A pigeon and a wooden bomb

Discussion in 'Others' started by levien, Sep 11, 2009.

  1. levien

    levien Just a member

    On the former island in south-west part of Holland where I live lies close to the sea the village Ouddorp. West of that village is a rugged dune area called Westduinen.
    The story goes that the Germans had made there a phoney airfield, which was bombed by the British several times.
    To gather information from occupied Europe the English dropped small baskets containing a pigeon with a small container, a piece of paper, some food for the pigeon and a letter asking to write on that small piece of paper whatever useful information about the Germans, connect the container to the leg of the pigeon and release it (the pigeon, of course).
    One pigeon was found by a local from Ouddorp. He wrote down that the airfield was not real and sent the pigeon on it's way.
    Some time later a British plane flew over the "airfield" and dropped a wooden bomb.

    It is a nice story, but I don't know if it is true. Anyone of you able to confirm this story or deny it?

    Bernard O'Connor likes this.
  2. -tmm-

    -tmm- Senior Member

  3. levien

    levien Just a member

    Would have been to good to be true.
    Interesting atricle on that site.

    The use of pigeons would that be true, you think?

    Thanks for your reply,

    Caroline Wright likes this.
  4. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Didn't the British release pigeons on D-day from one of the beaches? If I'm right, they flew inland to the Germans instead of back to the ships.

    Not too sure how true this is either. I wouldn't trust a pigeon with sensitive info strapped to it's leg like. lol.
  5. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    For the wooden bomb see my article here: Whispers of War - The British World War II rumour campaign by Lee Richards
    An example of one of the really bad rumours concocted by the UPC and which was severely ridiculed by the Air Ministry said that in a Messerschmitt fighter brought down recently, some of the rivets were found to be made of wood! It seems the UPC had a preoccupation with wooden planes, suggested in January 1941, another of their rumours joked:
    The Germans built a dummy aerodrome in Normandy with wooden planes. Next night the RAF bombed it – with wooden bombs!15
    The sib was not approved for dissemination, since the ISSB considered it liable to compromise intelligence sources. The joke, however, appeared in print a few months later in the CBS correspondent, William L. Shirer's book, Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent, 1934-1941. Under the entry for 27 November 1940, Shirer claims he heard it from a mysterious source referred to only as "X" but this time the location of the dummy aerodrome was near Amsterdam. It is now impossible to tell whether PWE supplied this amusing anecdote to Shirer as filler for his book, or if it was Shirer who got the story in circulation after his return from Germany. Either way since the war it has become an urban legend in various guises.

    And for pigeons: Black Propaganda - Operation Periwig
    Of all the Periwig proposals, Delmer was particularly enthusiastic about the homing pigeon operation. In coordination with a large number of pigeons being dropped from aircraft over Germany, black radio broadcasts suggested that they were being utilised by the Allies to obtain intelligence information from helpful Germans. The pigeons, with small message capsules attached to their legs, were packaged in containers connected to parachutes. Included was food, a message pad, pencil, instructions for the use of the homing pigeon, and a questionnaire to be filled in and returned by the finder. The message pads, each page with a unique serial number, instruction leaflets, and questionnaires were printed by Howe's Unit, (H.1030).

    The questionnaire asked for the names and addresses of Party leaders, Gestapo personnel, and Police officers in the area; locations, with details, of Gestapo barracks, Police stations, and Luftwaffe airfields; information about troop movements, their equipment, and vehicles; and also it asked about the extent of damage caused by air raids. It concluded, "Contribute your part to shortening the war! Your assistance in the fight against Hitler is recognized and recompensed!" It did not really matter whether or not any cooperative Germans actually assisted by sending the pigeons back with useful intelligence, the main thing was for it to appear there were willing German collaborators helping the Allied cause.
    The RAFs Special Duties Squadron, based at Tempsford aerodrome, dropped the first batch of twenty pigeons on the night of 4/5 April. Six other stale birds were also dropped, which would not home and hopefully would be found by, or handed in to, the German authorities. They already had faked messages, written by PWE, attached to their legs, to provide evidence that the pigeons were being used for their intended purpose. The pigeon's dissemination was taken over by the Special Leaflet Squadron and continued until the night of 26/27 April. In total 330 birds were dropped, nine of which flew back to England and two others made it to France. Of these five of them carried real messages.
    One message was in broken English, or what might more aptly be described as "pigeon English". The senders mockingly thanked the British for the pigeons and apologised for not returning two other birds as they were now in their stomachs. Please send more they requested.
    Another message did contain real information, it read:
    The pigeon was found at four o'clock in the morning in our village. There are no German military personnel in our village. The name of the village is Hellensen.
    As far as I know, Ludenscheid will not be defended because there are many hospitals in the town. The Party swine have all cleared out. Kreisleiter Joust (or Poust) was seen in the town yesterday in civilian clothes.
    I am also a pigeon fancier and send my greetings. Good flight.

