Quonset Hut Quandary

Feb 16, 2009

RAY: This came from Tom Clemala. Let me set the scene: it's World War II, an RAF airfield north of London. A dimly lit Quonset hut filled with air crews just returned from bombing runs over Germany.

The meeting opens with the chaplain leading the men in prayer for their lost comrades. He is followed by the flight operations chief, who begins the debriefing by asking the airmen, "From what direction were you attacked by the German fighter planes?"

Without hesitation or dissent, the reply was, "From above and behind."

The flight operations chief hastily scribbles the information on the back of top secret maps, and hands it to a junior officer with the instructions, "Get this information to the departing air crews. It may save their lives!"

As the officer turns to leave, from the inky shadows, a hand grasps his arm and he hears these words:

"Hold that order. The information you're about to give will lose lives rather than save them."

What did the guy from the inky shadows know that the flight operations chief didn't?



RAY: Here's the answer. The surviving airmen answered that they were attacked from above and behind. But they survived! Those weren't the fatal attacks. The fatal attacks were from some other direction, and those pilots didn't have any advice to offer because they didn't come back.

TOM: Exactly.

RAY: What he really wanted to know was the information from the guys who weren't at the meeting.

RAY: Right. Pretty good, huh? Do we have a winner?

TOM: Yes. The winner is Eldon Brumbau from Racine, Wisconsin. And for having his answer selected at random from among the snow blower full of correct answers that we got, Eldon is going to get a $26 gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division of cartalk.com.

RAY: Congratulations, Eldon!

Get the Car Talk Newsletter