Illustrations Reveal Nazi Boobytraps Disguised as Everyday Objects
These recently rediscovered World War II–era illustrations look more like something from a spy movie than a history book. The 25-odd drawings depict sneaky German bombs disguised as common items, meant to be used against the British during World War II. One illustration shows an army mess tin with an explosive lurking beneath the bangers and mash. Another shows a bar of chocolate that detonates once a piece is broken off—a device rumored to be part of an assassination plot against Winston Churchill.
The illustrations were commissioned by Britain’s MI5 counter-sabotage unit during the war. The unit consisted of just three members: scientist Victor Rothschild, his secretary and eventual wife Teresa Georgina Mayor and police detective inspector Donald Fish. Fish’s son Laurence had experience drafting technical illustrations for Alvis cars before the war, so Rothschild hired him to document these booby-trapped objects. They were meant to serve as a guide for anyone who might need to disarm similar devices in the future.
For the past 70 years, the drawings were thought to be lost for good. They were just recently rediscovered in a chest of drawers by Rothschild’s family members as they were cleaning out their home in the UK. They have since been sent to the artist’s widow, Jean Bray, and she hopes the illustrations will soon find a home in an archive or museum.