The things that pop up in your newsfeed, eh? You wouldn’t believe it if you didn’t see it for yourself. This photo is the latest to appear, and spoiler alert, it’s a fake.
You just can’t beat mindless patriotism in any country for attracting clicks, likes and similar traffic. So, when this appeared, I read the caption and applied the basic rule of skepticism: is it really likely that a claim this extraordinary is true? It took about three minutes to (a) disprove it and (b) source the original photos from which the montage was created.
This is the original of the right-hand side of the faked image. It’s from the Imperial War Museum’s collection.
So, first falsehood, it’s of a flight into Arnheim three months after D-Day.
The left-hand side of the image comes from a newspaper report of 25 veterans from the East Anglia branch of the Parachute Regimental Association who visited Colchester’s Merville Barracks to look around a restored Dakota, which is the type most paratroopers jumped from during the D-Day and Arnhem operations in the Second World War. Here’s the photo:
So, although it is entirely possible that (a) some of those former soldiers took part in Operation Market Garden (google it yourself) and (b) some of them may possibly have stepped inside that particular aircraft before, it’s only internet fakers who are making a different story out of the two images for their own purposes.
Now, the Facebook page from which this comes is not the originator of the original collage, but appears to be the originator of the false header statement in the top image. The page, I Wear My Poppy With Pride, is also riddled with random bible verses and has no official relationship with the Royal British Legion nor the Poppy Appeal.
So, why do people do this? I suspect it’s out of a misplaced sense of patriotism at one level, and at another, it’s probably about getting attention for being patriotic in an age when that’s not automatically assumed to be a virtue. And as far as getting attention goes, it’s been very successful, with 23,601 likes, 68,568 shares and 782 comments as at 2218 UTC today.
Thanks to www.tineye.com for all the helps.
UPDATE 0600 UTC 30/09/2015: I’ve cross-posted this to that Facebook post, so I might get a few annoyed visitors here. For their information, this is not an anti-soldier/sailor/airman post; it’s about making sure that you check and can trust what you read, and showing one way to do it. And I’ve got family who are not only serving, but have served and lost their lives in recent deployments.
UPDATE 2350 UTC 09/11/2015: The original post disappeared from the Facebook page in question a little while ago, but re-appeared on 5th November to gather yet more like and potential revenue for whatever group really is behind the page. I’ve re-posted a link to this post to show how it’s possible to check the facts that are asserted without too much difficulty or technical knowledge. After all, it’s OK to be patriotic; it’s not OK to fake your facts.
UPDATE 1200 UTC 03/11/2016: The original post has re-appeared on the Facebook page in question (23/10/2016) without any apology. The cynic in me finds that more than a little cynical …