Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Strange Objects in the Dutch Sky

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    1,309
    Thanks
    19
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts

    Default Strange Objects in the Dutch Sky

    Hi all

    An unusual one, which I hope someone might be able to help me with...

    On 24 December 1944, 41 Squadron was operating temperarily out of Eindhoven. During the afternoon, a pilot was making a a sweep from Eindhoven to Venlo and made quite an unusual sighting. An Opflash from 125 Wing to GCC (Group Captain Commanding?) states,

    "At 1540 hrs at 10,000 ft south of Eindhoven whilst climbing through cloud passed through large number of objects which appeared to be cardboard boxes with one side out. Size 9 x 4 x 2 ins. Pilot estimates number at 100,000 says, flying at 180 m.p.h. took him one minute to pass through. Later same pilot whilst returning to base saw same objects floating in air at 7,000 ft. near Neerpelt (K.3896)."

    On another patrol by 41 Squadron that same day, a mid-afternoon sweep to the Venlo area by six aircraft, the pilots sighted "sheets of paper, possibly window", floating through the air, which they felt may have been conical or small parachutes. This was just west of Eindhoven at 15:31.

    Could someone give me a basic explanation, please, of what "window" was and what forms it took? Was it made of paper, in conical or parachute shapes, and it is possible that the earlier sighting of "cardboard boxes with the side out" was related?

    Does anyone know who might have been using window over the Netherlands on the afternoon of 24 December 1944, or suggest what the cardboard boxes might have been, please?

    Lastly, I can't locate "Neerpelt" in my BeNeLux Atlas. Can anyone suggest what this location may actually be?

    Thanks
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Aubers, France
    Posts
    2,382
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    hello Steve,

    "Window" was the code name of the radar jamming pieces of alumium foils dropped by R.A.F. bombers to jam the German radars. First used in July 1943 during the raids against Hamburg. We had a recent discussion on this board about 2 or 3 weeks ago, when a forumite remembered picking up some around London.

    It could have been leaflets, or bundles of leaflets. Leaflets were usually dropped by bombers, but quite a big proportion were sent by balloons. But if my memory serves me well, the allied stopped or reduced the use of balloons after the liberation of the occupied countries, around september 1944.

    Joss

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Reading, Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    3,645
    Thanks
    3
    Thanked 14 Times in 14 Posts

    Default

    Steve,
    Neerpelt is about 15 miles S of Eindhoven just across the Dutch/Belgian border (Google Earth).
    Joss,
    Lyffe (Brian) will know when the UK Met Office ceased producing Balloon Forecasts for the disemmination of propaganda leaflets. He's not been on the circuit for a couple of days - so if he doesn't see this I'll jog his elbow on Monday!
    HTH
    Peter Davies
    Meteorology is a science; good meteorology is an art!
    We might not know - but we might know who does!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    1,309
    Thanks
    19
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts

    Default

    Thanks Joss and Peter

    I had a look at the 'Window' discussion on the board, which provided some information, and had a look around the 'net, but found it difficult to find many pictures or anything that compared to what 41 Squadron saw.

    I think the 'sheets of paper' were most likely Window, and as some appear to have been formed into a V-shape, this would account for the impression that they may have been conical or small parachutes.

    In fact, there was a daylight raid this day on the airfields at Lohausen and Mülheim by 248 Halifaxes, 79 Lancasters and 11 Mosquitos, which are roughly northeast of Diest, and could well have been on the fight path.

    What still has me confused, though, is the 100,000 "objects which appeared to be cardboard boxes with one side out. Size 9 x 4 x 2 ins.". Window appears to have been strips of aluminium, and I cannot find reference to anthing similar to this shape.

    Thanks also for the location of Neepelt - I now find it's on the map, but not in the index!

    Regards
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Toronto
    Posts
    1,231
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    My impression on first reading this was that the crews were dropping the leaflets or window "boxes and all". I know from my newspaper days when there were flyers to be distributed, delivery boys often got the bright idea to dump the whole bundle at once and scamper off all the quicker. This reminded me of the same thing.
    David

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Aubers, France
    Posts
    2,382
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    hello,

    I've read in several places that some crewmen didn't bother to cut the string wrapping up the leaflets, and dropped the bundles this way, argumenting this would do more harm to the Germans ! Could this have also happened with "window" ? I'm not sure, as by this time, the crews knew how important it was for their own safety.

