1US Military Might
When World War 2 began, USA had the 12th largest army (behind Brazil) and the 18th largest air force in the world. By the summer of 1944, we were building bombers at the rate of one per hour.
2. During World War 2, German POWs in America were shocked by how African Americans were treated. This was due to the prisoners working alongside them in the fields, allowing them to become closer over their shared labor.
3. The autistic spectrum and the distinction between “high functioning” and “low functioning” autism was discovered by Hans Asperger in an attempt to save children in his clinic from the Gestapo during World War 2, who killed disabled children in preparation for the Holocaust.
4. Gay men incarcerated in Nazi concentration camps during World War 2 were forced back into prison even after the Allied forces won that conflict.
5. 80% of males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 did not survive World War 2. The Soviets suffered more deaths during the Battle of Stalingrad than the Americans did in the entire war.
During the final months of World War 2, Japan planned to use plague as a biological weapon against U.S. civilians in San Diego, California, hoping that the plague would spread as much terror to the American population. Japan’s surrender came only 5 weeks before the plan was to be executed.
7. During World War 2, a few engineers wanted to reinforce the returned fighter planes where most of the bullet holes were. Mr. Abraham Wald then said: “Let's reinforce them where no bullet holes are instead” because apparently, airplanes hit in these spots did not return.
8. During World War 2, rationing laws in the UK prohibited the sale of freshly-baked bread because “the tastiness of just-baked bread is likely to encourage people to eat it immoderately”. Therefore bread had to be at least 24 hours old before it was sold.
9. During World War 2, a Dutch minesweeper evaded the Japanese for eight days disguised as an island. The crew covered the decks in cut trees and painted exposed surfaces to look like rocks. They moved only at night and anchored closed to shore by day, eventually escaping to Australia.
10. Civilian Public Service (CPS) was a US government program that provided conscientious objectors with an alternative to military service during World War 2. CPS draftees fought forest fires, helped reform an abusive mental health system, and even acted as test subjects in medical experiments.
During World War 2, some black U.S soldiers who were stationed in England were drinking in a pub with local people when U.S Military police arrived to stop them from getting served and arrested them for not segregating. The white locals in the pub defended the black men, which eventually led to the Lancashire riot and gunshots.
12. While attacking a series of machine-gun nests during World War 2, Daniel Inouye had most his right arm shot off while arming a grenade. He pried the grenade out of his severed hand and destroyed a bunker with it before finishing the last resistance in the bunker with a one-handed Tommy gun burst.
13. Before Japan surrendered towards the end of World War 2, the US armed forces ordered over 1 million Purple Heart medals in anticipation of a difficult land invasion. That stock is still being used today.
14. German Prisoners of Wars in Canada during World War 2 were so well treated that they didn’t want to leave the country when released. Thousands of them eventually stayed or came back to Canada with one saying that the time in Canadian prison was “the best thing that happened to me.”
15. The “Three Musketeers” candy bar was named so because the package originally contained three bars: vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. World War 2 sugar restrictions led to the consolidation into a single chocolate bar.
During World War 2, there was a saying that “It’s more likely for a snake to smoke a pipe, than for Brazil to go to the front and fight.” So when Brazil joined the war, their troops became known as “Cobras Fumantes”, or “the Smoking Snakes.”
17. The largest movement of physical wealth in human history was during World War 2. Operation Fish had 186,332 gold bars and more than 8 million ounces of gold coins sent to Canada from the UK with not even one crate or treasury bill going missing.
18. Right before World War 2, the US Army created the “Logan Bar,” a chocolate bar that deliberately tasted “a little better than a boiled potato” as an emergency ration to prevent soldiers from snacking on it outside of emergency situations.
19. During World War 2, the British maintained an entirely fictional army, the “4th Army” that they successfully used to draw German forces away from invasion targets on multiple occasions, including the Normandy landings.
20. The fighting was so intense during the Normandy landing that 4% of the sand on Normandy beach is made up of shrapnel from D-Day that has broken down.
During the Normandy Allied Invasion Bill Millin, a Scottish Piper, played his bagpipes as he walked the beach while the carnage erupted around him. He later asked captured German prisoners why they hadn’t shot at him. They said they thought he was on a suicide mission and was clearly mad.
22. An American Paratrooper named Joseph Beyrle fought for both the US and the Soviet Union during World War 2. He was captured in Normandy, sent to a POW Camp, escaped, joined the Red Army and liberated the camp he had just escaped from. He later met Marshal Zhukov and won the Purple Heart for his Service.
23. British Commander Terence Otway, wanting to be sure his men wouldn’t leak the D-Day plans, tested them by sending 30 pretty members of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force in civilian clothing to the local pubs with instructions to do all they could to try to get information out of them, but none of the men fell for it.
24. During the Battle of the Bulge, General Patton ordered a chaplain to compose a prayer for good weather that was desperately needed for an advance. The chaplain complied, the weather cleared, and Patton awarded the chaplain a bronze star on the spot.
25. The Japanese used houseflies coated in a bacterial slurry to spread cholera in China and killed an estimated 410,000 people during World War 2.