the co-founder of the “Eagle” squadrons, and their main recruiter, he used the insignia of the eagle on his U.S. passport as inspiration. The name “Eagle Squadron” was actually coined by his father after he saw the motif for the first time. These patches were worn on one or both sleeves of their RAF tunics, and were sewn onto many parts of their flight gear such as their Mae West jacket. To accompany the “ES” Eagle Squadron patch, which represented all American pilots and ground crew, each individual squadron, had their own English style, RAF Squadron patch.
Following their incorporation into the U.S. Air Corps, many former “Eagle Squadron” members carried on several traditions. First, all pilots were authorized to wear the RAF wings above their right breast pocket with the U.S. Wings on the left. Many wore the RAF squadron patch on the right breast as well. Former ground crew members continued. to wear the “ES” patch on the left sleeve of their U.S. uniforms. Some pilots and ground crews members wore an RAF button, as the top button on their U.S. service blouses. An English made DI, or Unit Distinctive Insignia was made from the “ES” patch and was worn by many former members. Today these are all highly prized collectables. What are they worth? Good question, as far as the patch is concerned, I have turned down offers of over $500 for the one I have. I’ve seen “ES” patches offered from $200-$800, and I’m sure many are fake, so be careful. I have never seen a DI which was for sale, nor have I seen any of the 71st, 121st or 133rd squadron patches for sale that I thought might be original. The DI pictured in this article, was found at a past TMCA show, and is identical in every way, to one that is still in the hands of a former veteran of the 71st squadron.
Left: Major Don Gentile, USAAF (ace), and his wife late in the war, still wearing his RAF Wings, and the patch from the 133rd “Eagle Squadron” on the right pocket of his American uniform.