Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Shreveport Times’ May 16, 1941 carried the following story about an accidental bombing in Bossier Parish.
“The mystery of the big holes in a cow pasture between Koran and Lake Bistineau in Bossier Parish which flabbergasted at least five Negroes, was cleared today when it was revealed that it was just a case of a Barksdale student bombardier hitting the jackpot by pulling a lever which sent all of his practice bombs down at once instead of one at a time—and sent them down at the wrong time.”
“Henry Allen, Negro whose cow pasture was hit, thought the Nazis had arrived when he heard a whizzing noise late Monday and then found 10 holes in the sandy soil.  He told his wife and the two of them told Carrie Jefferson, Negro neighbor.  All inspected the ‘craters’ in the pasture and then told Willie Miles.  Next Willie Woodson was informed and all five Negroes were in a state of mystification until Barksdale officials came out yesterday.  The appearance of the fliers, in full uniform, duly impressed the Negroes and the assurance that no ‘attack’ had taken place was accepted.”
“The Barksdale student bombardier was mystified, too.  He had started out on the first flight on which he was entirely ‘on his own’ so far as bomb dropping was concerned.  A pilot and co-pilot handled the plane as he got ready for 11 trips over the target, on the Barksdale range, intending to drop one practice bomb at a time.”
“The plane swung out over Allen’s cow pasture to come back across the target, and something happened.  The bombardier had a mess of levers in front of him.  One lever would drop one bomb; another would drop others, et cetera.  The student in some way hit the jackpot by accidentally touching the lever releasing 11 at one time, long before reaching the target.  Two hit in one spot, explaining 10 craters from 11 bombs.”
“An official investigation is underway at Barksdale.  It is believed the bombardier may have caught a parachute strap in the bomb lever.”
“Anyhow, the bombs are harmless, being metal shells loaded with sand and one pound of black powder to make a smoke puff by which accuracy of the aiming can be determined.  They throw no fragments and the craters they make re merely from the weight of their own sand.”
“They might do damage by hitting someone in the head, but planes are not allowed to fly over Shreveport or any towns with the bomb bays open, so there normally is no danger.”
“With full explanation made to [those involved], all is quiet in the Koran and Lake Bistineau sectors tonight.”
Old newspapers can solve many mysteries.  Come to the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center to get answers to your own history questions.

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