World War II Foo Fighters
Originally the term was coined by cartoonist Bill Holman in his comic strip that ran from 1935 to 1973 called Smokey Stover. Smokey Stover was a “foolish foo (fire) fighter.”
The official War Diary from December 1944 of the 415th Night Fighter Squadron at Ochey Air Base located in Nancy, France is not particularly noteworthy until the entry dated December 15, and many more that followed.
On the night of December 15, 1944, a “brilliant red light at 2000 feet going E at 200 MPH in the vicinity of Erstein” was witnessed by the pilots.
Another entry from December 18 indicates that “five or six red and green lights in a ‘T’ shape” followed the pilots for several miles. This entry includes the notation: “Our pilots have named these mysterious [Illegible] which they encounter over Germany at night ‘Foo-Fighters.’”
Many more sightings of red, green, orange, and white lights arranged in odd patterns that appeared suddenly and followed the planes for miles were observed by the pilots during this time.
Interestingly, some newspapers in Europe reported the phenomenon as “mysterious silvery balls which float in the air” rather than the multi-color lights mentioned in the war diary. They reported further that the “device” might be a “new anti-aircraft defense instrument or weapon.”
Other newspapers reported that the possible German secret weapon looked like “the huge glass balls which adorn Christmas trees. They were reported to be transparent and of various colors, and would float in the sky above Germany.
According to Lt. Donald Meiers of Chicago, Illinois, three kinds of these lights were observed, “One is red balls of fire which appear off our wing tips and fly along with us, the second is a vertical row of three balls of fire which fly in front of us and the third is a group of about 15 lights which appear off in the distance – like a Christmas tree up in the air – and flicker on and off.”
Meiers added that the balls didn’t attack them, and only seemed to follow them like “will-o’-the-wisps.”
At least two dozen members of the 415th Squadron encountered the foo fighters during December 1944 and January 1945. They were not seen again in Germany after the Allies took the area East of the Rhine
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