Thursday, March 8, 2012

Bombed With Mail

Operation Cornflakes was a World War II Office of Strategic Services PSYOP mission which involved tricking the German postal service into inadvertently delivering anti-Nazi propaganda to German citizens.

Some leaflets had been airdropped previously, but weather and counter-intelligence had diverted many before they could reach their intended audience. Now the Allies would use the Reich's postal system itself as a means of distribution.

Sergeant Nick Los loads a fake
German mailbag into a leaflet bomb. 
Every aspect of the German postal system was replicated, down to the smallest details. OSS operatives across Europe prepared the materials. Groups in England and Switzerland printed propaganda letters and forged stamps. A group in Rome printed envelopes with more than two million legitimate names and addresses. Even proper cancellations were applied.

When all the materials were ready, loaded mail bags were handed over to the 15th Army Air Force, which was given the task of delivering them behind enemy lines.

The mail bags were stuffed into specially constructed bomb casings, fitted with detonator caps linked to a control in the cockpit. The pilots could push a button to eject the bags, leaving the bomb canister on board so the Germans wouldn't be alerted to the drop.

After allied fighter-bombers would attack leaving the derailed train and its cargo of mail scattered over the area, then a second wave of bombers would drop fresh mail bags around the train.

Cleaning up the mess caused by the attack, German postal workers recovered the bags and delivered their contents - unaware of the materials hidden within.

Photo used with permission of Sergeant Major Herbert Friedman from the website:


Anonymous said...

That was actually an interesting story...thanks

Robert said...

Fascinating, thanks for posting this.

Anonymous said...

Stories like this are very interesting. I started looking into my grandfather's Army Air Force history recently. Since he passed away at a young age, no one got to hear the stories, it is great to learn about the history of the mail through stories like this.