The View from a Drawbridge

The random musings of a bridgetender with entirely too much time on her hands.

I recently came upon this Facebook meme, and it made me laugh. It says that during WW2, the Germans built a fake wooden airfield with wooden aircraft, vehicles, and hangars in order to trick the Allies. The RAF, having known of the secret project for months, patiently waited for them to finish and then dropped a single fake wooden bomb on it.

I want this to be true. I really do. It would demonstrate that even in times of extreme crisis, human beings still manage to have a sense of humor. And I’m sure it would have been a huge morale booster.

I decided to do a little digging and I found an article on the leadstories.com website that leads me to believe that the author also wants this to be true. It says that versions of the story have been floating around since the 1940’s. Most of these accounts are secondhand. A sort of “he said, she said” situation.

We know that decoy airfields actually existed on both sides, and that wooden bombs were used to train soldiers in the art of bomb removal. Those are facts. But we have no real evidence that these funny stories are anything more than stories. If I had stopped at this first article, I might have been left with a tiny, shining belief that maybe, possibly, this really did happen.

But then I went to that crusher of all fantasies, Snopes.com, and they brought up several points that had been nagging at me.

  • Strategically, wouldn’t it make more sense to let your enemy continue to believe that you thought their fake airfield was legitimate?
  • The allies needed every plane and pilot focused on doing their job rather then wasting fuel and risking lives and equipment on a practical joke.
  • There was a lot of opportunity for failure with this frivolous maneuver. If the bomb shattered upon landing, the Germans wouldn’t even know it happened.
  • Wood and time were at a premium. It’s unlikely the fake airfield was made entirely of wood.

So, no, darn it, I don’t think this is true. I can imagine my father in his uniform, getting drunk at some local Austrian pub when he was on leave, and making this story up to impress a girl. True or not true, the story still makes me smile. I hope it also made a lot of soldiers smile when they heard it. If so, mission accomplished.

Enjoying my view? Then you’ll enjoy my book! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

4 thoughts on “The Compelling Wooden Bomb Story

  1. George says:

    Thanks for investigating this example of how easy it is to share fake news on the Internet. A few seconds of reading it without further research, plants it in our brains to become a new “history lesson”. Hearing fake news repeated enough times and it’s easy to forget whether Oceania is the enemy or friend.

    1. Yes indeed. You’re very welcome.

  2. Lyn says:

    So true, or not true, the story was good for morale and still made me laugh all these years later. There’s also a chance that Snope’s has gotten a few things wrong. Let’s put that rumor out there and watch them fact check it. 🙂

    1. So hard to believe anything anymore, but they do present logical arguments.

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