The Dirty Dozen (movie) obscure question

I watched this again recently for the first time in many years.

During the war games, our heroes have “wounded” men in the enemy’s headquarters. Just before they spring the trap, Ernest Borgnine looks over at them, Charles Bronson takes a couple of pen-like things out of his pocket, passes them to Telly Savalas who adds a couple of the same things, passes the handful on and the next guy stashes them in a pack. They are long, thin, kind of silvery things that look like pens or maybe hypodermic needles. Ernest Borgnine smiles knowingly, obviously clued in to what’s about to go down.

What are those things? They don’t seem to figure into the plot at all and are never used or mentioned. What are they?

Detonators. Shove one of those in a block of Composition C and BOOM!

Ok, thanks, that answers what they are. But then the next question is how did they figure into the plot? Were the guys going to blow something up, or threaten to blow something up? Or did they take them from Robert Ryan’s guys to prevent them being used? Was there some scene that ended up on the cutting room floor that might have explained them?

(I know, I’m kind of obsessing on this, but it bugs me.)

You could frag an officer with 'em. They’re explosive enough, on their own, to kill a bloke, especially if you have a whole handful.

I assume there was Comp. C in the packs, or a faked version thereof for the wargame. The Dozen showed that not only could they get to Breed, but they could frag his whole headquarters. remember, they also got through with a machine gun.

Ok, thanks, I guess I’ll stop obsessing about it. Still seems odd that nothing was actually said about it in the movie.

Huh. I thought they might be morphine injectors.

If I remember correctly, they were supposed to be wounded via a car/jeep crash. In other words, while participating in the exercise, they got into a “real” car wreck. Normally, a wounded guy, with maybe a busted limb, might be given morphine (from the squad/platoon corpsman’s kit) to control the pain. But, in order to make sure that it looked like they were using their morphine injectors on the not-really-wounded guy, they (the infiltrators) had to hide the obviously unused injectors.

It’s been years since I last saw the movie, but doesn’t the “wounded” guy (Charles Bronson?) start to groan, and then Robert Ryan says “Give that man some morphine!”? :confused:

Or have I just made this whole scene up in my head? :dubious:

Well, I am not sure.

I just watched a portion of the film that is up on youtube, and the only things shown in that version:

Colonel Breed (Robert Ryan) says to Charles Bronson “What were you doing on that road?”, “What’s your name and outfit?”, “What are your orders?”, “I know most of the men under my command, but I don’t recall having seen you before…”, “Put him [the casualty] there. You men can stay, but keep out of the way.”

Ernest Borgnine witnesses the handoff and bagging of the items in question, which makes him smirk, then he leaves the HQ. (Borgnine never directly addresses any of the squad members).

However, the version I watched looked like a digital recording either off the TV, or off a DVD. The sound quality is poor, and the aspect ratio doesn’t match the youtube “viewing box”. It may be an edited [for time] version.

I don’t recall Breed ever commenting about morphine. Look up “Pencil detonator” on wiki. You’ll see the items they used.

Ok, they look very close. But why would the squad pass all their detonators to one guy, while in the enemy HQ? Why wouldn’t each man just keep them with him, like they do with their rifles?

Or, to put it another way…

If they need to gather them all up in a bag (to make an ad-hoc bomb), why not do that before they even get to the HQ/target?

Why distribute one to each G.I. in mission prep, hike to the village, steal a jeep and a machine gun, hike to another area, blow up their jeep, set up an ambush, have Bronson jog to the HQ and request an ambulance, other squad mates carry the wounded guy into the HQ, hijack the ambulance (putting the MG in the back), and then collect all the detonators from each guy, and putting them into one bag?

Because they don’t work unless they are with the plastique. If they were caught just before they sprang the trap, Breed could say that they failed because the didn’t get the explosives and detonators together. Plus the fact that, as a rule, you don’t carry the two together in the same equipment, and you practice the way you play.


When Bronson was asked “what were you doing on that road?”, he answers “Spotting for the field artillery, sir.”.

Would forward observers be carrying C4 and detonators?

Would you distribute the detonators to one per guy? Why not detonators in one bag, C4 in another bag (and soldier)? The C4 (fake or not) wasn’t shown, so we don’t know if they had to gather that all up, too, to make their bomb.

SPOFs are to be avoided wherever possible. All the detonators in one bag introduces such a point. I don’t know what was SOP back then, but I would spread out the goodies among the squad.

Of course, if Breed even suspected anything, the detonators would be a give-away.