Little Known Facts of World War II
Because metal was scarce, the Oscars given out during World War II were made of wood.
The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin in World War II killed the only elephant
in the Berlin Zoo.
During World War II, IBM built the computers the Nazis used to manage their death/concentration camps.
A German World War II submarine was sunk due to a malfunction of the toliet.
During World War II, a German U-Boat was sunk by a truck. The U-Boat in question attacked
a convoy in the Atlantic and then rose to see the effect. The merchant ship it sank had material
strapped to its deck including a fleet of trucks, one of which was thrown in the air by the explosion,
landing on the U-Boat and breaking its back.
Stalin's original name was Josif Djugashvili. In 1913 he began using the pseudonym Stalin
meaning "Man of Steel".
Benito Mussolini, during the First World War, was an editor for an Italian newspaper partly
financed by the British and French. At that time he was an opponent of the Germanic Central
Powers (he also served in the Italian army until wounded).
Heinrich Himmler, the evil head of the Nazi SS, was once a chicken farmer.
You've heard of suicide or kamikaze bombers - but how about suicide battleships!? On
7th April 1945 off the island of Okinawa the Japanese battleship Yamato, which had not
been given fuel for its return journey home, arrived with several other ships to attack the
American fleet. The Yamato, which was one of the two largest battleships ever built, and
her accompanying ships, were sunk by American aircraft before they reached their target.
Adolf Hitler was a teetotaller, vegetarian and non-smoker.
Although many people refer to the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy as "Operation Overlord",
the operation was actually called "Operation Neptune". The landings were originally known as
Overlord, but in September 1943 the codename was changed to Neptune, and Overlord from
then on was used to refer to the general Allied strategy in northwestern Europe.
Despite what you might see in the movies, the regular German Army (Wehrmacht) did not
usually use the Nazi salute. Only after the July 1944 attempt on Hitler's life were they forced
to use the Nazi salute as standard.
Virtually everybody knows the name of the B-29 bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on
Hiroshima - the Enola Gay - but how about the one that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki
3 days later? This B-29 was known as "Bock's Car", and Nagasaki was not its original target -
the intended target city was Kokura, which escaped as the bomber was under orders to attack
only a clear target and the city was shrouded in smog at the time. Nagasaki was the first
alternative target city.
After suffering heavy losses during the airborne assault and capture of Crete, Hitler never again
committed his airborne troops to large-scale operations and they were instead used as ground
On January 17th 1942 Churchill was nearly shot down by the enemy and then his own airforce.
During a return trip from the United States, his flying boat veered off course and came close to
German anti-aircraft guns in France, after this error was noticed and corrected, his aircraft then
appeared to British radar operators to be an enemy bomber. Six RAF fighters were scrambled
to shoot him down, but fortunately for Churchill they failed to find him.
One of the American light cruisers anchored at Pearl Harbour during the Japanese attack of
December 1941 was the Phoenix. The Phoenix survived the attack virtually unscathed, however,
more than 40 years later she was torpedoed and sunk by the British submarine Conqueror in
the South Atlantic. The Phoenix, at the time of her demise, was of course known then as the
Amongst the methods of transport used by the 2nd Polish Corps fighting the battle of Monte
Cassino was a brown bear called Wojtek who helped to move boxes of ammunition.
The Soviet Red Army once trained dogs to destroy enemy tanks. The dogs were trained to
associate the underside of tanks with food and were fitted with a 26lb explosive device strapped
to their backs. Once the dogs crawled under the tanks, the device was triggered and exploded
destroying the tank (and of course the dog). Unfortunately this didn't always work as planned as
the dogs were trained using Soviet tanks so were more likely to run under these than the
German tanks. As many as 25 German tanks were put out of action this way during the battles
for Stalingrad and Kursk.
The heaviest tank ever built was the German Maus II, which weighed 192 tonnes. However by
the end of the war it had never reached an operational state.
REASONING FOR WWII
Hitler's revenge for Germany's defeat of 1918 brought about the cataclysm that was Europe
between 1939 and 1945.
THE NAZI PARTY
In 1930 there were 129,583 members of the National Socialist German Workers' Party or Nazi
Party for short. (NAtionalsoZIalstische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei - NSDAP) The word 'Nazi' is an
acronym formed from the first syllable of NAtional and the second syllable of SoZIalstische.
