Tuesday, October 20, 2015

World War One camouflage

A soon-to-be-published book lifts the veil on camouflage techniques and other secrets of World War I.

It contains pictures, reports and anecdotes from the archives of the Imperial War Museum.  The Telegraph reports:

They may not appear to be the most sophisticated of tactics. No-one, however, could argue the unusual methods of First World War soldiers to thwart the enemy were not at least innovative.

The weird and wonderful tricks adopted by servicemen to baffle the opposition have been discovered in the archives of the Imperial War Museum, from dressing up as a tree stump to painting their ponies to look like zebras.

A parachuting pigeon, intended to be dropped to agents behind enemy lines

Pictures show how soldiers made papier mache heads and cardboard cut-out soldiers as decoys, while others attempted to train seagulls to aim their droppings down the enemy’s periscope.

Royal Engineers were tasked with building dummy servicemen, as snipers were adorned with foliage to camouflage them in the field and animals were trained for all manner of bizarre missions.

A camouflaged Turkish sniper captured in the Middle East

And while many will be familiar with stories of pigeons being parachuted into occupied territory to help carry messages home, they may be surprised to hear of plans to decorate sea lions with luminous paint to swarm submarines.

The photographs and artifacts, plucked from miles of archives belonging to the museum, will next month be published in a new book, Weird War One, intended to detail the “downright eccentric” elements of the war.

There's more at the link.

I think I've found a new book to put on my shopping list . . . a shoal of luminous-paint-covered sealions pursuing a U-boat, with her captain peering back at them through the periscope and shouting "Achtung! Sealion!", sounds too funny to be true!


1 comment:

Larry said...

The cover picture, of course, isn't camouflage, it's small-scale sound detection. Mostly, they were larger ground-mounted arrays of "earhorns" used to detect aircraft or to help triangulate artillery battery positions for counter-battery fire. But as John Donovan of Castle Arrgh! described it, these Imperial Germans look like early iterations of the NSA...