Here is another email from Andy in England about the parachute wings.
Hi again Anne,
With regards to the parachute pin…. whether it be the Gold Wings or the Caterpillar badge, the recipient or his superior would apply for them direct to the company. We would have then required verification (and still do) from his superior or an independent source (for example during the war, German POW camps documentation sent the corroborative information we required… this is to prevent badge collectors who make up stories to get these valuable mementos. Some of the WW2 correspondence we still retain to this day on the Caterpillar side and they make very interesting reading – unfortunately now not available to the public due to data protection laws …. We correspond only with the originator or family members as a side line to our day job).
With regard to what the pins are made from… the answer is ‘it depends’… during the war money was scarce and the pins used to be of a base metal covered in ‘gilt’. However, some pilots were sufficiently endowed that they requested gold metal pins and paid for those themselves….
Trust that this helps.
Engineering Manager, Airborne Systems Limited
For what it's worth, I suspect Dad's wings are base metal gilded. I will, however, take the pin to my local friendly jeweller to confirm this. It really doesn't matter but it is good to know.
And here are those two wonderful parachute ads - thanks again Andy.