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Date: Sat, 29 Jan 2000 16:43:43 -0800 (PST)
From: Hans Moonen, via Bruce Sterling
Dead medium: Leaflet grenades and the Monroe bomb

(((bruces remarks: the Dutch collector Hans Moonen has the largest archive of propaganda leaflets that I've ever seen. The "Monroe bomb" and propaganda grenades are new to me, but he seems very well-informed.)))

"That the Americans saw the importance of psychological warfare can be seen from the fact that Captain James Monroe of the USAAF invented a bomb for the spreading of leaflets.

"The so-called Monroe bomb was taken into service. This bomb consisted of a paperboard cylinder in which up to 80,000 leaflets could fit. These bombs were dropped like normal bombs. A small detonator caused the cylinder to open at any given height. The leaflets were spread over a large area. All makes of bombers were used: American Flying fortresses B-17 and later B-24. Ten of these bombs fitted exactly in the bomb bay of a B-17.

"The picture shows a ground crew loading the Monroe bombs into a B-17. In England, over 75,000 Monroe bombs were produced. The only thing was that on (some very few) missions a bomb didn't open. That's why unopened Monroe bombs were found in Holland sometimes. Even 25 years after the war the Dutch bomb disposal had to dig up one still filled with, tightly packed, readable leaflets!

"I want to ask any visitor if they could help me to get original manuals (US / GB / German or other) for this kind of leaflet-drop related equipment (bombs, shells, balloons etc.). (...)

"The shelling method

"For short range combat propaganda, another technique was used: the shooting of leaflets with artillery grenades. This method was often used in North-Africa (1942/43) and after D-day on the front in Europe.

"For this purpose, smoke grenades were used. The smoke-cartridge was removed and replaced by small rolls of up to 400 leaflets. The British used a lot of 25 pounder grenades. See the picture of a unit filling grenades with leaflets. (The picture was taken in the vicinity of my hometown in the south of the Netherlands; I also know what leaflet is being filled here).

"The Americans used lots of 105 and 155 mm howitzer grenades in a similar way. A time fuse caused the grenade's explosive charge to expel the leaflets in air over enemy trenches. The firing of the gun often 'pushed together' the leaflets in the grenade which causes a very characteristic folding pattern on the leaflets. Also the expelling charge often burned parts of the leaflets. That's why those leaflets are mostly in a bad condition if seen on expositions.

"Nowadays still sometimes unexploded leaflet grenades are being found filled with readable leaflets.

Hans Moonen Copyright 1998; J.M.J.M. Moonen, Bernhardstraat 5, 6081 EN, Haelen, The Netherlands.

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