This practice was common in the Third Reich, another example being 'Gestapo' (Geheime
Staatspolizei). By 1933 membership of the Nazi Party had jumped to 849,009 and in the
early war years this had reached to more than five million.
THE ANCIENT SWASTIKA SYMBOL
The Swastika is a very old sacred symbol from near-prehistoric times and referred to in
Germany as the Hakenkreuz. There is no evidence that Hitler ever used the word “Swastika”.
It was traditionally a sign of good fortune and well-being, its name is derived from the Sanskrit
'su' meaning 'well' and 'asti' meaning 'being'. For thousands of years the Swastika symbol given
courage, hope and security to millions. It is well-known in Hindu and Buddhist cultures and
used by the Aryan nomads of India in the Second Millennium B.C. Unfortunately, Nazism has
turned the Swastika into a hate symbol. Hitler displayed the symbol on a red background 'to
win over the worker' and it had an hypnotic effect on all those who supported the Nazi
movement. In his book Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote 'In the red we see the social idea of the
movement, in the white, the Nationalist idea and in the Hakenkreuz the vision of the struggle
for the victory of the Aryan man.'
WHY THE THIRD REICH?
This was the official name for the Nazi period of government from January 1933 to May 1945.
The First Reich (or 'Empire') was the Holy Roman Empire period of the German Nation begun
in A.D. 962 when Otto the Great was crowned in Rome. This Empire, of course, did indeed
last - more or less intact - for around a thousand years.
The Second Reich was founded by Otto von Bismarck in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War.
When the Hohenzollern dynasty collapsed in 1918 with the abdication of Emperor William II,
the Second Reich came to its end.
This was followed by the Weimar Republic which lasted from 1918 to 1933.
In turn, it was followed by Hitler's Third Reich which he regarded as an empire that would also
last for a thousand years. (Hitler had adopted the term 'Third Reich' in the early 1920s after
the German writer Arthur Moeller von der Bruck used it as a title for one of his books.)
Hitler's "Thousand Year Reich" actually ended up lasting for only 12 years, 4 months and 8
The first shot of World War II in Europe was fired from the 13,000 ton German gunnery training
battleship Schleswig Holstein (Captain Gustav Kleikamp) which was on a visit to Poland to
honour the sailors lost on the German cruiser Magdeburg sunk in 1914, some of whom were
buried in Danzig. It was anchored in Danzig (now Gdansk) harbour at the mouth of the River
Vistula. At 4.30 am on September 1, 1939, the ship moved slowly down the Port Canal and
took up position opposite the Westerplatte (an area containing Polish troop barracks, munition
storage and workshops) and at 4.47 am, at point blank range, the order to 'Fire' was given.
FIRST ALLIED SHOT
The first Allied shot of the war in the Far East was actually fired over the bows of the Australian
coaster Woniora (Captain F. N. Smale) from a twin 6-inch gun emplacement at Point Nepean,
guarding the entrance to Melbourne's Port Phillip Bay. The 823 ton coaster had entered the
bay at 9.15 pm on September 3, 1939 after a trip from Tasmania. Ordered to heave-to for
inspection, the coaster gave her identity but continued on without stopping. A 100 lb shell,
fired across her bow, soon changed her captain's mind.
One hour and fifty minutes after Britain declared war on Germany, a Bristol Blenheim
fighter-bomber, piloted by Pilot Officer John Noel Isaac of 600 Squadron, crashed on Heading
Street in Hendon near London at 12.50pm. John Isaac became the first British subject to die
in the Second World War. On September 6, 1939, just three days after Britain went to war
with Germany, a young Shropshire pilot, Pilot Officer John Hulton-Harrop, age 26, became
the first operational casualty of Fighter Command when he was shot down in a tragic case
of 'Friendly Fire' soon after he took off from North Weald fighter station. The first Prisoner Of
War was Sergeant George Booth, an RAF observer with 107 Squadron. He was captured
when his Bristol Blenheim was shot down over the German coast on September 4, 1939.
FIRST AMERICAN CASUALTY
The first American military officer killed in the war was Air Corps Captain, Robert M. Losey.
