Monday, 22 July 2019

Curious Parcels Dropped by Bombers

It's weird the stuff you come across in wartime newspapers. Especially stuff you weren't really looking for.

This article, for example, which I found when searching for "pilsener".

"Curious Parcels Dropped by Bombers
. . .

Beer From Heaven
A CERTAIN fighter squadron had a series of dog-fights with a yellow-nosed squadron. Fights were hotter than Vesuvius, but were marked by decent shooting. There was no potting at men baling out, or gunning falling machines to set them on fire and burn pilots alive, or anything outside Queensberry rules.

One of our lads followed Heinkel back to France (as impetuous lads will!) and got shot down. He must have mentioned we were having a special celebration dinner in the coming week in honour of a gay little lady of the West End stage who has a special connection with that fighter squadron.

One evening at dusk came the whine of a power-diving bomber over the squadron's home station. Something black zipped down towards the ground as the bomber tipped its nose, put its skates on — and vanished.

Everybody dropped flat and prayed the bomb wouldn't come too near. But it wasn't a bomb. It was something on a little parachute.. When it landed they found it was a case of prized Pilsener beer — every bottle intact. It went down like perfumed snow. I had some, so I know.

Homage To A Lady
I HEARD and joined in the clapping and stamping and cheering when the O.C. read out the note attached to the case the Germans had dropped. It went — "Please convey our homage to the lady in whose honour you dine. We have no champagne, and this is the best we could contribute. Heil youth, wit, and beauty!"

The lady in question — famous on the Continent before the war as well in London — was charmed. A week or so later a British bomber reversed the trick. Sailing over the base to which the German squadron was attached, it sent down case of bubbly with the message —

"Miss ____ sends her thanks. The Pilsener was glorious. Will you try our champagne?"

A German pilot we shot down quite recently told us the champagne was glorious, too. It should have been — it was a rare Sillery. The amount it cost made the mess green for weeks.

So, you see, we don't always drop plonkers from the big bombers."
Sunday Post - Sunday 24 August 1941, page 8.
I suspect that this sort of sportsmanship was in rather shorter supply by 1944. The Germans seem to have got much the better deal. A case of champagne must have been far more expensive than one of Pilsener.

I've never seen the word "plonker" used in the context of a bomb nbefore. I wonder when the meaning changed to someone useless?

Funny how the meaning of words can change so quickly. Gay is also used in a different way to how it is now. And here we're only looking at 70-odd years.


Edd Draper said...

Great story, Ron. Reminds me of that famous tale of the Spitfires and Typhoons which ferried beer to the front lines in Normandy by attaching modified kegs to their under-wing hard points instead of drop-tanks. Gord bless 'em for their efforts to land a pint in a war zone - it brings a tear to the eye!

A Brew Rat said...

It would seem like dropping a case of champagne to a German base in France is another instance of hauling coals to Newcastle.

Barm said...

I wonder if anyone can track down who the actress in question was?

Anonymous said...

"Plonker" could be related to "plonk" and just mean cheap wine, perhaps?

qq said...

I'd imagine it's cognate with "plonked down" rather than "plonk"