Originally designed and produced as a handy sized time keeping device for band and orchestra leaders in the 1920's the bulk of the production from Hudson & Co. was exported to the United States. It is possible that one or two examples of the clicker came back to England with visiting U.S. Army bands and was somehow 'discovered' by a member of the 101st airborne division as an excellent signalling device for the hours of darkness. However, General Maxwell D. Taylor , commander of the 101st Airborne Division claims that he introduced the use of the cricket in 1944.
An order was placed with J Hudson and Co. and the factory increased production to meet the large order, making up the quantity with existing stock. Genuine examples exist in brass and nickel plated brass. The order was made up of existing stock, initially the nickel version and the remainder were made of brass. Today the numbers that are emerging indicate that for every seven to ten brass versions found there is one nickel version found. This most likely indicates that nickel was the minority of the order make up or in other words the brass version was predominant.
The crickets were used during the night of June 5th / 6th 1944 by the young men of the 101st with the intention that they should be discarded thereafter. Many of the men retained their 'crickets' long after the war and they have since become iconic symbols of the U.S. airborne brotherhood and indeed D-Day itself. Crickets have appeared in numerous well-known feature films (The Longest Day), television series (Band of Brothers) and documentaries and are recognised the world over.
To minimise the chance of the new clickers being passed off as originals the manufacturers have stamped an additional discreet pressing into the body of the clicker which can only be seen by looking inside the cavity. This measure does not detract in any way from the totally original appearance of the clicker which looks entirely authentic externally. These genuine J Hudson and Co clickers are the best available and are the must have for the true airborne aficionado or re-enactor.
There are now emerging several recollections of the cricket being made available to the 82'd Airborne Division with individuals acquiring them rather than being issued on the same scale as the 101st. General James Gavin "The Jumping General" commander of the 82'd Airborne in WW2, however dismissed this idea and there is no evidence that they were issued to the 82'd Airborne in WW2.
As an interesting point - the well known Author and Historian Michel De Trez has a tin cricket with a different makers mark on it: 'The Acme - Reg'd - ENGLAND' and this came from a French man who was given it by a 101st Soldier when he was a child. This could very well be the case, Hudson and Co. have no information that this version was made by them. Which again does not say that it did or did not exist as records do not exist, we know that Hudson & Co. made ww2 whistles from Cadbury's tin however when brass supplies were low.