As part of the ‘Titanic’ section of ‘Operation Bodyguard’ – itself part of the ‘Overlord’ D-Day invasion plan – a combined RAF Bomber Command and SAS plan involved some 450 of these dummies, together with real parachutists, being dropped in northern France during the night of June 5 and the morning of D-Day itself.
They were used as a diversionary tactic from the main focus of the Normandy landings. Thirty-minute recordings of battle sounds were also broadcast where the dummies landed, intended to give the impression of a larger force in action.
Explosive charges inside the dummies destroyed the evidence, but around 30 are thought to survive. A cache was found on an English airfield in the 1980s, but this 2ft 8in (82cm) high example made the trip and, having failed to explode, was picked up by a local farmer.
It sold at $7000 (£5225).