Booby traps have been used all throughout history, and over time we’ve developed ones that are both deviously clever, and creative, but also horrific. From pitfalls, and trip wires, to exploding chocolate, and paintings, there no end to what can be booby trapped. Booby traps normally don’t kill a large number of people, but don’t be mistaken into think they’re ineffective. Booby traps make you feel as if you’re never safe. Anything you touch or walk over could potentially kill you or your friends. They mean you can never truly relax, or ever truly feel safe. They attack you psychologically, not just physically.
Crooked Picture Bombs
During World War Two, the Germans came up with one of the most devious booby traps of the 20th century. They would set up crooked paintings, and then leave them for the British to find. Most soldiers would walk right past it, but officers had a different attitude. They often considered themselves gentlemen, and would go over to correct the crooked painting. Immediately after doing this they might have heard a subtle click, and then they were blown to bits. The painting had been rigged so that if it was moved into the correct position, it triggered an explosive device. The really clever thing about this is how it targets officers, whereas many booby traps would be set off by lower ranking soldiers, who aren’t considered as important to kill.
Viet Cong Punji Traps
These traps are genius in their simplicity. A simple trap door, and below it? Bamboo spikes, covered in excrement. The spikes are alone are enough to kill, and cause terror in those that see it happen. The stories of these traps will scare, and lower morale among any invading army, but there’s more than that. Sometimes people won’t die, and are just maimed instead, but the excrement causes many to become infected. This can be even more shocking to the other soldiers, who see their fellow combatants die a slow, but also humiliating death in the jungles of South Vietnam.
Exploding Nazi Chocolate
The Nazis loved exploding stuff. Not only did they hide bombs in paintings, but they were devious enough to hide them in chocolate as well. The chocolate bombs were found in Turkey by MI5, but it’s not known whether they were actually used successfully or not. The hope might have been that Allied soldiers would take a bite out of the chocolate, and blow their head off. Or break a chunk off, and lose their hand. They also left rifles, and helmets on the floor, that were resting on the triggers of land mines, which would explode when an unlucky person tried to move it.
Flags are important in warfare. They’re symbols that can represent values and ideals, and often mean a lot to the soldiers fighting. Winning flags raises morale, losing flags lowers morale. This simple psychological fact is what led to one of the Viet Cong’s most deadly and ensnaring booby traps. After winning a battle against the Viet Cong, soldiers would want to celebrate by bringing down the enemy’s flag. Attempting to do this caused a grenade to fall down, killing the soldier. Fellow soldiers ran in to help, and fell into the Viet Cong’s hands, falling victim to a second, delayed grenade. A third grenade was also set up in case more soldiers ran to the scene. It was designed to be a blood bath, that lowered the morale of the US.
Terrorist groups have taken to some creative methods in order to surprise their enemies. In order to try and catch out their enemies, they’ve taken to hiding their bombs in animal carcasses. This is mostly done with dogs. One incident happened in 2004 when a dog bomb was set off by the side of the road. The bombs are set off from a distance by remote devices often made from pagers or electronic car keys. The tactic works because people don’t look at a dead animal carcass as anything suspicious, and try to drive past it. As soon as they get close the bomb will be detonated, possibly killing them.
Guns That Explode In Your Own Face
During their war with the Viet Cong, the US managed to come up with some creative ideas on how to get the enemy soldiers to kill themselves. They planted fake ammunition in the Viet Cong’s stockpiles, which didn’t behave as normal bullets do. When a Viet Cong soldier had taken his aim, and pulled the trigger, the bullet would explode. This had the effect of killing or maiming its victims. This also created anxiety among the Viet Cong soldiers about the effectiveness of the Chinese made guns, and undermined their confidence. The US made sure to only put one explosive bullet in each gun, so that the evidence destroyed itself.
The Viet Cong were experts at creating booby traps, which is why they’ve featured so often on this list. One of the most terrifying booby traps they used, were snake pits. It involved exactly what you might think, they dug a pit, filled it with snakes, and then tried to make it inconspicuous. An unsuspecting American soldier would at some point walk into it and fall into the snake pit. It would be deep enough that the snakes wouldn’t be able to get out, and neither would the soldier without a helping hand. They would also hang snakes from trees by the tail, and leave them like that. The snakes were hung at head height, and would bite anyone who came near.
Qin Shi Huang’s Tomb
The booby traps in Qin Shi Huang’s tomb are reminiscent of what you’d see in an Indiana Jones film, except this tomb was built centuries in the past. When walking through the tomb, any intruder would set off the automatic crossbows built into the construction. If the arrows only wounded you, you might die of blood loss, or simply be scared off. Another part of the tomb, which wasn’t intended to be a booby trap, but acts as one are the rivers of mercury found inside. The reason the mercury is there is because at the time it was believed to make someone immortal, which was the emperor’s goal before he died. It’s even possible that he died by drinking mercury, believing it would make him immortal.
The Viet Cong cleverly designed trip wires for tanks. They realised that while driving a tank, It’s much harder to realise that you’ve even triggered a trip wire. The trip wire was connected to grenades placed far about 10 to 15 feet away from the trip wire. If timed correctly, the tank would trigger the trip wire and drive right underneath the explosive device when it went off. This left no chance of escape, and was an especially deadly attack.
In order to stop doctors stealing bodies from graveyards in order to experiment with them, some funeral houses went to extreme methods. They created multiple types of cemetery guns, including a grave torpedo. These booby traps were likely quite effective as word got around, considering they didn’t discriminate between robbers, and people who happened to just be walking around at the time. Trip wires were clever placed over the graves, and when triggered, the wire would actually move the gun in the direction of where it was triggered and fired. They also hid shotguns in coffins, which fired when someone tried to open them. The most dangerous, and slightly insane defence was simply rigging an explosive device to the bodies, which would go off when someone tried digging up the grave.