    Smudger Jnr likes this.
  6. levien

    levien Just a member

    Wonderful articles.

  7. Smudger Jnr

    Smudger Jnr Our Man in Berlin


    Well found and extremely interesting to read.

  8. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    Thanks guys, glad you found the articles interesting.

  9. Kuno

    Kuno Very Senior Member

    There is as well a fairly similar story from North Africa: When the Germans recognized that the British had built a dummy-railhead they dropped a wooden bomb on it :)
  10. Lofty1

    Lofty1 Senior Member

    Hi Levien, this story was related to I believe John suchet by a military historian he was interviewing live from Normandy in 1994, they were discussing German / British inteligence, we new very quickly it was a dummy airfield so when it was complete we sent a mosquito over and dropped a wooden bomb on the runway, and while pigeons have been mentioned, I heard a story that one was released in Oosterbeek that flew into the nearest tree and only set off for home after a few shots at it got it moving. regards LOFTY
  11. urqh

    urqh Senior Member

    sounds similar to ww1 tail.. nco and one basket pigeon for the use of.. ypres.. generals wait eagerly for news .. pigeon arrives.. quickly man get the message off..yes sir general your highness doff cap sir.. well man whats it say.. says thank god i dont have to drag this bl.... basket round the front with me all bl.... day...sir...scource horrible histories ww1..so must be true..
  12. levien

    levien Just a member

    Hi Levien, this story was related to I believe John suchet by a military historian he was interviewing live from Normandy in 1994, they were discussing German / British inteligence, we new very quickly it was a dummy airfield so when it was complete we sent a mosquito over and dropped a wooden bomb on the runway, and while pigeons have been mentioned, I heard a story that one was released in Oosterbeek that flew into the nearest tree and only set off for home after a few shots at it got it moving. regards LOFTY

    Thanks Lofty,

  13. mermoz07

    mermoz07 Junior Member

    Hello everybody!

    I’m the writer of a book: “The riddle of the wooden bomb. Wood for wood” prefaced by sir David Whiting former RAF engineer, step-son of Lord Dowding and specialist air warfare during WW2. This work is a serious synthesis about a subject never treated. An inventory documented and enriched by 86 illustrations and 187 notes and references. It brings together 163 stories and testimonies emanating from military pilots, resisters, veterans (whose German testimonies !) which may be ordinary soldiers, but also big names in aviation as well as senior officers . There are stories of former workers requisitioned on German airfields, professionals of Air Force, historians of the Second World War, some are academics. The author affirms nothing on the subject he could not personally verify. It was the careful record of all tracks interpretation of the phenomenon: the track Neve (confusion with decoys on the ground with bombs made of wood), the track Verstraeten (confusion with drop tanks), the track De Vos (disinformation propaganda). When engaged in a direction that does not prove conclusively (wooden bomb of Lillemer) it has rectified the matter and acknowledged that it was a false trail. Regarding the thesis of Dr. Benamou (french historian specialist of Normandy) involving shares of SOE in Psywar, he acknowledges in the book it is unfortunately unprovable. Regarding the interpretation Billion of "Ailes anciennes Le Bourget" (bomb glued laminated wood ), he acknowledges it has not obtained validation despite its many efforts to confirm it. Finally the track (call Whiting theory) that Normandy refers to the famous U.S. wooden bombs Mark 4 & 5 (smocking or floating bomb) is the only one for which he has clearly found a range of evidence and corroborating testimonies that led into a conclusive end of the book (case Merlier to Prédefin North France). This track embodies the famous case that now is no longer a myth but a historical reality. For more informations : http://www.lespressesdumidi.fr/the_riddle_wooden_bombs.html or www.courouble.info This book is translated in English by Frances Harper daughter of a RAF fighter pilot during ww2.

