Like so many “secret weapons” late in World War II, the Japanese fire balloons or Fu-Go (Windship Weapon) were a failure. Of the 9,300 hydrogen balloons launched with incendiaries attached, about 300 were found to have landed or been shot down in North America. The Japanese hoped that these balloons would have reached the forests along the Pacific coast and started massive fires that would divert resources from the war in the Pacific Theater.
The bombs did kill six people, a pregnant woman and five kids, in southern Oregon who were out on a church camping trip. However, no massive fires were started and no resources diverted.
Until this month, the last time a balloon bomb was found was in the 1970s. A forestry worker in Lumby, British Columbia discovered one last Thursday.
On Thursday morning RCMP in Lumby were asked by one of Tolko’s employees to come to an area off Thunder Mountain Forest Road. The employee suspected that he had found an unexploded Japanese balloon bomb. The bomb is partly embedded in the ground within the bush in the area east of Lumby. Officers photographed the bomb and the military disposal unit from Esquimalt is heading to the area to deal with the unexploded bomb.
The RCMP said that they hoped to be able to salvage parts of the bomb such as the aluminum ring seen in the picture below for display at the local Lumby Museum.
This is a cool bit of history. I hope they succeed in preserving as much of it as possible. Looking at Lumby on the map, it is in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies. This means this balloon bomb, after crossing the North Pacific, drifted over the coastal mountains and about two-thirds of BC to land in Lumby. That’s incredible.