Britain Convinces Nazis They Can Set the Ocean on Fire
It was one year into World War II, a time when things weren't going well for Britain. They'd been unceremoniously bitch-slapped out of France at Dunkirk. German U-boat attacks were gnawing into their food supply routes, invasion rumors ran rampant, and you couldn't even light a cigarette without the Luftwaffe horror-bombing everything within a 40-mile radius. So how do you keep Hitler from crossing the English Channel? By telling him that you'll set the goddamned ocean on fire.
It actually wasn't an entirely hollow threat -- thanks to Shell and BP, Britain had managed to collect a hefty surplus of oil and did tests to see if they could use it to re-enact the Battle of the Blackwater from Game of Thrones. Sadly, what would have been the most metal thing ever created (until Ronnie James Dio would be born two years later) was not to be. Trial runs did manage to produce a "frightening spectacle" of fire and smoke, but ultimately the oil spread way too slowly. What's worse, a single mortar strike on the pipe system carrying the oil to the sea would cause a backfire and turn the entire coastal area into the world's largest decorative glasswork. But, of course, the Nazis didn't need to know that.
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"That's what we call 'burn off.' Let's keep that up there instead of engulfing everything we've ever known."
So British intelligence swung into action, spreading the story of their newly acquired pyrotechnic powers throughout occupied France, including whispering it to German patients at the hospitals of Paris. Before long, half the German army was convinced that anyone invading England would have to sail through a coast-to-coast tsunami of flame. And as they grew fearful, the locals got cocky. Soon, French resistance members started amusing themselves in bars by pretending to warm their hands on the backs of German soldiers.