    Pierre-Antoine Courouble
    South France (Ardèche)
  14. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Levien, I have posted this elsewhere, but may be of interest, should you not have seen it already...

    3IG WD Appendix, Dated 27 Oct 1944

    Subject: - German Stay-behind Pigeon Services

    OCs All Coys.

    Reports have been received that the enemy is running an organised network of stay behind pigeon services in liberated countries, and captured agents have stated that pigeon agents are twice as numerous as W/T agents.

    The lofts are of two kinds: -

    (1) Small clandestine lofts from which birds would be despatched with information to central lofts beyond our lines.

    (2) Central lofts where this information would be relayed by W/T and which could organise supplies of birds to agents. Central lofts are known to exist at COLOGNE, FLUSHING, BERG (in the island of TRIEL) and possibly at PARIS and BRUSSELS which may still be operating from underground.

    Apart from their own birds the Germans have commandeered French, Belgian and Dutch pigeons. The German birds carry rings of the following types:-

    (a) WBNI plus number (WBNI standing for WEHRMACHT BRIEFTAUBE NEIDERLAND)

    (b) WBB0 plus an number (WBB0 standing for WEHRMACHT BRIEFTAUBE BELGIEN)

    The majority of the German birds also carry on their rings the word WEHRMACHT or WEHRMACHT BRIEFTAUBE. The ring numbers of the commandeered birds would be of the following types:-

    (a) HOLLAND-BELG-FRANCE 41 053917

    (b) HOLLAND-BELG-FRANCE 40 336810

    (c) HOLLAND-BELG-FRANCE 42 342180

    Units should be warned of the German use of pigeons for espionage purpose. Apart from the agents, the birds themselves are of value and should be seized, together with any message, forms, and message containers.

    Should any pigeon agents be captured, this HQ should be informed immediately through the normal channels.

    BLA, 27 Oct 44
  15. PsyWar.Org

    PsyWar.Org Archive monkey

    ... Regarding the thesis of Dr. Benamou (french historian specialist of Normandy) involving shares of SOE in Psywar, he acknowledges in the book it is unfortunately unprovable.

    Hi Peirre,

    Impressive that you've written a book on this subject. So you're basically saying there is truth to the stories? That the RAF did actually drop wooden bombs on fake airfields?

    I know we Brits get carried away with our sense of humour but why on earth would we do such a thing? Surely the last thing you'd want to do in a war is reveal to your enemy that you've detected one of their deceptions?

    I'm not aware of Dr Benamou's thesis but would like to know more. Can you tell me when and where it was published as I would be interested in reading it. In what respect is the psywar rumour not provable?

    Best wishes,

  16. mermoz07

    mermoz07 Junior Member

    Hi Lee,
    Benamou's thesis about SOE psywar and wooden bombs is very very interesting!! My english is too poor to explain all his point of view about it. I see with Mrs Frances Harper to do a translation of a french text about Benamou thesis. And i will post it.
    Best regards
    PS: The book develop this story, it could be buy in english with Alapage.com : Livres, DVD, Jeux vidéos, High Tech, Musique
  17. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Hello Pierre-Antoine and welcome to the forum
  18. mermoz07

    mermoz07 Junior Member

    Thank you very much.
    I go to my english lesson and i'll come back ;o)
  19. mermoz07

