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’ – an 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 personnel and many bomb squads worldwide 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, an Ammunition Technician serving in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. 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 was never changed – hence the phrase ‘Fetch Felix’ whenever a suspect device is found.
Felix appears on numerous pin badges, T-shirts and other items, sporting a variety of headgear to represent various units and campaigns within the Royal Logistic Corps. These badges are worn by operators themselves, as well as members of the emergency services and the general public who support the work of these people.
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