The 6th Bomb Group


Gremlins at work
by Roald Dahl

The word "gremlin" is now part of the English (American) language. Gremlins have become part of a rich American folklore. They are malicious little ill-humored gnome-like creatures with supernatural powers - able to walk around on B-17 wings in flight or work their way into a carburetor through the gas line. First heard of during the Second World War, they were responsible for unexplained and/or unexplainable mechanical failures mostly in aircraft and mostly in B-29 engines, even in-flight. There are many scholarly opinions about where the word and the legend came from, such as: "They were, perhaps, a blend of Irish gruaimín, a bad-tempered little fellow (from Middle Irish gruaim, gloom, surliness) and goblin." In fact, they sprang fully grown from the fertile minds of American fighting men trying to make some sense of a world gone mad. Semi tongue-in-cheek articles were written about them in many war time publications. They were, at times, taken seriously - at others, with the usual wry laughter that accompanied GIs in battle. The word is now used to describe most any inexplicable mechanical failure. They, "Gremlins," can always be blamed when all else fails.