While in Norway in 1940, on a meteorological mission, the country was invaded by Germany.
Anxious to observe the front line fighting, Losey was caught in an air-raid on the town of
Domras. Sheltering in the mouth of a tunnel, he was killed instantly by shrapnel from a German
MY FELLOW AMERICANS ... LET'S GO HOME!
In May, 1940, the US Ambassador to London, Joseph Kennedy, urged the 4,000 or so
Americans living in Britain to pack up and go home. Over seventy responded to this plea by
joining the British Home Guard instead! Called the 1st American Squadron of the Home Guard,
it was led by General Wade H. Heyes. Kennedy was hostile to the whole idea, fearing that
they would all be shot as 'francs-tireurs' when the Germans occupied London.
Before the war there were around 206,000 Jews living in Austria. Only 5,500 survived the Nazi
MARRIAGE LOAN (Ehestanddarlehen)
In Germany, financial aid was given to encourage young couples to marry and set up house
and help raise the birth-rate. Between August 1933 and the end of 1936, a total of 694,367
marriages were financed. From these marriages, 485,285 children were born.
AMERICAN GUN SALES
Until 1933, the German S.A. (Brownshirts) were equipped with revolvers and machine guns
which were proudly embossed 'MADE IN USA'
Members of the 'America First Committee' held a rally on April 28, 1941, in Chicago. In the
speeches, mention of Winston Churchill's name drew boos from the 10,000 person audience.
A speech by Colonel Charles Lindbergh, the respected US isolationist, was interrupted by
applause when he said that England was in a desperate situation, her shipping losses serious,
'her cities devastated by bombs'. Two months later, the city council of Charlotte, North Carolina,
changed the name of Lindbergh Drive to Avon Terrace.
The term was first used by the Spanish to describe their camps set up in Cuba during the
Spanish-American War of 1895-1898. The first Concentration Camp, for the sole purpose of
the physical destruction of prisoners was set up in Holmogor by the Bolsheviks in 1921. The
idea in German minds that the British invented concentration camps was fostered by Dr Joseph
Goebbels during the 1930s. Propaganda picture postcards in 1938 of genuine Russian camps,
were re-labelled for issue as 'Genuine British Concentration Camps in South Africa'. The British
camps in South Africa, set up during the two and a half year long Boer War (1899-1902) were
for internment purposes only, but the lack of proper supervision, negligence and poor hygiene,
gave the camps a bad name and caused the deaths of over 30,000 inmates, mostly from
outbreaks of typhoid and measles. Thirty-one such camps were scattered around South Africa
during this time.
The first camp in which Jews had been gassed was Chelmno in Poland. The first gassings took
place in December, 1941. This was the first camp mentioned by name in the West. A train had
left Holland on November 20 carrying 726 deportees, on the 24th, another train with 709 Jews
departed and on November 30 a total of 826 Jews were deported. All the Dutch people knew
was that the trains were heading east for Poland. The word 'Auschwitz' was unheard of in the
West until April 18, 1943, when an eye-witness report reached London. However this report
was never made public.
In 1942, the Allies knew of the wholesale massacres taking place in camps such as Chelmno,
Treblinka, Belzec, Sobibor and Majdanek but the horror of Auschwitz was still to emerge.
Conferences were arranged, telephone calls and telegrams exchanged, discussions took place
and notes were passed back and forth but nothing was actually done and all this time the
deportations and killings went on and on. Even in December, 1943, when the airfield at Foggia
in Southern Italy was captured, thus bringing the camps within range of Allied bombers
(a round trip of just under1,300 miles) the camp at Auschwitz was still not identified as the
destination of the deportee transports. On May 31, 1944, the complex at Monovitz was
photographed for the second time and Auschwitz itself was photographed but the row upon
row of prisoners huts, which was holding around 52,000 prisoners, failed to register as an
extermination camp in the minds of Allied intelligence services.
On April 7, 1944, two Jewish prisoners, Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, escaped from the
camp and headed for Slovakia where they reached the village of Skalite on Friday, April 21.
Next morning they travelled to Zilina where they contacted the Jewish Agency. Their report,
together with the report of two other escapees, Peter Mordowicz and Arnost Rosin, eventually
reached London and on June 18 brief details were heard on the radio during a broadcast from
the BBC. This alerted the outside world to the reality of Auschwitz. The first photographs to
reach the west was of corpses scattered around the Majdanek camp. These were taken by the
Red Army on January 3, 1945. Auschwitz had still to be liberated.
