We already have discussed all kinds of battles, tactics and situations, but this one is particularly interesting. During WW2, in a continuous race for new solutions to apply against the enemy, the British troops ended having an unexpected ally named “Rupert”. In fact, Rupert was a dummy or a “Para dummy”, considering that its role was to be parachuted. Rupert, and his several hundred brothers, had the mission to confuse the enemy, engaging their attention in “fake spots”, so meanwhile the allied troops were able to land safe. The “Ruperts’” were deployed above the occupied Europe, and they were designed to go up in flames once landed, in order to confuse even more the enemy, leaving no evidence behind.
The doll was made from cloth and filled with sand. Even if their size was considerably smaller than the size of a man, if spotted from the ground they looked lifelike, especially when dropped by night. Considering their combustion system, very few examples or even parts of those remained at history disposal. Hard but not impossible, because something incredible happened. A woman from Britain, while sorting her late grandparents belongings, found something that seemed a toy, but it wasn’t exactly a toy. She had the luck to find a pristine ”Rupert”, together with RAF maps belonging to a special task team, which had the mission to record the results of the Royal Naval bombardment on the German lines, during D-Day. Around 500 hundred Ruperts were dropped over France on D-Day. Nobody knows how the one found by the woman, made it back on the route Normandy – Britain.
The other known Ruperts, come from a batch discovered in the ‘70s, but we could say they were standard version, if we consider the maps found with the one discovered by the lucky lady.
Rupert had also a short acting career, being featured in ”The Longest Day”, a classic film from 1962, presenting the D-Day moment. Beside Rupert, there was also his American brother, named Oscar. It was an US experiment developed after Rupert, considerably different in materials and form. Oscar was improved in the coming years, and deployed also in Vietnam or Afghanistan. Even “Oscar” was built in miniaturized size, because they were easier to transport by plane, and they did they job anyway, considering that when you spot an object high up in the sky, you don’t have a proper scale reference about it.
The Rupert found by the British woman, it’s particularly important because of its participation to the D-Day operations, unlike the other known Para dummies, which are leftovers or coming from unused stocks.
The “combat Rupert” found in the piles of old stuff from an elder’s home, probably saw action during “Operation Titanic”, which was carried by the Royal Air Force and the SAS (Special Air Service). Together with the dummies, were frequently dropped also other devices, like rifle fire simulators and battle sounds simulators. All this equipment was dropped from Hudson, Stirlings or Halifax aircrafts. An interesting fact is that the idea for the Ruperts, began after the Germans used similar dummies in the Netherlands, during 1940.