How Ruperts helped the UK during the Second World War

RUPERTS were totally unheard of to me until I saw something on the TV recently about their use in the Second World War. Fascinated I thought I would delve a little deeper.

Ruperts were an English "weapon" on this war. They were not a weapon as such but rather represented "pretend" numbers of armed personnel dropping from the sky. Used to aid the British war effort they worked well.

However they were not a British invention.

In 1940 the Germans used Paradummies to try to out fox their opponents. During the Battle of the Netherlands and Belgium they used Paradummies which were almost like puppets. They were filled with straw and often dozens would be thrown out of the German planes. This was done at a time which would instill fear in those on the ground.

The Germans used these dummies later on in the war. It has been reported that they appeared so realistic that troops below would abandon their posts pretty sharpish.

The British form of these dummies may have the very British name of Rupert given to them but they were actually made in the USA.

Great Britain used Ruperts in 1940 during some offensive actions. In 1942 they were employed again,. This time to cause a distraction during the British invasion of Madagascar, Africa.

On D-Day, in Normandy, France, Ruperts dropped at night helped those on the ground win through. This Normandy drop was called Operation Titanic. At this time June 6, 1944 a force of 40 planes, Hudsons, Halifaxes and Stirlings, dropped a total of 500 dummies in four separate locations. 500 helped swell the numbers of actual troops invading. During an invasion by the parachute regiment Ruperts made the force appear much larger.

Ruperts may not have been able to fight or do anything in reality but they could scare the enemy.

In order to make the Ruperts more realistic rifle fire simulators and two teams of Special Air Service soldiers, 6 men in total, were also dropped. These teams carried recordings of loud battle noises which added to the realism of the dummies.

The Ruperts were only small, around 2 foot 9 inches in length. When they hit the ground they exploded and burst into flames, supposedly leaving the enemy baffled and worried. This is why only a few Ruperts remain today. Examples can be found in some UK museums. In 2009 one that failed to detonate in world war two was sold at an auction in Germany.

Later in the 20th Century paradummies were used by other countries, such as the US in the Vietnam War.

However. only in the UK could a paradummy be called a RUPERT.

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Comments 14 comments

ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

William, Maven and HH thanks for stopping by. It was all knew to me :)


Hello, hello, profile image

Hello, hello, 5 years ago from London, UK

I never heard of it but it was very interesting. Thank you for a splendid hub.


maven101 profile image

maven101 5 years ago from Northern Arizona

Coincidentally, I'm reading Manchester's tome on Churchill, The Last Lion, during which he describes officers in the trenches of WW1 as Ruperts...The Brits have a strange sense of humor...

In the film, The Longest Day, the use of dummy paratroopers during D Day, the 6th of June, is shown in accurate detail...

I enjoyed the read, voted up...Thanks, Larry


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 5 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

I've heard of dummies being used during the war, ethel smith, but I appreciate all this new information (for me, at least.)


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Hahah a log book. Well he would be good for morale I guess. Thanks for stopping by. This was totally new to me.


albertacowpoke profile image

albertacowpoke 5 years ago from Redwater, Alberta

A very useful hub. A deception plan is a major part of any military plan. If you can use dummies like Rupert it makes it impossible for a commaander to figure out what he may be facing in enemy numbers. Thanks for this. Remind me of the mascot teddy bear my Sergeant Major's wife made and a rigger who made a parachute for it. That little old teddy bear made static line jumps and freefall jumps. The boys had great fun with him.. He even had a log book lol.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Me neither Trish lol


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

I can't believe that I have never heard of these before!

Thank you for enlightening me :)


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thanks Roz


rozcalvert profile image

rozcalvert 5 years ago from New York

Thanks for a great hub. It's good to start the day with something new and interesting.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Could be. Thanks for stopping by


rafken profile image

rafken 5 years ago from The worlds my oyster

Once again, a good hub. I didn't know this even though, whilst serving, we would sometimes call some of our officers "Ruperts". Now I know where it came from, thanks.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull Author

Thank you Mark. I found them interesting also :)


Mark Ewbie profile image

Mark Ewbie 5 years ago from Euroland

Excellent. I don't know why, but something about Ruperts made me stop to read this hub. Nice work.

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