A Sniper Hid Inside a Papier-Mache Horse in No-Mans Land

H/T War History OnLine.

They Replaced a dead horse with  papier-mache one.
They Replaced a dead horse with papier-mache one.

The horse was the mainstay of battle logistics in World War One, pulling munitions and armaments, transporting the sick and wounded.

But they were also casualties in the war that saw the end of their extensive use in modern warfare. The rotting corpses of fallen horses were a common sight on the battlefields of the Somme.

The area that became no-mans-land between the trenches became a hellish region, blasted by shelling, strewn with barbed wire and booby traps, the final resting place of thousands of infantrymen from both sides.

It was impossible to cross, and trench warfare later became synonymous with stalemate.

During this period, finding out what your enemy was doing became a key activity as both sides tried to push forward and take ground by any means.

The Allies and the Germans both needed intelligence in order to gain any sort of advantage and reverted to very creative means in order to get it.

A dead horse was replaced with a papier-mache one
A dead horse was replaced with a papier-mache one

The French had already been experimenting with papier mâché making realistic heads which they propped above the edge of the trenches in the winter of 1915, in order to draw out sniper fire.

Letting the sniper hit these fake infantrymen meant that the location of the shooter could be established and then accurately targeted.

But their use of papier mâché did not end there. Emboldened by their success with mannequins the French changed up a gear and created an entire phoney horse carcass.

The idea was inspired by observing that the carcasses of horses, some quite close to enemy trenches, went largely ignored by the Germans.

One night a group of French soldiers snuck up close to the enemy line and dragged away the dead horse and replaced it with the papier mâché replica.

Pictured above are US Government photographs showing the same subject from two camera angles. The top photo appears to be the carcass of a dead horse on a World War I battlefield, but the bottom photo shows that it is only a papier mâché simulation of a horse carcass, with a sniper hidden inside.
Pictured above are US Government photographs showing the same subject from two camera angles. The top photo appears to be the carcass of a dead horse on a World War I battlefield, but the bottom photo shows that it is only a papier mâché simulation of a horse carcass, with a sniper hidden inside.

A sniper crawled inside while his comrades reeled out a telephone wire from the horse to the trenches so the sniper could report any observations of enemy troop movements.

The French got away with this subterfuge for three days before the Germans spotted the sniper climbing out of the phoney pony.

They wasted no time in obliterating the decoy, but the first attempt was considered such a success it went on to be used again on a number of occasions.

Such cunning with regard to camouflage was not the sole preserve of the French military, the German army for their part were also able to come up with remarkably durable spyware.

In Belgium there was an array of blackened and burned out stumps called Oosttaverne wood smack in the middle of no-man’s land, near Messines.

In 1917 the German military built a twenty-five-foot-tall tree stump out of steel pipe, painting it to resemble burned bark to merge with the remaining tree trunks.

tree stump
Sniper ‘tree’

It was a tight space but had just enough room to conceal a sniper, who would also be able to report back troop movements he had seen from his forward position.

Using diversionary fire to distract the allies the Germans cut down an existing tree and replaced it with the steel replica.

The fake tree was brazenly set up overnight in a huge logistic effort amongst the remains of the wood.

It stayed in operation until the Germans had to retreat following the Battle of Messines, when the British tunnelled under the German lines and destroyed their trenches from below.

tree stump
The “O.P. Tree” was an Observation Post Tree deployed during World War I.

However, the tree was so successful that the Allies had no idea for months that their movements were being spied on from such close quarters.

Indeed, the British had been established in their forward positions, alongside the fake tree for several months before it was finally discovered. After the war, the tree was put on display at the Australian War Memorial.

 

The work of the World War One war horses has been commemorated in many memorials, books, films and stage shows.

 

 

Lieutenant Commander James Jonas Madison

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio James Jonas Madison suffered amputation of his leg from wounds in this incident, that forced his retirement from the Navy on August 20, 1920.
Date of Birth May 20, 1884
Where Born Jersey City, New Jersey
Remarks Tiffany Cross
Action Date October 4, 1918
Battle-Incident Aboard Ship, At Sea
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Commander James Jonas Madison, United States Navy (Reserve Force), for exceptionally heroic service in a position of great responsibility as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. TICONDEROGA, when, on 4 October 1918, that vessel was attacked by an enemy submarine and was sunk after a prolonged and gallant resistance. The submarine opened fire at a range of 500 yards, the first shots taking effect on the bridge and forecastle, one of the two forward guns of the TICONDEROGA being disabled by the second shot. The fire was returned and the fight continued for nearly two hours. Lieutenant Commander Madison was severely wounded early in the fight, but caused himself to be placed in a chair on the bridge and continued to direct the fire and to maneuver the ship. When the order was finally given to abandon the sinking ship, he became unconscious from loss of blood, but was lowered into a lifeboat and was saved, with thirty-one others, out of a total number of 236 on board.
Award Authority
Award Presentation
Company Commanding Officer
Battalion
Regiment
Division U.S.S. Ticonderoga
Date of Death December 25, 1922
Cemetery Fairview Cemetery
Where Buried Fairview, New Jersey

