Breaking News
British Forces Net says this photo has circulated for years

Did Allied Pilots Punk the Germans by Dropping Fake Bombs on Fake Airfields in WWII?

Share this article

Did Allied forces really drop a fake wooden bomb as a joke on German forces in World War II?

A story that is often retold by fans of military history has it that German forces built decoy fake wooden airfields to deceive enemy pilots – and that Allied forces, on learning of the plot, retaliated by dropping fake wooden bombs as a joke.

The tale goes that the Germans meticulously built a fake airfield in occupied Holland, complete with hangars, oil tanks, gun emplacements, vehicles and aircraft – all made out of wood – in an effort to fool pilots of the RAF and Allied forces into targeting the decoy instead of real airfields located elsewhere in the vicinity.

Stories that have now become entrenched in urban legend suggest that the German forces took such a long time to complete the project, that Allied reconnaissance pilots had ample time to observe what was happening, take photos of the fake wooden airfield, and report back to headquarters.

The legend suggests that, on learning of the fake airfield, a Royal Air Force aircraft decided to cross the Channel, and circle the fake airfield, before dropping a large wooden bomb with “Wood For Wood” written on it – perhaps as a joke to wind up the enemy or to let the enemy know that Allied forces were on to their decoy plot.

Away from the internet rumour mill, anecdotal evidence that lends weight to the story and gives credence to the notion that fake bombing raids may well have been carried out by Allied forces on fake German decoys.

Author and historian Pierre-Antoine Courouble researched the story for a documentary, ‘Wood For Wood’, and his book ‘The Riddle Of The Wooden Bombs’ in which he examined whether the dropping of so-called fake bombs was a serious act of psychological warfare or simply some lighthearted humour to lift the spirits of young pilots during the dark days of the Second World War.  

The author collected some 303 testimonies from former soldiers, members of the Resistance, military personnel or pilots including what is perhaps the most convincing account of such a story happening from Lt Col (Retd) Werner Thiel. 

Lt Col (Retd) Werner Thiel, a young Luftwaffe pilot in 1943, claimed he saw the dropping of wooden bombs on a fake airfield near Potsdam. Speaking in December 2010 about his memories, Lt Col (Retd) Thiel said:  

“At the end of October 1943, there was a general warning that we activated the light beacons and moved the aircraft from the fictitious airfield.  

“We had a dozen fake planes made of wood, plywood, canvas and ropes.  

“There was only a roar and no explosion. In the morning we left cautiously, fearing time bombs.  

“And here we didn’t believe our eyes.  

Courouble asks Lt Col (Retd) Thiel what he thought at the time to which he replies, saying: 

“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’.”

Adapted from Forces Net.

About Soldier of Fortune Magazine

Check Also

‘We Knew They Weren’t Coming Back’: Vietnam’s Brutal ‘Nine Days in May’ Border Battles

Share this article “We weren’t Special Forces or Airborne. We were mostly just a bunch …