How bizarre fake spy trees appeared in no-man’s land during WWI (and killed hundreds of soldiers)
Built using steel and wrought iron, these are no normal trees. They are camouflaged weapons of war used to devastating effect during World War I on the Western Front. The bizarre fake tree observation posts were built to spy on the enemy after switching them under cover of darkness with real battle-scarred stumps left in no-man’s land.
With a perfect elevated position overlooking the enemy and the element of surprise, historians say the outposts were surprisingly successful. Both sides used real trees for observation, building ladders up them and sometimes viewing platforms. But O.P Trees – or ‘Baumbeobachter’ as the Germans called them – were special. On the British side, artists in the Royal Engineers were tasked with meticulously selecting a real tree on the battlefield by measuring and photographing it extensively.