20 Most Interesting and Unusual Facts of World War 2

Here are some of the most interesting and unusual facts that occurred during World War II that you may did not know. 

Fact 1: In 2014, a 90 year old British veteran – named Bernard Jordan – was reported missing from his nursing home.. It turned out they’d said no to him going to Normandy to celebrate the D-Day 70 year’s anniversary.. But he went anyway and left the facility wearing a grey mack concealing a jacket underneath with his war medals attached. (Source)

Fact 2: During World War II King George VI was at war with Germany as King of the UK, but as King of Ireland he was at peace with Germany and validated the credentials of German ambassadors. After WWII he was at war with himself as King of Pakistan and separately King of India. (Source)

Fact 3: The Mad Piper” Bill Millin, the only bagpiper to land on the beach in Normandy. While men fell around him, he played his pipes throughout the battle. A group of captured German snipers was asked why they hadn’t shot him. They replied that they thought he’d gone insane and felt bad for him. (Source)

“Mad Piper” Bill Millin

Fact 4: After World War II had ended German Prisoners of War in Canada were treated so nicely that they kept a great fondness for Canada and didn’t want to leave Canada when released. Many stayed in Canada or moved later on from Germany to Canada. (Source)

Fact 5: German interrogator Hanns Scharff was against using physical torture on POWs. Instead he would take them out to lunch, on nature walks and to swimming pools, where they would reveal information on their own. After the World War II ended, he moved to the US and became a mosaic artist. (Source)

Fact 6: When World War II broke out, all the venomous animals of the London Zoo were killed to remove the possibility of having dangerous animals escape if the Zoo were bombed. (Source)

Fact 7: The last prisoner of war from World War II to be repatriated was a Hungarian soldier, named Andras Toma, who was taken prisoner by the Red Army in 1944. He was discovered living in a Russian psychiatric hospital in 2000. He died a few years later. (Source)

Andras Toma
Andras Toma

Fact 8: There was a Japanese soldier, named Hiroo Onada, who didn’t surrender until 29 years after World War II was over, in 1974.

Hiroo Onada (Credits: Wikimedia Commons)

Fact 9: Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a Japanese man, survived both the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

Fact 10: Flight Sergeant Nicholas Alkemade, who was a rear gunner in RAF Avro Lancaster bombers, survived a fall from 18,000 feet (5,500 m) without a parachute! He suffered only a sprained leg. (Source)

Fact 11: Emil Hacha, who was in 1939 President of Czechoslovakia, suffered a heart attack after he was informed by Hitler & Göring of the imminent invasion of his country and threatened to bomb the capital if he didn’t cooperate and was kept awake by injections to sign the surrender. (Source)

Hácha, Hitler and Göring meeting in Berlin, March 1939 (Credits: Bundesarchiv / F051623-0206)
Hácha, Hitler and Göring meeting in Berlin, March 1939 (Credits: Bundesarchiv / F051623-0206)

Fact 12: Spanish double agent, Joan Pujol Garcia, received medals from both sides during World War II. He received the Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse from the Germans and the Member of the Order of the British Empire from the British. (Source)

Fact 13: After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Canada declared war on Japan before the United States did. (Source)

Fact 14: Did you know that Japan did claim U.S. soil? During the Battle of the Aleutian Islands Japan managed to seize U.S. owned islands in Alaska. It was a major blow to the U.S. Troops’ moral and costed many lives to reclaim the islands. (Source)

Fact 15: There was a Polish bear, named Wojtek, who gained the rank of Corporal, was taught to salute, wrestled with the men, drank and smoked cigarettes and helped the front-line troops by carrying ammo and displayed courage in his willingness to participate in the action.

Troops of the Polish 22 Transport Artillery Company (Army Service Corps, 2nd Polish Corps) watch as one of their comrades play wrestles with Wojtek (Voytek) their mascot bear during their service in the Middle East.
Troops of the Polish 22 Transport Artillery Company (Army Service Corps, 2nd Polish Corps) watch as one of their comrades play wrestles with Wojtek (Voytek) their mascot bear during their service in the Middle East. (Via: Wikimedia Commons)

Fact 16: That Nutella was invented during World War II? Pietro Ferrero, an Italian pastry maker mixed hazelnuts into chocolate to extend his cocoa supply.

Fact 17: The Dutch warship, Abraham Crijnssen, was disguised as a tropical island to escape detection by the Japanese bombers. It worked.

Fact 18: One of the heroes, best known for his efforts to stop the atrocities of the Japanese army during the Nanking Occupation, protecting and helping the Chinese civilians during the massacre was… John Rabe, a German and NSDAP-Party member. The Nanking Safety Zone, which he helped to establish, sheltered approximately 200,000 Chinese people from slaughter during the massacre. (Source)

Calvin Leon Graham
Calvin Leon Graham

Fact 19: At the age of 12, Calvin Leon Graham (April 3, 1930) was the youngest U.S. serviceman to serve and fight during World War II. He enlisted in the navy on August 15, 1942. He was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart Medal, and he and his crewmates were awarded another Navy Unit Commendation after the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Late 1942, Graham’s mother revealed his true age and he was arrested and finally discharged by the Navy in April 1943. (Source)

Fact 20: Elsie E. Mitchell and five children (Sherman Shoemaker, 11, Jay Gifford, 13, Edward Engen, 13, Joan Patzke, 13, and Dick Patzke, 14) are the first and only known American civilians to be killed by enemy action in the Continental United States during World War 2. They were killed after touching a Japanese “balloon bomb” that had drifted into Gearhart Mountain, Ore., in May 1945. (Source)

Did you know about these 14 interesting facts about Memorial Day?

1 thought on “20 Most Interesting and Unusual Facts of World War 2”

  1. Everett Minor Bailey, who went on to have a successful 20-year career in the US Navy, enlisted the day Germany surrendered and received his orders to the Pacific the day Japan surrendered. When asked about his good fortune he simply replied; “They knew I was coming!”. By the way, he was my dad.

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