Boobytrap Mechanisms


A boobytrap is any form of concealed mechanism that is placed in such a manner that it will be set off inadvertently by the enemy or function by means of a delay mechanism.  They are designed to destroy personnel, vehicles, equipment, or communications.  Normally an explosive charge is employed that is fired by a mechanism but it may make use of incendiary devices as well.  Boobytraps are designed to create an atmosphere of uncertainty and impose caution on the enemy and so lower morale and slowing him down.  The casualties and damage are merely a means to that end.

 It should be noted that boobytrap devices are not issued haphazardly to every soldier to use as he sees fit.  The authority to boobytrap an area comes from much higher up the chain of command and when laid the traps are carefully mapped so that they may be lifted safely if and when the area is reoccupied by friendly troops.  The exception to this may be on raids deep into enemy territory where the authority to boobytrap has been given prior to the raid, in this case the traps are unlikely to be mapped but will be left for the enemy to deal with.  Boobytraps are normally laid by Combat Engineers or Assault Pioneers.  These rules apply to normal military units, not to irregular or insurgent forces.

Prior to the Second World War, I am not aware of any devices developed specifically for the purpose of boobytrapping.  There were undoubtedly nasty surprises left behind by withdrawing troops in the trenches of the First World War, but they would have fallen into the improvised boobytrap class.

 Boobytraps were used by all sides during the Second World War, the German being quite good at it, the British also became quite good at it and supplied many devices to the Resistance organizations behind enemy lines as well as providing training to those organizations.

Boobytrap mechanisms are normally operated by the following methods:

Pressure- Direct pressure by the foot, wheel, or track on the mechanism.

Release-  By the removal of a weight on the top of the mechanism.

Pull-  By moving some object that is attached to the mechanism or tripping a trip wire.

Delay-  By means of a clockwork mechanism or some other form of delay device.

British American