“The Second World War was a war of science, a war which could be won with new weapons.” Sir Winston Churchill
The Department of Miscellaneous Weapon Development, known colloquially as the Wheezers and Dodgers, was created by the British in 1941 in the aftermath of the Nazi victories in Europe.
For the next four years they would become instrumental in the secret war against Germany, developing a wide array of armaments to give Britain the upper hand against the might of the Axis forces.
Under the guidance of Charles Goodeve, a remarkable Canadian with a flair for picking out which invention could tip the war in the Allies’ favor, these scientists and inventors worked tirelessly, and even put their lives on the line, in the quest to give Churchill’s military the knockout weapon.
As Nevil Shute, who was an engineer with the Wheezers and Dodgers stated, “If any one quality was a common requirement for the officers in this unusual department I would say it was imagination — the imagination to look forward and to visualize what might happen.”
Not all of their inventions were successful, indeed Sir Charles Madden, who served as staff officer to the Director of the Department stated that during his time there he dealt with “a medley of suggestions ranging from the impractical to the lunatic.”
Yet, despite some mishaps, the Wheezers and Dodgers were instrumental in aiding the Allies to victory, with their degaussing method of protecting ships from mines to their Hedgehog weapon that destroyed over forty-five enemy submarines.
Secret Weapons of World War II records all of the Department’s developments through the course of the conflict, both successful and not, and is written with humor and insight.
“Their story has the fascination of the unexpected, in a British well-played spirit.” Kirkus Reviews
Gerald Pawle worked with the Wheezers and Dodgers through the course of World War Two. This work was first published under the title The Secret War: 1939-1945 in 1957. Pawle passed away in 1991.