Sergeant Louis Cukela

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio Sergeant Cukela served a two-year “hitch” in the army from 1914 – 1916, then joined the Marine Corps when his army enlistment was fulfilled. He retired as a Major in 1940, but returned to service when war broke out and served until 1946. He is one of five Marines to receive TWO Medals of Honor in World War I, and one of only 19 Total Double Recipients of the award.
Date of Birth May 1, 1888
Where Born Spalato, Yugoslavia
Remarks Tiffany Cross
Action Date July 18, 1918
Battle-Incident Villers-Cotterets, France
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor (Navy Award) to Sergeant Louis Cukela (MCSN: 207), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism while serving with the 66th Company, 5th Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, A.E.F., during action in Forest de Retz, near Viller-Cotterets, France, 18 July 1918. Sergeant Cukela advanced alone against an enemy strong point that was holding up his line. Disregarding the warnings of his comrades, he crawled out from the flank in the face of heavy fire and worked his way to the rear of the enemy position. Rushing a machine-gun emplacement, he killed or drove off the crew with his bayonet, bombed out the remaining part of the strong point with German hand grenades, and captured two machine guns and four men.
Award Authority
Award Presentation
Company 66th Rifle Company
Battalion
Regiment Fifth Regiment (Marines)
Division 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces
Date of Death March 19, 1956
Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery
Where Buried Arlington, Virginia

First Lieutenant (Infantry) Harold Arthur Furlong

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio Harold Furlong joined the Michigan National Guard after earning the Medal of Honor on active duty.
Date of Birth August 1, 1895
Where Born Pontiac, Michigan
Remarks
Action Date November 1, 1918
Battle-Incident Bantheville
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant (Infantry) Harold Arthur Furlong, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 1 November 1918, while serving with Company M, 353d Infantry, 89th Division, in action at Bantheville, France. Immediately after the opening of the attack in the Bois-de-Bantheville, when his company was held up by severe machinegun fire from the front, which killed his company commander and several soldiers, First Lieutenant Furlong moved out in advance of the line with great courage and coolness, crossing an open space several hundred yards wide. Taking up a position behind the line of the machineguns, he closed in on them, one at a time, killing a number of the enemy with his rifle, putting four machinegun nests out of action, and driving 20 German prisoners into our lines.
Award Authority War Department, General Orders No. 16 ( January 22, 1919)
Award Presentation Presented at Chaumont, France, by General John J. Pershing on February 9, 1919
Company Company M
Battalion
Regiment 353d Infantry
Division 89th Division
Date of Death July 27, 1987
Cemetery Oak Hill Cemetery
Where Buried Pontiac, Michigan

Lieutenant Commander (Dental Corps) Alexander Gordon Lyle

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio
Date of Birth November 12, 1889
Where Born Gloucester, Massachusetts
Remarks
Action Date April 23, 1918
Battle-Incident French Front Lines, France
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Lieutenant Commander (Dental Corps) Alexander Gordon Lyle, United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty while serving with the Fifth Regiment (Marines), 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Under heavy shellfire, on 23 April 1918, on the French Front, Lieutenant Commander Lyle rushed to the assistance of Corporal Thomas Regan, who was seriously wounded, and administered such effective surgical aid while bombardment was still continuing, as to save the life of Corporal Regan.
Award Authority Date of Issue: December 11, 1919
Award Presentation
Company Dental Corps (Attached)
Battalion
Regiment 5th Regiment (Marines)
Division 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces
Date of Death July 15, 1955
Cemetery Arlington National Cemetery
Where Buried Arlington, Virginia

Captain (Infantry) Louis Warlaw Miles

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio
Date of Birth March 23, 1873
Where Born Baltimore, Maryland
Remarks
Action Date September 14, 1918
Battle-Incident Revillon, France
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Captain (Infantry) Louis Warlaw Miles, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 14 September 1918, while serving with 308th Infantry, 77th Division, in action at Revillon, France. Captain Miles volunteered to lead his company in a hazardous attack on a commanding trench position near the Aisne Canal, which other troops had previously attempted to take without success. His company immediately met with intense machinegun fire, against which it had no artillery assistance, but Captain Miles preceded the first wave and assisted in cutting a passage through the enemy’s wire entanglements. In so doing he was wounded five times by machinegun bullets, both legs and one arm being fractured, whereupon he ordered himself placed on a stretcher and had himself carried forward to the enemy trench in order that he might encourage and direct his company, which by this time had suffered numerous casualties. Under the inspiration of this officer’s indomitable spirit his men held the hostile position and consolidated the front line after an action lasting two hours, at the conclusion of which Captain Miles was carried to the aid station against his will.
Award Authority War Department, General Orders No. 44 (April 2, 1919)
Award Presentation
Company
Battalion
Regiment 308th Infantry
Division 77th Division
Date of Death June 27, 1944
Cemetery Green Mountain Cemetery
Where Buried Baltimore, Maryland

Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John Henry Balch

H/T Home Of The Heros.

War / Conflict World War I
KIA-MIA-POW
Photo
Bio
Date of Birth January 2, 1896
Where Born Edgerton, Kansas
Remarks
Action Date July 19 & October 5, 1918
Battle-Incident Vierzy & Somme-Py, France
Citation The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Pharmacist’s Mate First Class John Henry Balch, United States Navy, for gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, while serving with the Sixth Regiment, U.S. Marines, in action at Vierzy, France, on 19 July 1918. Pharmacists Mate First Class Balch unhesitatingly and fearlessly exposed himself to terrific machinegun and high-explosive fire to succor the wounded as they fell in the attack, leaving his dressing station voluntarily and keeping up the work all day and late into the night unceasingly for Sixteen hours. Also in the action at Somme-Py, France, on 5 October 1918, he exhibited exceptional bravery in establishing an advanced dressing station under heavy shellfire.
Award Authority Date of Issue: September 1919
Award Presentation Presented at Great Lakes Naval Station, Illinois, by Admiral William A. Moffett in September, 1919
Company Corpsman (Attached)
Battalion
Regiment 6th Regiment (Marines)
Division 2d Division, American Expeditionary Forces
Date of Death October 15, 1980
Cemetery Riverside National Cemetery
Where Buried Riverside, California