Death Rays, Doodlebugs and Churchill’s Golden Goose
The thought of Secret Weapons conjures up visions of the Germans making the V for Vengeance weapons. Those weapons are in this book, so are secrets like the plot to feminize Adolf Hitler by spraying his vegetables with female hormones, or bats delivering incendiary bombs to Japanese cities. Do things like this whet your appetite for more? This book is for you.
The Death Ray mentioned in the title dates back to the time of Archimedes and the story of him focusing the sun’s rays on a Roman fleet and sinking that fleet thereby saving the city of Syracuse in 212 B.C. The next claim for the invention of a death ray surfaced in 1924, when Edwin Scott laid claim to have developed a death ray. The most famous claim was that of Nikola Tesla in the 1930’s, yet none of the claimants ever produced a working Death Ray.
The Doodlebug is the nickname given to the pulse jet powered V-1 drone. RAF pilots who were sent out to shoot them down gave this nickname to the craft. The first of Hitler’s “Vengeance” weapons was responsible for some 23,000 deaths in London during the war.
Churchills Golden Goose was the name given to the Bletchley Park Code and Cypher School where the Ultra project was put into operation. Ultra was based on the Enigma machine, which was developed by the Germans as a commercial code machine in the 1920’s. The Poles before the beginning of World War II carried out the original decryption of the Enigma. They provided the British with their findings when the threats from Germany pointed to an invasion. The Polish cryptographers were interrogated by the Gestapo, but never divulged that they had broken the machine.
There is a chapter on the “research” carried on by German, Japanese, American and British doctors. The Germans and Japanese carried on their experiments on POW’s and other captives. The British and Americans on convicts and other “volunteers”
Some of the weirder ideas that were explored under the heading of “secrets” included the incendiary bats, pigeon guided bombs, and a device called the Panjandrum for exploding mines on landing beaches.
Many of the ideas and devices detailed in this volume you may have heard of from various sources. This book details the history of these devices and the development of ideas which were implemented or discarded in the efforts to get “a leg up” on the enemy.
Coverage of the development of the rocket as a offensive weapon is rather extensive, as is the development of the Atomic Bomb. Research was carried on by the Germans, Americans and relatively unknown, the Japanese.
I recommend this book to any reader who has an interest in the history of weapon development. Also if you are interested in the development of radar, the atom bomb, rocket planes and the decrypting of codes, this book will be a source of many revelations.
This book is available from Osprey Publications.
This book is available in three different formats and they are;