War is brutal and bloody. It is rarely a laughing matter.
However, some soldiers deal with the horror they encounter by cultivating an inclination toward mischief and viewing the world with dark humor.
Below are six of the craziest and most hilarious pranks pulled by soldiers, in the middle of the war.
April Fool’s Day, 1915
It seems sensible to start with this particular event because it happened on a day dedicated to fooling around. On such a day, even the battlefield can become a playground.
According to an article in the Geneva Tribune, some German soldiers were taking a breather in their camp when suddenly they saw a bomber speeding through the air.
As it shot through the sky, it dropped a large, round object directly into the camp. The soldiers stumbled over each other as they ran for safety.
They waited for an explosion, but nothing happened. They waited a little longer, but still nothing.
With great caution, some soldiers approached the object and realization hit them: they had just been pranked.
Lying on the floor was nothing but a football with a tag tied to it. On the tag was the declaration: “April Fool!”
The act was said to have been perpetrated by a French aviator.
Wood for Wood
This particular episode was about turning the tables on your enemy’s prank.
As the Second World War continued in Europe, the Germans decided to pull a prank on the Allies. They built fake airfields where everything looked real with runways and wooden airplanes called “Attrappen.”
By bombing these airfields, the Allies would be wasting their time and resources. They might even be distracted long enough for the German forces to carry out a serious operation unimpeded.
However, this prank was ultimately discovered by the Allies.
As warfare tactics suggest, making your enemies believe that they have successfully fooled you is a very strong weapon. In that way, your enemy now becomes the one being fooled.
However, the Allies decided the opportunity for a prank of their own was too good to miss.
Just like the Germans hoped, the Allies flew a bombing raid over the fake airfields, dropping several “bombs.” But afterward, when the Germans went to investigate, they realized that they had been fooled.
All over the field were fake bombs made entirely of wood, each with an inscription that said: “Wood for Wood.”
Long before they became known as the Navy SEALs, these men were called the Amphibious Scouts and Raiders, and Naval Combat Demolition Units, but were usually unofficially referred to as “Frogmen.”
During a mission in Guam, they landed on a beach with a seven-day mission to pave the way for the coming invasion. They were met with a maelstrom of gunfire, but nevertheless they did succeed in their mission.
The cocky ones among them had swum ashore with large pieces of wood. By the time the first Marines landed on the beach, they found a sign that read:
Welcome, US Marines! Go Two Blocks Right. Signed UDT Team #4
This gesture was said to have sprung from the fact that the U.S Marines had bragged that they would be the first to land on the beach.
It makes one wonder why a bunch of humans would take time in the midst of ricocheting bullets to set up something like that just to prove they had been there first.
The Moon Shot
In war, there are rules of engagement. For example, it is against the rules to wind up on certain enemy targets and begin firing unless the enemy fired first.
This proved to be very frustrating for one particular pilot.
One on occasion on 1971, according to Marine first lieutenant Gordon Evans, he was flying a scout plane on a patrol mission 20 miles to the west of Da Nang when he saw about 10 North Vietnamese soldiers.
He was in a good position to annihilate them, but then the rules of engagement stood in his way. He decided to prank the Viet Cong soldiers into shooting him first.
He made a close pass across the dike, taunting them to shoot. But they ignored him. He made another pass, nothing. They just stood there, as though the plane was invisible to them and they were deaf to the sound of its engines.
Getting frustrated, Evans made one last pass where he dropped his landing gear, went full flaps down, and turned the lights on. He felt sure the enemy would react to that.
And indeed, they did — but not as Evans had been expecting.
The enemy soldiers turned around, pulled their pants down and mooned the pilot.
The Musket Prank
This occurred during the American Revolution. American soldiers back then were not particularly fond of their commanders and were willing to pull a prank on them now and then.
There was a rule in the camp that muskets should not be fired in the camp for any reason other than combat. Powder and shots were meant specifically for war.
However, with just a string, a loaded musket, and a hideout, Joseph Plumb Martin was eager to make his superiors go crazy.
He placed the musket inside a tent, connecting the long string to the trigger. When everything was relatively quiet, he pulled at the string, causing the musket to go off.
The loud sound infuriated the officers who charged out of their offices in search of the miscreant. After a futile search, they would head back inside.
However, the soldier would do it again, and again. This could often go on throughout the night.
Syrian Civil War Prank
The more recent Syrian Civil War is no joke at all. With over 300,000 deaths on the stats, this is a conflict that has generated a lot of concern from around the world.
But it would appear that soldiers, when completely engrossed by the war, seem to find ways of carving out fun moments for themselves in the midst of all the fighting.
In 2014, a video showed up on YouTube of a Syrian rebel pranking a Syrian government sniper using a dummy target.
The prankster made a makeshift scarecrow which was dressed in dark cloth and a mask and was on the end of a long stick.
From his hideout, the rebel would pop the dummy out into the open, holding the end of the stick. The sniper would then take a shot at what appeared to be a rebel.
This made the rebels crack up, laughing hard as they repeated the prank.
The sniper may have noticed it was a prank, but he kept on firing each time the dummy was popped out in the open.
It would be nice to think that, when the war is over, fate might bring the sniper and the prankster together in a bar, so that they could have a good laugh about it. But it seems likely that such a thing would only happen in the movies.