    mermoz07 Junior Member

    Hello, dear friends

    Before me, several WW2 historians that I quote in my book had considered dealing with the subject of wooden bombs, as they had come across an incredible number of stories about them. The intransigence of the English official services (Ministry of Defence, Air Historical Branch) had put them off. I even met a researcher who had befriended a woman in high position at the RAF Museum at Hendon, who told me that he had never been able to speak freely to her about the subject “which obviously bothered her” (his words). On a personal level, my many letters, emails and telephone calls, and even direct contacts by David Whiting, have produced nothing, or at best responses having nothing to do with the subject.
    The theory concerning individual initiatives on the part of pilots (dropping wooden bombs without their commanding officers knowing), which is the most plausible theory in my opinion, has now gone from being a reasonable assumption to a historical fact by way of various testimonies I have gathered and set down in my book. Since this sort of behaviour was forbidden, these isolated acts could have been called insubordination (war not being a game, and RAF pilots not being Monty Pythons, etc.!), and it would appear logical that the English ministries concerned would deny their existence after the war.
    The example of Lt Stoddard is a marvellous illustration of this. In the middle of the Vietnam War, he took off from the aircraft carrier Sartoga in a Skyraider, to which he had had a toilet bowl fixed under the wing that he was going to drop on the enemy! This mocking gesture towards the adversary was much more audacious than the small dropping of a wooden bomb in passing on a fake German airfield (undefended in 1943-1944), where wooden dummies were rotting. It was made possible by means of a faultless chain of complicity in the squadron: the mechanics who had adapted the hooks to fix the bowl on the rack, the armourers who had fixed it to the plane, the deck personnel who’d kept quiet during take-off, up to the sailors on the bridge who’d lined up making a “wall” so that the admiral couldn’t see the “Stoddard plan” when the plane advanced into position on deck. Even worse, as a film made by another plane at the right moment showed, when Stoddard dropped the “bacteriological bomb” (as he called it when contacting ground control who were flabbergasted to see it fall) on to the target, a relative wind flipped it over and it just missed the cabin, putting the pilot in danger of collision. But for the many photos taken proving it, “specialists” 40 years later would have denied such a thing happening, giving, as reasons, technical impossibility, military discipline, risk for the pilot, absurdity of such a gesture AND nothing in the archives about it. The pilot concerned was hauled up before his commanding officers, the film was impounded, but the photos that had been taken by others got out and have come down to us. After the war Stoddard and his accomplices, now demobbed, did nothing to hide their feat of arms. The wooden bombs were of the same stuff as Stoddard’s action (elegant irony in the middle of a war), but were easier and less dangerous for the 20-year-old pilots who wanted to have a good laugh at the expense of the enemy.
    As far as the Benamou theory is concerned, about which you have contacted me (operational droppings of wooden bombs by the English services as part of Psywar), the silence on the part of the British is much more difficult to interpret. Apparently the UPC (Underground Propaganda Committee, a branch of the Political Warfare Executive that was in charge of psychological warfare operations in London) had put forward the idea as early as January 1941 of propagating a rumour about wooden bombs, but it had been officially abandoned “so as not to expose our sources” (which comes down to saying “We had thought of “really” dropping wooden bombs on “specific targets” to back up the rumour, but this tactic would have seriously endangered our information sources). However, this very idea was taken up again in 1942-1943 by the SOE (according to former members of the Resistance and Jean-Pierre Benamou), so it was obvious that the danger for these sources had disappeared. Nevertheless propagation of a rumour about wooden bombs coupled of course by real droppings would have caused disagreement between services at the highest level, especially the War Office and the SOE whose freedom of action was faar-reaching. The problem was no longer about exposing information sources but of endangering the RAF’s reputation. War was not a game and you didn’t go about making fun of the enemy when so many men were putting their lives on the line. Churchill, who had created the SOE (and who loved telling the story about wooden bombs!), would not have taken a decision, leaving it up to those concerned to act as they wished in the very British way of the right hand not knowing what the left hand was doing when it wasn’t fighting against it. In 1946 when the SOE was dismantled and 90% of its archives destroyed, there was only the voice of the War Office left to give the official version.
    I have got quite a few interesting photos on the subject but I don’t know how to put them on line. For further information, please read “Wood for Wood” which is available through alapage.fr

    Best regards

    Pierre-Antoine Courouble
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  20. Dennis N

    Dennis N Junior Member

    Hi all, regarding the story of the pigeon near Ouddorp. This is not just a story, it's really true! I know the son of the man who sent the messages, his father was even awarded for it by the Commonwealth. Some of the messages can be read in the archives.

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