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.
2. 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.”
3. 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.
4. 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.”
5. 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.
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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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. 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.
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.
12. 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.
13. 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.
14. The BBC ran a contest asking vacationers for pictures of French beaches prior to Normandy landing to help gather intelligence and determine whether the beach was suitable for an amphibious landing.
15. The average life expectancy of a flamethrower operator in combat during World War 2 was less than 10 minutes.
16Robert Kerr McLaren
In 1944 during World War 2, an Australian soldier named Robert Kerr McLaren removed his own appendix in the middle of a Philippine jungle without any anesthetic and with only the use of a mirror and an ordinary knife. The operation took 4.5 hours to perform and he stitched himself up with jungle fiber.
17. In the UK there are 53 ‘Thankful Villages’ where all of the troops that left to fight in World War 1 returned alive. Of that list 13 are ‘Doubly Thankful’ and had the same fortune in World War 2.
18. Operation Chariot was a World War 2 mission in which 611 British Commandos rammed a disguised, explosive-laden destroyer, into one of the largest Nazi submarine bases in France that housed at least 5000 Nazis. They withdrew under fire and then detonated the boat, destroying one of the largest dry docks in the world.
19. Some of the first German Soldiers captured at Normandy on the D-Day were actually Korean. They had been pressed into service by the Japanese, captured by the Soviets, then captured by the Germans, then captured by the Americans.
20. Although Nazi Germany sterilized or murdered 73-100% of all schizophrenics in Germany (about 220,000-269,000 people), there were no long-term effects on subsequent rates of schizophrenia in Germany. In fact, the rate of people diagnosed with schizophrenia post World War 2 was unexpectedly high.
21The Night Witches
The Night Witches was a World War 2 German nickname for the all-female aviators of the 588th Night Bomber Regiment. They would idle the engines near their target and glide to the bomb release point with only wind noise to reveal them. The Germans likened the sound to broomsticks, giving their nickname.
22. While a 20-year-old Rod Serling was serving in World War 2, he saw his best friend get killed by a falling crate of food. Seeing the unpredictability and irony of life and death, he would later use that experience to create, ‘The Twilight Zone.’
23. A cyclist named Gino Bartali used his fame as a winner of the Tour de France to smuggle counterfeit documents hidden inside his bicycle through the Nazi checkpoints in Italy during World War 2 under the guise of training. These documents allowed as many as 800 Jews escape persecution by the Nazis.
24. During World War 2, Lt. Friedrich Lengfeld, a German officer ordered his soldiers to hold fire to allow the rescue of an American soldier who stepped on a landmine. When no one came to his rescue, the officer himself went to rescue the soldier but stepped on a landmine himself.
25. Rationing in the United Kingdom during World War actually increased life expectancy in the country and decreased infant mortality. This was because all people were required to consume a varied diet. The only negative effect from it was the increased time needed for meals to consume the necessary calories from bread and potatoes, and what they described as a “remarkable” increase in flatulence from the high amount of starch in the diet. Scientists also noted that their feces had increased by 250% in volume.