Editor’s Note: The Lancaster was the main British bomber of World War II. Here there is a fascinating account where gremlin belief shifts from joke to reality.
One night we got bounced by a snapper (fighter) and the rear gunner was hit. I sent the wireless operator back to get him out of the turret while we carried on the battle with the upper turret only, corkscrewing like hell. He and the navigator got the gunner out and dragged him forrard to have a look at him. When they were well away from the turret, all four guns in it opened up and went on firing till they ran out of ammo. There was no visible explanation, and in his report the W/Op simply stated that a Gremlin had taken over. On checking the turret afterwards, the ground staff armourers found nothing wrong with either the guns or their controls and, in fact there was no way in which the guns could fire like that. So they also said ‘Gremlins’ and left it like that. The Group Armament Officer accepted it too (Edwards 1974, 211).