How Explosive Rats Were Used To Sabotage Nazis During WWII

World War II combined the height of human ingenuity with the lowest point of human nature. The Allied forces showed a MacGyver-like inventiveness in their attempts to outfox the Axis Powers. Per the CBC, inflatable Sherman tanks served as decoys in the D-day invasion, pink planes blended in with the sky at dawn and dusk during missions, and agents infiltrating the Far East wore fake feet on beaches.

Some ideas reeked of evil genius, like when explosive poop was planted on roads. The resistance hatched a hilarious plan to put extra-potent itching powder in German underwear, and according to the former publishing manager of the Imperial War Museum, Peter Taylor, it worked. The powder forced a U-boat to do an about-face and return to port because a bunch of presumably itchy Nazis "thought they'd got some strange skin condition." In one the craziest operations of all, British spies devised exploding rodents to sabotage Nazi factories.

Bomb, James Bomb

Rat bombs were the furry brainchildren of the British special operations executive (SOE), according to The Guardian. A secret agency geared toward aiding the resistance, the SOE partly inspired the James Bond spy novels. The group had a unit called section Q that designed all sorts of outlandish gadgets. Perhaps even more outlandishly, the SOE used a "crude" version of Freudian psychoanalysis to assess their agents in the field, which may also explain why section Q's inventions included cigarettes packed with explosives. They also disguised grenades as sugar beets, made exploding wine bottles, and explosive coal. But the exploding rodents were a whole different level of weird.

The mission was as simple as it was insane: rig rat carcasses with explosives and place them on piles of coal in of the boiler rooms of German-run factories in Nazi-occupied France. If things went as planned, German workers would toss the rats into the boiler, detonating them. But things actually went better than planned.

An SOE agent amassed 100 rats by pretending to be a student conducting lab experiments. The exploding rodents were successfully planted in the boiler rooms. Hopes for an explosion went up in smoke when the Nazis uncovered the rat trap, but in a strange twist, the Germans overestimated the scale of the sabotage attempt and spent valuable resources searching for more exploding vermin. The rats were even studied at German military schools. The SOE found that "the trouble caused to them was a much greater success to us than if the rats had actually been used." Bet you did Nazi that coming.