Flying pubs for D-Day

Flying pubs for D-Day

Normandy, 70 years ago – Allied forces were pushing into Occupied Europe after the D-Day landings.  To get beer to the thirsty troops on the ground, British and American pilots took extreme measures.rsz_nln_enewsletter_-_23_july_-_d-day_-_photo  They created “beer bombs” which delivered fresh beer in casks hidden behind bomb nose cones or ale in specially cleaned fuel tanks.  One pilot recorded the experience:

“The instructions went something like this, ‘Get a couple other pilots and arrange with the officers’ mess to steam out the jet [jettison] tanks and load them up with beer.  When we get over the beachhead drop out of formation and land on the strip.  We’re told the Nazis are fouling the drinking water, so it will be appreciated.  There’s no trouble finding the strip, the battleship Rodney is firing salvoes on Caen and it’s immediately below.  We’ll be flying over at 13,000 [feet] so the beer will be cold enough when you arrive.’

There were three issues – the beer tended to pick up a metallic taste from the tanks, American pilots were prone to delivering ice cream rather than beer, and the planes were the targets of both hostile and friendly fire.  One factory solved at least the first problem:

“Four tanks were sent to a factory for their insides to be coated with a substance to prevent the taste of metal, as is done with preserving cans, and taps were fitted.  A contract was made with a brewery in London, and on an appointed day every week a Mustang flew with two empty ‘beer’ tanks to Croydon aerodrome and brought back two full ones; one containing mild and the other bitter.  These tanks were placed on trestles in our mess-tent, which quickly became known as the best pub in Normandy.”

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