Who is Felix?

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Felix is the unofficial mascot of British Army counter-terrorism bomb disposal.

Cats have always been associated with luck, possibly due to their ‘righting reflex’ – their innate ability to always land on their feet. Felix (Latin for ‘happy’ or ‘lucky’) was the name given to the popular cartoon cat created by Otto Messmer in early 1900s America. He was a cheerful, thoughtful character who never failed to survive mayhem unscathed. These are traits much coveted by bomb disposal experts and many bomb squads world-wide adopted Messmer’s ‘Felix the Cat’ as their symbol. There have even been some conventional munitions named after him.

Our Felix was originally drawn by SSgt Brian Shepherd, a bomb disposal expert serving in Northern Ireland in the 70s. The story goes that a young signaller was sent to the Officer Commanding 321 Squadron to ask which radio call-sign the unit wished to use. The OC, having lost two operators that morning, decided on ‘Phoenix’, to reflect the Squadron rising again from the ashes to conquer terrorism in Ireland. This was misheard by the signaller as ‘Felix’ and never changed – hence the phrase ‘Fetch Felix’ whenever a suspect device is found.

Felix appears on numerous pin and cloth badges, sporting different headgear to represent the various units and campaigns of the regiment. These badges are worn by operators themselves, as well as members of the emergency services and the general public who are grateful for bomb disposal experts’ work.

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