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Thread: Beer bottle countermeasures against the Kammhuber Line

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    Default Beer bottle countermeasures against the Kammhuber Line

    Just wanted to share this tidbit from my current reading. In a reminiscence about the Kammhuber Line, Air Marshal Sir John Slessor wrote in his memoir Central Blue (1957):

    "It really was a beastly thing to get through, and the impression had taken firm hold in [5 Group] that a few beer bottles tossed overboard had a disturbing effect on the accuracy of the searchlights. The boys had convinced themselves that the major villains of the piece were a number of 'master' searchlights, radar-controlled and with a sinister blue tinge, which were always the first to pick them up and upon which scores of other lights then concentrated; and nothing would persuade them that an empty bottle had not some effect in 'foxing' the master light. A few empty beer bottles had therefore become part of the battle equipment of the rear-gunner in his cold and lonely turret."

    Although Slessor says he doubted the practice had any effect, he gave orders to a boffin named G.A. Roberts not to pour scorn on the idea, "even if there was nothing whatever in it, the boys thought there was, and it gave them a warm feeling."

    "Roberts attended several interrogations of crews returning from Germany and played up well, showing no incredulity at the stories of the way the master lights had faltered and fallen away in the face of the faithful beer bottle. This rather Heath-Robinson counter-measure no doubt was relegated to obscurity by the later development of 'window', but to the end of my time in 5 Group the beer bottle remained a highly regarded piece of operational equipment."

    (p374)
    David

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    Default What a cracking story!

    I'm sure there was no shortage of volunteers at "creating" supplies for this purpose, either!

    Jeff

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    Good one, Jeff! I certainly hope that other superstitious practice of peeing on the tail wheel wasn't connected in any way. I'm sure his mates wouldn't appreciate it if the rear-gunner was emptying the bottles - and then his bladder - in the name of countermeasures.

    Or perhaps the crew were covering for him and peeing together to give him an alibi.
    David

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    During his tour with 50 Squadron on Hampdens my father and his crew mates often tossed beer bottles over the side in the belief that the wind over the mouth of the falling bottle made a whistling sound similar to a falling bomb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Layne View Post
    During his tour with 50 Squadron on Hampdens my father and his crew mates often tossed beer bottles over the side in the belief that the wind over the mouth of the falling bottle made a whistling sound similar to a falling bomb.
    I was a member of an all Australian crew on the 458 Sqdn RAAF in Italy before being transferred to 38 Sqdn RAF.
    Members of both these squadrons told me of this practice being carried out but I don't know if the whistling ever occurred. The targets were German E-Boats carrying supplies to the struggling German army in the latter stages of the war.

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    Default Peeing together?

    Dave [Fuller]

    LOL

    I suspect the crew would have been somewhat more preoccupied than to be standing around p***ing about like that! :-)

    Can you imagine: "Oh never mind the nightfighters or the flak or the searchlights or the risk of collisions or finding the aiming point and releasing the bombs or the risk of being bombed from above, let's all get together and pee". Ummm ... Nah!

    And there wouldn't be room for the rear gunner to 'release himself' from the confines of his turret either.

    Then there'd be the danger of frostbite!

    LOL2

    Ian

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    I'm sure one of the fellows in the second recording down on this page:

    http://www.lancastered627.shaunmcguire.co.uk/intercom.htm

    says something about "there goes my bottle."

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    Hi Ian,

    I was kidding about connecting the two things, but they were both real. The practice of peeing on the tail wheel took place before takeoff and has been well documented.
    David

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    I'm sure in one of the early Biggles books, his camel squadron ran out of bombs. So Sq L Bigglesworth strapped a crate of empty champagne bottles ( well come on guys it was the Royal Flying Corp!!) under his Sopwith and set out for the German airbase.

    It was a thumping good show - what!
    An American airman, was told at Briefing to ‘Go in at 30,000 feet and keep out of the flak.”
    “If I go in a 20,000 feet, what will happen?’ asked the airman.
    “You’ll probably be mentioned in despatches”, answered the officer.
    “If I go in at 10,000 feet ?“ he asked.
    “In that case you will probably get the Congress Medal”, he was told.
    "And if I go in at 5,000 feet?’ he inquired excitedly.
    “Don’t be a fool, man”, replied his superior, “you’ll go and bump into the R.A.F. at that height.”

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    Default Whistling Bottle

    This early attempt to disrupt the German search light defences has been documented in WAR IN THE ETHER, a typescript issued by HQ Signals Branch, Bomber Command in October 1945.

    "Before the use of anything electrical a non-radio countermeasure had been introduced, which - alas for posterity - never recieved one of those peculiar code-names always bestowed upon subsequent R.C.M. devices. This was the whistling bottle, designed to irritate and confuse the enemy sound-locators, which were associated with searchlights in the German night defence system. It was discovered by aircrews that if empty bottles (beer or milk, according to taste) were dropped over the searchlights, they would dowse, due in their opinion to the noise-interference caused by the bottles as they fell."

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