RUPERTS were unknown to me until I saw something on the TV about their use in the Second World War. Fascinated I thought I would delve a little deeper.
Ruperts were an English "weapon" of this war.
They were not a weapon as such but rather represented "pretend" numbers of armed personnel dropping from the sky.
Used to aid the British war effort they worked well.
However they were not a British invention.
In 1940 the German used Paradummies to try and out fox their opponents. During the Battle of the Netherlands and Belgium they used Paradummies which were almost like puppets. They were filled with straw and often dozens would be thrown out of the German planes. This was done at a time when it would instill fear in those on the ground.
The Germans used these dummies later on in the war.
It has been reported that they appeared so realistic that troops below would abandon their posts pretty sharpish.
The British form of these dummies may have the very British name of Rupert given to them but they were actually made in the USA.
Great Britain used Ruperts in 1940 during some offensive actions. In 1942 they were employed again,. This time to cause a distraction during the British invasion of Madagascar, Africa.
On D-Day, in Normandey, France, Ruperts dropped at night helped those on the ground win through.
This Normandy drop was called Operation Titanic. At this time June 6, 1944 a force of 40 planes, Hudsons, Halifaxes and Stirlings, dropped a total of 500 dummies in four separate locations. 500 helped swell the number of actual troops invading. During an invasion by the parachute regiment Ruperts made the force appear much larger.
Ruperts may not have been able to fight or do anything in reality but they could scare the enemy.
In order to make the Ruperts more realistic rifle fire simulators and two teams of Special Air Service soldiers, six men in total, were also dropped. These teams carried recordings of loud battle noises which added to the realism of the dummies.
The Ruperts were only small, around 2 foot 9 inches in length. When they hit the ground they exploded and burst into flames, supposedly leaving the enemy baffled and worried. This is why only a few Ruperts remain today. Examples can be found in some UK museums.
In 2009 one that failed to detonate in WWII was sold at an auction in Germany.
Later in the 20th Century paradummies were used by other countries, such as the US in the Vietnam War.
However. only in the UK could a paradummy be called a RUPERT.