What are the most mind-blowing tricks used during any war? by Richard Muller
Answer by Richard Muller:
In the first year of the “Battle of Britain”, the British had achieved an unbelievable technological breakthrough: they had developed magnetrons, devices that could produce such intense microwaves that they made radar possible. For many months the Germans were unaware of this. Had they invaded England, they very likely would have succeeded, but because of successful British deception, they greatly overestimated the number of British fighter airplanes. The reason was that every time the Germans sent a squadron over the channel, they were met by British fighters. They thought that the British had thousands of planes deployed all along the coast. In fact, the number was quite small, but the Brits could see the Germans coming, so they could alway meet them. Some people say that radar was the invention that saved Britain.
Even more remarkable was the cover story that the British spread to hide the radar technology. There was a known medical connection between an illness called “night blindness” and a deficiency of vitamin A. So the British spread the story that they were able to counter the Germans by feeding their pilots lots of carrots, which have abundance of vitamin A. This story did indeed leak and the Germans believed it and they started feeding their pilots carrots too. In fact, carrots do not improve your eyesight; they just cure a rare vitamin deficiency disease.
The amusing part of this is that the British families also heard that carrots improve eyesight, and told their children to finish their carrots for stronger eyes. The mistaken information spread rapidly around the world. When I was a child, that is what my mom told me! Many people today still believe that false story that eating carrots is good for your eyes.
I had heard this story from Luis Alvarez, who had been in Britain helping fighter pilots with the “Ground Controlled Approach” that he had developed (and which had saves hundreds of lives of the pilots). Many years later, I had the honor to meet R.V. Jones, the man in Britain who was in charge of deception. He wrote a book about British use of deception in WWII calledand I talked to him about his experiences. He verified to me that he had been the person responsible for the carrot deception.