GERMAN LEAFLET V1/4 DROPPED FROM A V1 FLYING BOMB
The red text in the panel at the top of this leaflet reads:
'The finder is requested to cut out or copy the letters printed here and to transmit them to the addresses so that they receive them as early as possible. The original letters are being sent through the Red Cross in the usual mail channel'.
The letter on this side of the leaflet reads:
From Swift, Leslie (No.118431)
100 Upper Front Road
Maidstone, Kent, England
November 11, 1944
My dearest darling, Mother and Father. My thoughts are forever of you and this day of memorance I write you these cheering words, knowing you will both have the respects for me and enjoy yourselves who be level headed. I am a soldier and must expect these hardships that are bestowed upon us, but we must not be down-hearted, or it's not playing the trump card. I am making the best of a good hiding, so to speak, and am now getting along very nicely and hope to get a nice be parcel from you some time or other. On my return to England after the war we will have an excellent drink and laughter and joy. Also let me say the Germans are very much like us regards to ways, and have become friendly with quite a few, they are not what the paper reads, it's difficult to tell the difference in ways and manner. Also I say again you must not worry. I am well and have good health and warm clothing, good bed with sheets and your photographs at my side. What more can one wish for! We, work and are paid. We, my dearest ones, Happy Christmas, and Dad don't drink all that glorious beer and Mother don't forget the plum cake. So, dearest ones, cheerio for now, lots of love.
On Christmas Eve, 1944 a number of Heinkel III bombers with V.1 flying bombs slung under the wide starboard wing root close to the centre line of the aircraft, approached the north east coast of England where the V.1's were launched in a westerly direction. Some of them carried leaflets that were released by a small explosive charge just before the bomb plunged to the ground.
Four different 'P.O.W. Post' leaflets containing letters similar to the above and issue No.17 of 'Signal' a miniature English-language edition of the well known German illustrated magazine of the same name were picked up mainly in the Manchester and Cheshire area. Some bombs fell short and leaflets were found in Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Shropshire.
There has been some speculation as to whether these letters were genuine or not and Psywar Society members and other researchers approached all the addressees to ascertain whether the original letters had ever been received. Kent County Police confirmed that the address given in the 'Swift' letter was occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Walter Mark Swift who had a son, Leslie, who was captured at Arnhem in September, 1944. Mr. & Mrs. Swift received a copy of the leaflet, posted to them from Yorkshire. Mrs. Smith told neighbours that "the writing is in no way similar to that of my son, neither is the phraseology his". Some recipients recognised the writing and eventually received the original letter. Despite the odd wording of the 'Swift' letter it is now generally thought that the letters were genuine. The Germans made some errors in the printed versions of some of the 14 original letters such as printing 'Syboy' instead of 'Sydney' and other errors were made in the addresses which were probably taken from incorrect entries in camp records.
It is thought that the purpose of these leaflets was to try and ascertain where the V.1 bombs had landed and that German agents in England were instructed to contact the relatives of the PoWs to enquire if they had received any copies of letters from prisoner relatives by means of the V.1 Post. If so, they were to try and obtain the information as to when the leaflet had been posted and from what town or district, By studying all the information gained by such ruses, the German Intelligence hoped to pinpoint the time and impact area of their air-to-land V.1s.
British security quickly realised the very clever aim of the letters and counter measures were put into immediate operation. The Police, Civil Defence and other officials were given instructions to make an extensive search over a wide area to reclaim every single leaflet. Every owner of a leaflet, known or suspected, was contacted. Meanwhile, a strict censorship was made by the Post Office on all mail arriving at the addresses shown on the PoW letter.
Despite all the precautions taken by the authorities a few leaflets seem to have fallen through the net and the printed instructions carried out to the letter but by 1947 – three years after the event, less than forty examples of these rocket airmail missives had been traced and found for collector purposes.
Full details of the V.1 leaflets dropped in the UK and in Europe are given in Blatter No.7 'V.1 Rocket Propaganda Leaflets 1944- 1945' by R.G. Auckland and published by the Psywar Society. See Publications page.
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