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The Falling Leaf Online - The Quarterly Journal of the PsyWar Society
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"Bomber" Harris Says... A letter written by Air Chief Marshal A.T.Harris, 25 March 1942;

Sagacity Sam. A character featured on a series of German propaganda leaflets; but does anyone know if he existed or where the character originated?

German Pornographic Leaflets. Psychological Warfare Branch secret memo dated 14 April 1945;

Far East Leaflets Coding. Psychological Warfare Division identification letters and their meaning;

Eyewitness. First hand accounts and experiences


"Bomber" Harris Says...

Psywar Society member Nick Weekes paid a visit to the Public Record Office at Kew and found a flimsy carbon copy of an original letter signed by Air Chief Marshal A.T.Harris. Dated March 25, 1942, it is quite a revealing document on his thoughts about leaflet-dropping - already well known. Addressed to Air Vice Marshal N.H.Bottomley at the Air Ministry in Whitehall, "Bomber" wrote:

"Can something now be done to curb and keep within bounds these uncorrelated and enthusiastic attempts to shower rubbish all over the world at the expense of the bomber effort.

If it takes 31 tons of nickels (code name for leaflets: Editor's note) to explain to the French why we bombed RENAULT's all I can say is that it is a pity we didn't add another 31 tons, drop them in bundles on RENAULT's, and thereby save the H.E. which it took to damage it.

When it comes to dropping tea, Christmas presents and Easter eggs, things have really gone too far. Something must now really be done to stop this growing urge of the exiled governments and individual busybodies with idle hands to play games in wartime when we are too busy on serious things.

I will not drop tea or Easter eggs anywhere unless you guarantee that the packages are lethal.

The only people likely to be affected by nickels are morons. Notoriously, morons are unable to read. The only people who are likely to get Easter eggs are the Gestapo, and why the devil should we feed them Easter eggs? How about quitting foolin' and getting on with the War? Do we want to kill Boche or merely go on larking about? These jesters are getting completely out of hand and it is high time someone put a heavy foot on them - or behind them. I'm not cross, but I damn soon will be."

Editor's comments:

Yes, tea was dropped as part of morale boosting. Small teabags weighing several grammes were dropped over various Dutch towns in 1941. The tea was a gift from the people of Dutch East Indies to the people of Holland.

"Christmas presents" and "Easter eggs" very likely refer to gifts being dropped over the Netherlands. Sweets, bon-bons and chocolate were dropped in boxes to Dutch children at St. Nicholas (Christmastide) and also, it is believed, at Eastertide.

The Falling Leaf. No. 147. Winter 1994.

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Sagacity Sam - Musings On A Leaflet

By R.Oakland

As the Allies edged towards Germany after D-Day the German "Skorpion" propaganda machine went into top gear and produced a huge variety of aerial leaflets. On the reverse of one of them (SK 438) "WHO MURDERED VICE PRESIDENT WALLACE?" is a poem. Underneath are the words "This is a poem of the famous "Sagacity Sam" - Serie(sic). Look out for the nine others".

Now, are there really ten different leaflets with Sagacity Sam poems? Perhaps, but only the gullible would believe the claims of a propaganda leaflet. It is not unknown for propagandists to try to lead their enemy counterparts on a wild goose chase! Five Sagacity Sam leaflets are known:

SK 438
(SK 442)

SAGACITY SAM SAYS:/This is a poem of the famous...

If their are others, readers are invited to send details to The Psywar Society.

SK 438 was obviously produced with the GI in mind, but it is not at all clear from the content who the rest are aimed at, the British or the Americans. Easily the most interesting of these leaflets is "Poor Jerry!" and it is worth examining this in depth.

Sagacity Sam Says...

Unlike the others it doesn't have a caricature of the old sage himself and it is produced in full colour... The name Sam has American connotations, and the image of the over-indulgent Jew is not usually used for the British. The verse's reference to "our far off land" suggests an American target. But the ghostly marchers in the background, led by the drumbeat of death, are wearing British helmets!

The girlie theme serves the propagandists' first purpose. In appealing to the natural appetites of healthy young males, it helps to ensure that the leaflet is picked up and looked at, shown around and talked about. Then the underlying message might have a chance to work. It contrasts, in bright colours, the high living of the "business bug" with the grey existence of the soldiers at the front. Even more, the beautiful girls symbolise the best in life whilst the soldiers' lot, a march towards death, is the worst.

