Lucky Penguin Down!

Aircrew mascots and lucky charms aren’t rare, and take a huge variety of forms. Wartime aircrew mascots are, of course, more likely because the very evidently arbitrary risk of death or injury whatever other steps one might take.


Here’s a great example from the RAF Museum collection, seen in 2008 at the RAF Museum Cosford.

The text reads: “Percy the Parachuting Penguin. I was the lucky mascot of Flight Lieutenant Stan Chapman of 158 Squadron Royal Air Force. He used to take me with him on bombing operations in his Halifax bomber.

“One night in 1944 we were over Berlin when our aircraft was hit by flak and badly damaged. It was going to crash so we had to bale out. SDtan parachuted from the aircraft carrying me safely, and we were soon captured by German soldiers and spent the rest of the war as prisoners in Germany.

“Stan said I was lucky because I made sure that he and all his crew mates survived being shot down that night.

Accession Number: 80/C/1656

The RAF Museum has a blog post by Clare Carr here featuring Percy, with more detail. Apparently Percy was also ‘imprisoned’, by being held by the guards for the rest of the war from his ‘person’, who did get Percy back at the war’s end.

Here’s Stan’s own words about Percy bring him and his crew good luck: “…Like many others on active service a mascot answered some unexplained need. The word ‘lucky’ is always associated with such items and it can, perhaps be born out on our surviving the night of January 28/29th 1944. Our losses were 44 aircraft that night, the vast majority of these crews did not witness the dull dismal dawn of the 29th which looked pretty good to me”.

Sadly we don’t know how Percy found Stan, or where Percy came from. Lucky charms were often a gift from family members, loved ones or sweethearts, and accepting one was a good way around admitting you might like to have one to yourself.

They certainly provided comfort where all the training and preparation ran out and everything seemed lost. Percy did not survive uninjured and today has only one foot, but still a cheerful countenance. Duty done.

James, VintageAeroWriter.


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