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-   -   Wood for Wood confirmation (http://message.snopes.com/showthread.php?t=89100)

Kibu 03 April 2014 06:00 PM

Wood for Wood confirmation
 
While doing a great deal of research for a novel set in world war two, I happened across photographic confirmation of the Wood for Wood myth.

http://www.vintagewings.ca/Portals/0...odForWood9.jpg

This is a photo from the construction, the following is testimony from the attack.

Werner Thiel: I was born on the 24th of August 1923 in Dillenburg, in the center of Germany. I joined the Luftwaffe in 1942. After training courses in France (first in Romorantin, then Angers and later Le Mans) I was posted in October 1943 at the airfield of Werder, near Berlin. In those days I also worked at the false aerodrome of Borkheide that was equipped with a runway. We were living in a kind of container, nearby two air-raid shelters. These were in fact small bunkers where we could find refuge when the Allies bombed Berlin. At the end of October 1943, the air raid warning alarm went off. We put the lights on from the false runway and moved the decoy planes.

Courouble: How many decoy airplanes did you use?

Thiel: Maximum ten, I would say. They were made of wood and netting. A few nights before, we noticed reconnaissance missions, so we were prepared for the raid. We heard the planes coming …

Courouble: Sorry to interrupt you once again, but how many people were in charge at this dummy airfield?

Thiel: I would say a dozen soldiers. Not more.

Thiel: ... Like everybody else, we were afraid of these air raids. We heard the planes flying above us but this time nothing happened. At dawn, we left our shelter with cautious steps. We dreaded time bombs. We didn’t believe what we saw: they bombed us with wooden bombs! Six to ten wooden bombs laid on the ground, all with painted in white « Wood for Wood ».

Courouble: What about the body of those bombs? Was it hollow?

Thiel: They were made of solid wood. One of us was carpenter and managed to use this excellent wood material to build new frames for the enlarged aerial pictures that were going to decorate our austere surroundings.

Courouble: Did you use all these bombs for that purpose?

Thiel: Yes, all of them. We were not the only guardsmen. Our colleagues were full of admiration and we exchanged some of our pictures for cigarettes or food …

Courouble: Do you remember what you thought at that time? Did you have any idea about the use of these wooden bombs?

Thiel: We thought it was meant as a joke. Something like “Look how stupid you are. You built a dummy airfield. We saw it and it’s not worth dropping a real bomb!”


http://www.vintagewings.ca/VintageNe...-For-Wood.aspx

snopes 03 April 2014 06:12 PM

The photograph doesn't document anything other than the construction of a dummy airfield, hardly an uncommon phenomenon in World War II. The only real documentation the article offers that such a dummy airfield was actually "bombed" with wooden bombs is an account given by a Luftwaffe pilot 67 years after the fact -- not exactly a highly reliable form of evidence (especially given the prevalence of manufactured memories).

GenYus234 03 April 2014 06:23 PM

The linked article has pictures of a wooden bomb that says "Wood for Wood" in paint that looks remarkably clean for being 60+ years old.

Kibu 03 April 2014 06:24 PM

Apparently half my post vanished in my computer posting "saved" data. There was more to it.

http://www.taphilo.com/history/WWII/...ooden-bomb.jpg

The above is a photo taken by a French author who, after several years of research, produced a book documenting the various attacks. (It seems there were multiple attacks.) The author is Pierre Antoine Courouble, and that is from the Normandy Museum. He book is titled L'enigme les bombes en bois", in which he researches all accounts and the original legend, and came to the conclusion that the original legend is more of an amalgamation of several incidents where wooden decoy bombs were used, but also a variant of incendiary bombs which were made of wood to better start fires. The incendiary bombs were hit and miss at best, and notorious for not detonating until long after dropped.

Kibu 03 April 2014 06:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GenYus234 (Post 1813405)
The linked article has pictures of a wooden bomb that says "Wood for Wood" in paint that looks remarkably clean for being 60+ years old.

It also says that he's holding a replica mock up of it if you read it.... :lol:

GaryM 03 April 2014 06:34 PM

Inflatable Chevaux would be a good name for a band.

ASL 03 April 2014 07:09 PM

If you figure out that the other side is engaging in deception (decoy airplanes) why would you let them know you know? Why would you waste payload capacity and risk pilots' lives in the process?

snopes 03 April 2014 07:15 PM

Because everyone knows wars are won by one-upsmanship, not by troops and weapons.

JoeBentley 03 April 2014 07:36 PM

As noted setting up decoy airfields, bases and other military locations/equipment is a time honored tactic and this picture is evidence of nothing more then something we know went on all the time during World War II.

But okay here's my question. Let's say you identify an enemy decoy airfield and wanted to send a message to the enemy for a little bit of the ole' psychological warfare (seem seems to be the "theme" of this UL.)

Okay for reasons already mentioned I doubt any armed force engaged in heavy combat would waste the resources on such a thing but let's for a second let's just run with that.