Sagacity Sam Says propaganda leaflet

Then the propagandists thicken the brew with a dash of anti-Semitism. By depicting the war profiteer as a Jew, the Germans are not simply putting their own anti-Semitic fervour on display, but believe they are turning in to a real anti-Jewish predjudice held by the average Allied soldiers.

Now - does all this generate envy and resentment in the mind of the leaflet's reader? Sap morale, and reduce the will to fight, as the propagandists intend? Probably not! The soldier at the front will grab at anything which brightens and adds to what is for much of the time a tedious and drab existence. A raunchy picture for him to collect, as encouraged by the Vice-President Wallace leaflet, and pin up will generate interest and raise his spirits. But if it doesn't stimulate him to think, then the leaflet's creators will have failed in their attempt to influence him.

Who was Sagacity Sam? Was he simply a creation of the propagandist's imagination or was he "real"? Could he have been a columnist or a cartoon character in an American newspaper? Does anyone know?

The Falling Leaf. No. 156. Spring 1997.

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German Pornographic Leaflets

By R. Oakland

A recently discovered document refers to German rationale for the use of pornography in leaflets. Photostatic copies of the leaflets referred to in paragraph 3 were also found. They are from the AW series. The document:



14 April 1945


SUBJECT: Leaflets directed against our troops.

TO: CO PWB 7th Army.

The originals of the attached photostatic copies of pornographic enemy leaflets, directed against our troops, were found in a printshop in Kaiserslautern. No evidence was discovered that they had been fired against troops in this sector. Pornographic leaflets, it should be remembered, made their appearance during the campaign. (See earlier Documents Reports).

The following information on the use of pornography by the enemy is quoted from PW Intelligence Bulletin No. 1/54, MFIU No. 1, 3 April 1945:

"It was realized that America due to its geographic location could not prove an easy prey for the Communist bogy. Therefore, simultaneous efforts were made to turn the British and Americans against each other. The appeal here was more emotional than dialectic. Obersturmbannführer Wolfgang Erberhard Moeller, poet laureate of the Nazi poet laureates (in charge of the editorial section), considered pornography his strongest weapon in this cause. There was, however, some difficulty in convincing the OKW of the efficacy of this medium. A drawing showing a dying Tommy, enmeshed in barbed wire, and a nude woman, presumably his wife, in the clutches of a lecherous GI, was used in the summer of 1944. In another version the American soldier was a negro. After approximately 1,000,000 of these leaflets had been dropped over Allied lines the OKW prohibited further use.

A new series of pornographic leaflets along the same lines but this time in four colours were produced on Moeller's orders in January [1945] but again prohibited by the OKW. Some of these were intended to turn EM (enlisted men) against officers by contrasting the dying GI or Tommy to the nude at play with an officer. A so-called semi-pornographic series managed to escape the OKW ban was still in use when PW (Obst. Martin, Co 9441 VG Regt) left. These leaflets compared the soldier's present miserable existence with his dreams of home, again personified by the nude wife, as a clincher, showed the corpse that would be left to her unless he ceased fighting."

The Falling Leaf. No. 134. Autumn 1991.

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Far East Leaflets Coding

All material issued by the British Psychological Warfare Division bears an identification serial for easy reference and security. These reference numbers and letters are found at the bottom left-hand corner of sheets printed on one side, and at the reverse bottom left-hand corner of sheets printed on both sides. The following letters were in use close to the end of the war, and are followed by a serial number:-

Identification Letters
Hindustani newsheet
Burmese leaflet
Burmese newsheet
French leaflet
French newsheet
Hindustani leaflet
Japanese leaflet
Japanese newsheet (pictorial)
Japanese newsheet
Malayan leaflet
Malayan leaflet
Malayan newsheet
Siamese leaflet
Siamese newsheet

The Falling Leaf. No. 49. June 1970.

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"I possess what I firmly believe to be the only surviving pair of leaflets of their type in the world - dropped near Suda Bay in Crete on May 27th 1941.

On 26th the decision to evacuate the island had been confirmed and the main body of Allied troops were already moving off over the White Mountains to Sfakia on the south coast. Only the remnants of 5th New Zealand Brigade and two battalions of Australians remained to face the attacking Germans - the Battle Group of 141 Mountain Regiment commanded by Colonel Jais.

The fury of the defenders came as a complete surprise and the enemy lost 300 men of their first onslaught. Colonel Jais was probably keen to enlarge upon the difficulties causing this set-back because 5th Mountain Division War Diary of that day states: 'Armed bands are fighting fiercely in the mountains using great cunning and cruelly mutilating dead and wounded. This inhuman method of making war is making our advance infinitely more difficult.'

That night in Athens a printer was sought out urgently and a limited number of leaflets hastily prepared.

By the afternoon of the following day (May 27th) a solitary Dornier took off from Greece. From my vantage point overlooking Suda Bay I watched the German bomber approach . It dropped leaflets as it flew overhead - most of them falling off-target in the village I occupied. I then watched the Dornier complete its circuit and head back for Greece. The retreaing troops would not have seen the leaflets - they were already climbing away from the area. The fighting rearguard had a few desperate days ahead, and in any case, most of these brave men eventually arrived at Sfakia to find the last ship gone - and four years to face in a German POW camp. This was hardly the climate for gathering souvenirs."

"I was a Flight Sergeant in charge of armament at Driffield, Yorks, with the Whitley bombers. I was on the first leaflet raid of the war. It was part of my job to see that all aircraft were loaded with its propaganda leaflets.... I have one which is unique. This is a copy of a German ration book which was in use in Germany at this time, complete with bogus German hand stamp.... After these were loaded on aircraft ready to go on a night raid, a panic order came through ordering every one of these ration books to be returned to HQ. Every one that had been filched must be handed in and all personnel were confined to camp for two days to enforce this. However, as I was the Flight Sergeant in charge to see that this was done, I did keep one myself. It was said at the time that Churchill had them cancelled at the last moment in case the Germans retaliated in kind and caused chaos to our own rationing system."

Great Britain did in fact attempt such economic sabotage of Germany. The story is told in 'Forged German Rationing Documents of World War II' by R.G.Auckland. (Psywar Society Blatter Catalogue No.15)

"I served all through the South Pacific, World War II, in General MacArthur's GHQ Psychological Warfare Branch. We were not part of G-2 but right under MacArthur's office with his military secretary, General Fellars, as our boss. We cooked up the renowned Surrender Leaflet which was dumped on the Japanese; it sure took a long time before we succeeded in having a Japanese surrender alive. Part of the fault for this was, of course, the action of the U.S. troops in the field. I joined Psywar, MacArthur, in New Guinea, Netherlands East Indies, at Hollandia, and then went with MacArthur into Taclobar, Leyte, Phillipines, then after half a year or so into Manila and finally Tokyo. As I am somewhat of a collector, I left Tokyo with every leaflet that we ever produced, plus a full collection of the Japanese leaflets that were dropped on U.S. and Australian forces. Then the erosion began. First, the U.S. Government confiscated a large share of the Japanese leaflets due to odscenity(!). Thirty years ago things were rather Victorian, you know! Aside from leaflets in Japanese, we dropped others on the Filipinos to keep their spirit up 'til we returned, etc. In Manila the unit produced, under wraps and under guard, leaflets telling the Japanese civilians, prior to the A-bomb, to vacate. On Leyte we recovered masses of Filipino currency imprinted with 'The Japanese Government'."

"During the last war I was a fighter pilot out in Burma, and apart from our normal duties of defence-attack and the dropping of bombs from our Spitfires, we also dropped leaflets to the soldiers of the Japanese Army. Some of the leaflets had pictures on them and asked the Japanese to end their fruitless struggle, whilst others were Safe Conduct passes for anyone who surrendered with the leaflet. We dropped them from large canisters slung between the centre point of the wheels; a small explosive charge blew the canister apart so allowing the leaflets to be borne by the wind over a very large part of the jungle. Such drops were called 'nickel bombs.' We used the clipped-wing Mk VIII Spitfire which carried a leaflet canister made of hard cardboard or thin plywood about 6 foot long by 1 1/4 foot diameter slung between the centre point of the wheels. Normally we carried one 500 lb or two 250 lb bombs, each slung under a wing. At a height of usually 5000 feet the canister would be released from the rack. After it left the aircraft an attached wire pulled a detonator in the canister. To assist in stabilisation a 'chute was fixed inside the container which was extracted when it released to 'free flight.' The detonator primed a time-fuse and due to the speed it fell, the canister exploded around 2000 feet scattering about 40,000 leaflets and leaving the wind to do the job of distribution over a very large part of the jungle."

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