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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - Stevenson

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The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History - Stevenson
Confidential
30 Charles River Road, Cambridge, Massachusetts
KPS-HBS
July
10,
1942
Office of the Coordinator of Research and Development
Navy Department
Washington, D.C.

Dear Sir,

When last in Washington the writer called at your office
and presented an idea which has been brought to NDRC for its con-
sideration and action. This idea, as will be evidenced by the at-
tached correspondence, was first presented to the President of the
United States last January and has since been brought to the atten-
tion of various individuals and organizations without, however,
being finally disposed of in one way or another.

Briefly stated, the concept is to use the common American
bat as a carrier for small incendiaries. The original proposal
was to release these bats, for example, some hundreds of miles off
the shores of Japan and at such a time as would permit the bat to
travel to land, arriving shortly before daylight. The habit of the
bat is such that with light it would seek a refuge by crawling into
crevises under roofs, thatching, and generally into small places
where conceivably fires could be very easily started by means of a
bat-borne incendiary weighing approximately one ounce.

...Just how we could proceed experimentally to explore this
idea is quite a problem. Doubtless there are many of the questions
that could be answered by consulting the proper authorities, but
NDRC has not thus far pursued the matter, as the first point to be
determined is whether any of the Services would be interested in
the idea. Obviously, this is not a major incendiary. From the
standpoint of destruction it cannot be reckoned in the same class
with other incendiaries now available. On the other hand, the use
of such means might be very demoralizing, especially against a
superstitious people. It cannot conceivably have any value as an
incendiary for use against purely military objectives, as the chances
are that the bats would seek the countryside rather than urban dis-
tricts.

In submitting these papers to your Office it is my under-
standing that there is a group within the Navy which considers ideas
originating within the Service, and that this suggestion might proper-
ly be submitted as having that origin. NDRC is prepared to go into
this matter in whatever detail may be desired. The writer expects
to be in Washington some time during the week of July 20 and will
then follow up this letter by getting in touch with your Office.
Very truly yours,
Earl P. Stevenson





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