    I agree the description doesn't closely match with what Steve has given, and is not fully satisfying.

    Joss

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Wiltshire
    Posts
    2,514
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts

    Default

    Coming in a bit late on this after Peter gave me a nudge. The short answer is that I don't know when balloons stopped being used to deliver leaflets for propaganda purposes, but I have a niggle at the back of my mind this has been discussed previously on RAFC. However, a bit of Googling resulted in the following:

    1. A list of NA files dealing specifically with propaganda leaflets

    http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=WW_II_Propaganda_Leaflets

    2. A short, but interesting reference to RAF leaflet drops during July 1943
    http://www.reelingwrithing.com/holocaust/pack/157-158.pdf

    3. An excellent collection of photos showing various ways of delivering leaflets from WW1 onwards

    http://www.psywar.co.uk/photos.php

    4. See also

    http://www.psywar.co.uk/leaflets.php

    None of this answers your original question Steve, but was the location where these were seen over Allied or enemy territory?

    Brian

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Aubers, France
    Posts
    2,382
    Thanks
    0
    Thanked 3 Times in 3 Posts

    Default

    hello,

    I posted from memory, from the following book "Ballons at war" by John Christopher, published by Tempus.

    Operation Outward comprised balloons with devices such as trailing wires or incendiary cans. Outward was started in the spring of 1942. I quote from the book, page 125 "By the time Outward was terminated in September 1944, it was estimated that almost 100,000 balloons had been launched.
    The leaflet dropping balloons actually predate Outward, the idea being "dusted off" in 1938 and started operationnally on the night of October the 1st 1939. The unit responsible for them was disbanded in July 1945.

    I'm still not satisfied with this explanation.

    Could it have been the cargo from a Dakota or a York which managed somehow to "evade" from the plane, the cargo door opening in flight, or something like that ?

    Joss

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Berkshire
    Posts
    2,210
    Thanks
    1
    Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts

    Default

    Hi Steve
    Joss may have a point with the "cargo" idea. I can't visualise at the moment just where the front line was in the Eindhoven/Nijmegen area but we are in the weeks following Market Garden and it could even have been an enemy a/c or one of our transports jettisoning a load for it's own safety. I think the strips used for Window were carefully cut to be 1/2 or 1/4 of the wavelength of the frequency they were meant to interfere with and with some of the metric radars even a full wavelength
    Regards
    Dick

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Brisbane
    Posts
    1,309
    Thanks
    19
    Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts

    Default

    Hi Brian, Joss and Dick

    Thanks for your responses and links; more good sources to check on, thanks.

    Brian - to answer your query, the location was behind Allied lines, though not too far north / north-east of the 'Bulge', so comparatively not far from the front line. Nonetheless, it was in Allied lines, which would suggest propaganda leaflets are less likely.

    Dick - From what I understand, the front line was to the east of Eindhoven, but still to the north of Nijmegen. This was the reason for the Ardennes Offensive. Whilst German troops were to the north and east, the 'Battle of the Bulge' was designed to race to the coast at Antwerp and encircle Allied troops, mainly the Brits under Monty, on three sides, with their backs to the coast (Dunkirk revisted!). The point was to then use the encircled troops as a bargaining chip to sue for peace on German terms and save Germany from complete destruction. Nonetheless, the sighting of the 'boxes' was still well over Allied territory. (See also http://www.privateletters.net/MAPS/ETO/69_AlliedOperationsAgainsttheWestWall(8November-15December1944).bmp)

    The only other thought would be someone dumping the boxes on the return journey from a leaflet drop over German territory, but why would you do such a thing? On the other hand, 41 Squadron was suggesting there were around 100,000 of them, which strikes me as a little excessive for boxes of propaganda leaflets. Besides that, there's no mention of them hitting the aircraft and the pilot was supposedly flying through the middle of them for a whole minute. I would have thought a leaflet box hitting a propeller would have a similar effect on an aircraft as a bird-strike or similar...?

    And the size, 9 inches x 4 inches x 2 inches, strikes me as an unusual size for a box for propaganda leaflets. Hey, I could be completely wrong, and am happy to be corrected, but this thing really has me stumped.

    The report I am referring to is an original telex, which I've held in my hands. It's an official document, not a man's account, per se.

    Thanks for your help to try to work this out guys
    Steve
    41 (F) Squadron RAF at War and Peace, April 1916-March 1946
    http://brew.clients.ch/41sqnraf.htm

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •