Whistles were issued to all branches of the army, particularly to MP personnel and officers. The most famous is the brass Thunderer whistle, which was used by pilots who wore them on the zipper of their A-2 flight jackets. The Thunderer whistle is the only type listed in my copy of the U.S. Military Forces Supply Catalog, dated 15 January 1945. But obviously, other official issue types existed, notably the OD green plastic whistle. The brass whistles, which may also be found nickle plated, are much more common than the plastic ones. Two of the plastic whistles I have are both 1943 dated, the other one is undated and I have never seen any other year in photographs, except for the otherwise identical Navy-issue green plastic whistle, which is 1944 dated.
The whistle was mostly worn with the issue chain, suspended from the left shoulder epaulette, with the whistle hanging from the left breast pocket of the jacket. Chains existed in brass, nickle plated brass and in parkerized steel. The patterns of these chains are also slightly different (see photographs below). It appears that some whistles also had their chains replaced by a leather lanyard or bootlace, as in this photograph. I can only guess this was because chains are more noisy and less comfortable to wear around the neck.
These are nickle plated chains. Note that the pattern of the chain is identical to that of the one in the middle on the picture on top.
Some MPs had a special BOS (Branch of Service) insignia, worn on the left collar, which had a hook for the whistle. The one in this picture is probably not WW2 issue, I just grabbed it from eBay to show what I’m talking about. It would be interesting to get a picture of a bonafide WW2 issue insignia (if these already existed in WW2).
Here’s a side view of my whistles.
(click on the photos to enlarge)
And these are the reverse sides, always unmarked.
(click on the photos to enlarge)
In these top views you can see that all use the same kind of wooden ball inside.
(click on the photos to enlarge)
The Thunderer whistle is listed in the aformentioned Supply Catalog with the following details:
Service: 7 (that means Signal Corps)
Stock or Model No.: 6Z4002A-1
Item: Flashlight TL122A (Pre-focused, right-angle, spotlight type; 2 cell)
Price $ .62
It’s easier for me to just add new pictures here as they come in, instead of having to rework the article each time. I can’t ask everyone to photograph their whistles on the same background, same size etc. (besides, my pictures aren’t all that great anyway)
The first addition are two other brass whistles from Paul Reijnders. The design is identical to the Thunderer model, but these are obviously genuine army issue. One has a piece of parachute cord as a lanyard.
The second addition is a 1944 dated navy-issue plastic whistle. The whistle is otherwise identical to the army ones at the top. The manufacturer logo is the same as the one on my army-issue whistly in picture above. I don’t know which manufacturer that is. If you know, please let me know.
The third addition from April 2007 is this unusual black bakelite whistle I bought last summer, but I only just took some pictures of it. It is marked U.S. Army and identical to the OD plastic ones, except for the shape of the rivets. Probably another manufacturer. The center inset is of an almost identical black whistle from Paul Reijnders, almost – except for the rivets.
Another one from Paul, added on 18 May. Keep them coming Paul! No military markings, but identical to the other brass whistles above. Top marked ‘American Liberty U.S.A.’.
Laurent Gadreau alerted me about this orange-transparent 1943 dated US Army whistle sold at Lux Militaria. It looks identical to other OD green whistles above. I’m not sure why they would have made them in orange for the army. Presumably for training or survival equipment.
Interestingly, it allows us to see the interior structure of the whistle.
Laurent Gardiau, who also sent me photos of an orange transparent whistle (see above), sent me a picture of a pink whistle, also US Army 1943 marked. It is otherwise identical to the green ones. While we could think of the practicality of an orange whistle, pink seems an odd choice of color for the Army. I have never seen one like this before.
You can contribute too:
This article describes the variety of whistles that I have, but there must be more. I haven’t researched it much yet, so you are welcome to contribute with any additional information that you may have, especially pictures of other types than the ones listed here.
Just listed a black 1944 us army whistle on ebay. I listed it as a paratrooper whistle. I don’t see pics of this one on your website. Is it rare??
Yes, the black ones are more rare than the green ones. There are images of a black one in my article, towards the bottom. Kind regards, Wouter
I have a green whistle with chain and pocket clip , on one side at top marked, U.S.and at bottom same side L.P.1944. (Could be ,I. P. )
It has a wooden pea and makes one mighty din.this whistle came from a wealthy house in Liverpool. Any idea what L.P. or I. P. may be ?
Hi, I have seen that too, but don’t know what it stands for. I suppose the P stands for Plastic, but I’m guessing.
Do you know what O.K.T. means on US 1976 whistle? Green plastic whistle with wood or cork pea inside. Thanks.
Hi Jacqueline, I’m not familiar with that code. But I’ll post your comment here. Maybe someone else knows.
Found a 1945 plastic US navy whistle like the one shown here washed up on the beach while seaglassing. Where the wooden ball was is a seashell. The whistle looks very old and battered but it is intact and the text on the side is fully visible. What are the odds of this whistle being real?
Hi Ryan, sure it can be real. It’s not like the material would deteriorate in over 70 years, even in seawater. It would be fun if you could add a photo of how you found it so I can do a post on it.
Hello! What would you value the 1944 US Army black plastic whistle at?
Hi Amy, it depends if it’s actually inscribed US Army, or USN (less valuable), if it’s WWII dated and if it has the original chain, a replacement leather lanyard, or none at all, and if the glue hasn’t cracked. I’d say between $20 and $55 for an Army one, depending on condition and completeness.
Found a green 1976 today in a resale shop , owner gave it to me for free!
Good for you 🙂
I remember watching the movie, The Longest Day where the Paratroopers where using Cricket Clicker Clacker, not whistles. I also read an article long time ago, that some of the Clackers issued where actually toy clackers in the form of frogs, etc., is this true? Maybe do an article on Cricket Clackers? There are so many reproductions out there. Thanks.
Hello Jaime, I have read the same story, but if it’s true, I don’t know. It would be interesting to do an article on the crickets, including the toy models. I think I will start with some photos of my own crickets, do some research and then ask for input. And take it from there. A lot of money is paid for original crickets, but how can you be sure? The reproductions I have look very real and old. I also have one original toy cricket as shown in America’s Finest.
I just picked up an army L.P. marked 1944 green plastic whistle with chain and intact cork. It has circular indentations on the sides of it for your fingers. Is one with the indentations common as well? I did not see any like it on here so I thought I would find out what I could. Thanks!
You mean with the cicular identation like this one? https://www.paratrooper.be/wp-content/uploads/DSC_8363-1.jpg
I just sold this particular one, but as you can see, it’s 1944 dated.
My dad was in the service and served in occupied Japan. I found a black plastic whistle with U.S. Army on it. Any idea if it was from that time?
Hello Kathy, is it like the black bakelite one in my article? Then yes, it would be from the war. If plastic and with rounded corners rather than the sharper edges you see in all the photos in my article (also for the green ones), then it’s most likely post-war.
I just want to know what the whistle was for. It’ not for sale. We just want to why a soldier in WW2 would be have a brass whistle.
Hello Tim, mostly NCOs would have them to rally their men to assemble, start an attack etc. Even though talky walkies had been invented, these were far from being as reliable as today’s modern tactical comms, and they were heavy and cumbersome.