My father in law and the incendiary bomb

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by AlienFTM, Mar 10, 2011.

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  1. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    FIL must have been about 17 when the war ended. Last weekend, Zero Alpha was talking to him on the phone about a great+ grandfather she'd found.

    He changed the subject and started talking to her about, late in the war, finding an unexploded incendiary bomb after a raid. Being a teenager of the 40s, he promptly took it apart (after all, they were built to cause damage, not to kill bomb-disposers). I hasten to point out that well into his 80s he hasn't changed.

    Inside the bomb, he found a piece of stiff paper or card, covered with some sort of foreign, probably Cyrillic writing on it, wedged in the mechanism. He took the card to the police and never heard a dicky more about it.

    Seventy years on, it occurs to him to wonder whether there might have been a message from a slave labourer on it, or whether they just used anything they could find to render U/S the munitions they were forced to build.

    Zero Alpha issued an order that I ask the question here.

    Anyone got any thoughts? (Other than, "Wasn't your FIL a typical ******** teenager?"
  2. Its an oft repeated story - slave labourers sabotaging munitions and/or sticking notes in dud bombs - but I'm not sure how much veracity there is in the tales circulating in UK. I think a generous fraction of these stories are typical wartime urban myth, fuelled by certain media tales.

    Many survivors of the Nazi regime indicate that they focussed on staying alive, rather than trying to undermine the axis war effort. Sabotage would - if detected - have resulted in the mass punishment/execution of workers, so there was a considerable deterrent to trying it on. One would think that with munitions there would be a very high chance of notes, etc, being detected during routine inspections/ handling/ arming.

    One of the French Resistance museums has few "slave labourer notes recovered from dud bombs" on display but, given the huge volume of Resistance relics compared to the operational history, one wonders about the veracity of some of the items..
  3. Ooooh...think what you could have been implying there 4(T)! The gloire de la resistance impugned by a perfidious ros-bif? Not cricket. We all know that there was no Second World War in France. There was merely the Campaign of 1940 and then the Liberation of 1944.

    As for the large amount of resistants who cropped up later than 1944...well the Frenchman is a man of passion, a man of the physical senses. he doesn't have time for dotting "is" and crossing "ts" on paperwork. They all meant to sign on the dotted line with the Maquis but somehow, they were too busy with getting on with it.
  4. Cuddles, there is a saying that there are two things you will never find in post-war Europe - a German who was a Nazi and a Frenchman who wasn't in the Resistance!
  5. Your FiL was no worse than my Old Man, who was discovered taking a hammer to the end of a bomb that turned-up in his garden near Sevenoaks.
  6. I think that whole generation had a go. My father and his brothers & friends used to put aircraft cannon shells in a vise and then set them off with a hammer and nail. They also used to dismantle incendiaries and other cannon shells in order to make "fireworks". Prior to D-Day, they had a real bonanza in nicking weapons and ammo natures from the millions of crates dumped alongside the roads in southern England. Remarkably, their only casualty was one of the brothers, who eventually lost a finger...
  7. Especially in Alsace!
  8. Saw a Yank programme on some obscure freeview channel a few months back about the restoration of a German 'big cat'; pretty sure it was a Tiger I but might have been a Panther or Tiger II. Anyway, in the course of the restoration it was discovered that the tank had been sabotaged during construction; screw heads ground off, bolts stripped etc. The head restoration chap did a piece to camera about how in later models it was an incredibly common to discover.

    On a related note, I'll never forget a story told by a Holocaust survivor who visited my school. He had been put to work in an aircraft factory and the SS discovered widespread sabotage. They chose 50 slave-labourers at random and hanged them with wire nooses from the bottom of a hydraulic lift - that is, by strangulation rather than 'drop'. We were told that the sabotage continued.
  9. jim24

    jim24 Book Reviewer

    Cigarette butts in hydraulic oil pipes,sand and metal scarf in bearings, were a major problem in German tanks, In Max Hastings book "Das Reich" it states that 2nd SS preferred Maybach HL230P30 PzKwV Panther, engines made under license by MAN than the notoriously unreliable version made by Daimler Benz with slave labour,
  10. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    Great. Thanks for that. I'll tell the FIL he's a found-a-message-from-a-slave-labourer-who-sabotaged-a-German-munition walt.

  11. I remember visiting in the early 70's, an important French supplier to my company who had some factories in the Pas de Calais, I was informed by the English Sales manager that the owner was a personal friend of De Gaulle & had decorations for his service in the resistance in the war!
    He also explained that he was an approved supplier to the German occupation forces during the war and did very well out of it, quite how the two activities mixed I'll never know!
  12. Renee managed it okay. The cafe was the perfect cover for his activities.
  13. I wonder if this is the 'other end' of the story recounted by Hermann Buchner in his book Stormbird. During his spell as a test pilot, the 109 he was flying suffered a catastrophic engine failure and after bailing out he was badly injured by his heavy landing on the roof of a munitions factory. When he came round in hospital he was grilled by the Gestapo who wanted to know why he and a number of colleagues who had been flying at the same time, had all abandoned or deliberately crashed valuable aircraft. It was later found to be the result of sabotage.
  14. I can't remember the name but there's a pub in London that took a direct hit from a bomb that didn't explode. The EOD boys had a go at it and there was in fact a note in there and then warhead was full of sawdust / mud etc. They've still got the note and some bits of the bomb on display.

    T C
  15. Somthing like 1 in six of our bombs failed to explode. My gran made fuses for them at Ferranti during the war. Do you think she may have been a nazi. She didn't like gracie fields either!