Why a wooden bomb? I sorta get in theory why a little bit of one-upsmanship might have a place in psychological warfare, but irony?

Why not just drop a real bomb? I mean after you factor in the cost of the planes, pilots, fuel is a single non-guided gravity bomb versus a wooden bomb really gonna make a difference?

GenYus234 03 April 2014 07:43 PM

Dropping a single real bomb might not send the message that you had figured out that their airfield was fake. It might send the message that one of your bombers had gotten a stuck bomb freed and figured they might as well drop it on a real target. Dropping a wood bomb makes it clear that you know that the airfield is fake. And, making it wood when the fake airfield is wood sends the message that not only can you identify fake airfields, you can do it so well that you even know what it is made out of (wood as opposed to fabric, paint, straw, etc).

There might be some advantage in letting the enemy know you've seen through their disguise in that they'd abandon that fake airfield and set up another one somewhere else, tying up some transportation resources.

snopes 03 April 2014 08:27 PM

The thing is, when you drop a real bomb, the people it's dropped on are bound to notice it (unless it's a dud). Dropping a wooden bomb as a message depends upon the people you drop it on finding it, and its surviving the process relatively intact.

JoeBentley 03 April 2014 08:35 PM

Apropos of nothing inert bombs, bombs which don't contain explosives but are just a big heavy material (usually concrete) are a thing.

They are usually used for training, but occasionally used to destroy targets in highly dense urban areas to reduce potential civilian causalities.

Obviously a wooden one wouldn't make much sense though.

GenYus234 03 April 2014 08:50 PM

You could drop more than one wood bomb to increase the chances of it being found. Not like the extra weight of 99 extra wood bombs is going to be much against the weight of the plane and crew.

And while the people would notice a real bomb, they may not take the message "We know this airfield is fake." from a real bomb.

Mad Jay 03 April 2014 09:12 PM

Why not just drop pamphlets?

GenYus234 03 April 2014 11:16 PM

They were needed for all of the un-potty trained infants in the UK?

Because that doesn't provide the one-upmanship that is the core of the story.

ganzfeld 04 April 2014 01:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ASL (Post 1813427)
Why would you waste payload capacity and risk pilots' lives in the process?

It wasn't that much of a risk because on that day all the anti-aircraft guns were loaded with wooden bullets that said "we see your wood and raise you wood".

Richard W 04 April 2014 09:10 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by GenYus234 (Post 1813405)
The linked article has pictures of a wooden bomb that says "Wood for Wood" in paint that looks remarkably clean for being 60+ years old.

There's a picture of the airman holding that bomb further down, and it actually says in the caption that it's a "mock-up". (The original caption on the picture of dummy says that some of them are reconstructions too, but not which ones).

I guess they might have used real wooden bombs for target practice? Easier to see exactly where they hit, and less risk to people on the ground. Certainly dummy bombs must have been used, and wood seems a reasonable thing to make them from since metal would have been needed for real bombs.


(eta) The actual Wood for Wood story doesn't make much sense though - part of the point of a dummy airfield is to distract the enemy from real missions. If they wasted a mission dropping wooden bombs on it, the side with the airfield would be more likely to think "Hooray, it worked!" than "Curses, foiled!"... I notice that the German pilot's version of the story includes the idea that all the lovely wood that they'd been given by the Allies was useful to them as a material, too.

Troberg 04 April 2014 09:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ASL (Post 1813427)
If you figure out that the other side is engaging in deception (decoy airplanes) why would you let them know you know? Why would you waste payload capacity and risk pilots' lives in the process?

That assumes that it was an officially sanctioned mission. Chances are that it was just a few pilots acting on their own initiative.

Read Chuck Yeager's book (the name of which I can't remember right now), and you'll see that, especially during the later part of the war, allied fighter pilots roamed pretty much freely and attacked targets of opportunity. I can easily imagine a few of them getting the idea in their head to put some wooden bombs on their aircraft to "show those Germans they can't fool us!".

RichardM 04 April 2014 03:36 PM

Just a point, practice bombs have to weigh the same as real bombs. Otherwise, they don't carry as far so the practice isn't very instructive. Bombs are dropped from from moving airplanes and where they land is affected by their density and wind resistance.

snopes 04 April 2014 03:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Troberg (Post 1813556)
Read Chuck Yeager's book (the name of which I can't remember right now), and you'll see that, especially during the later part of the war, allied fighter pilots roamed pretty much freely and attacked targets of opportunity. I can easily imagine a few of them getting the idea in their head to put some wooden bombs on their aircraft to "show those Germans they can't fool us!".

Read William Shirer's book (Berlin Diary), and you'll see that he made a contemporaneous diary entry reporting his hearing this very story in November 1940 -- several years before the end of the war, and long before the dating of the accounts given by "witnesses" in Pierre-Antoine Courable's book.


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