ICE CREAM BARGE
Perhaps the war's most unusual ship was commissioned in 1945 at a cost of around one
million dollars. It was the US Navy's 'Ice Cream Barge' the world's first floating ice cream
parlour. It's sole responsibility was to produce ice cream for US sailors in the Pacific region.
The barge crew pumped out around 1,500 gallons every hour! The concrete hulled vessel had
no engine of its own but was towed around by tugs and other ships. A second barge, also in
the ice cream business, and under the command of a Major Charles Zeigler, was anchored off
Seven American volunteer pilots fought alongside the RAF pilots during the Battle of Britain.
One, P/O William Fiske, died of wounds on August 17, 1940. (Could P/O Fiske have been
the first American casualty of World War II ?) Only one of the other six, Pilot Officer Havilland,
survived the war. (During the Battle of Britain, the German Luftwaffe lost 1,882 planes, the RAF
lost 1,265 planes. In all, 537 pilots were lost to Fighter Command, 718 pilots to Bomber
Command and 280 pilots were lost to Coastal Command)
Many American pilots served in the Royal Air Force and in order to circumvent the US
Neutrality Act they assumed Canadian or South African nationality. They formed the Eagle
Squadrons, approved by the British Air Ministry in September, 1940, and operated within the
RAF Fighter Command. The first Eagle Squadron was No. 71 Squadron, formed with
Hurricanes at RAF Station, Kirton-in-Lindsay, Lincolnshire. The ultimate total of US pilots thus
serving numbered 243 with additional squadrons Nos. 121 and 133 operating from
Kirton-in-Lindsay and Coltishall respectively. On September 29, 1942, airmen of the three
Eagle Squadrons of the RAF were transferred into the US 8th Air Force the first contingent
of which arrived in England on May 12, 1942.
THE FIRST AMERICAN MERCHANT SHIP SINKING
The first US merchant ship sunk by the Japanese was the 2,140 ton Army-chartered steam
schooner Cynthia Olson on passage from Tacoma to Honolulu. Sunk on December 7, 1941
by shelling from the submarine I-26, 1,827 kilometres north-east of Honolulu. The crew of 33
and two military men were all lost.
During the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Hawaiian DC-3 airliner, coming in to land, was hit by a
Japanese tracer bullet and set on fire. A minute later, the plane was hit by another bullet which
hit the valve of a fire extinguisher, thus putting out the fire!
The unprovoked attack on the American naval base in Hawaii on December 7, 1941, launched
the Pacific War. Casualties were 2,403 Americans killed, 1,178 wounded. Two battleships, the
Arizona and the Oklahoma, were sunk and five others damaged, 188 planes were destroyed
and 162 damaged at the two US Air Force bases. US Admiral Bloch was later to declare 'The
Japanese only destroyed a lot of old hardware'. Most of the US Fleet was out at sea, none of
the newer ships were in the harbour at the time of the attack.
The Japanese attacking force consisted of 31 ships with 253 aircraft. Japanese losses were
29 planes with 55 airmen killed and 5 midget submarines lost. In total, 64 deaths. (The first
American casualty of the Pacific War was seaman Julius Ellsberry from Birmingham, Alabama,
who was killed during the attack.) On January 26, 1942, a Board of Inquiry found the
Commander-in-Chief US Fleet, Admiral Kimmel and the Commander-in-Chief Hawaiian
Department, General Short, guilty of dereliction of duty. Both were dismissed.
Stuka Dive Bombers
The JU-87B Stuka, which first flew in 1935, was a Rolls Royce engine.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's famous speech, "We Shall Never Surrender" was
actually spoken by an actor impersonating Churchill's voice over the BBC.
From 1933 onwards, the music of German Jewish composer Mendelssohn was banned. Soon
after, all Jews were dismissed from symphony orchestras and from the Opera. Books published
by Jewish authors such as Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Maxim Gorky and Heinrich Heine were
burned in April, 1934, in front of the University of Berlin. One of the leading newspapers, the
'Vossische Zeitung' was forced out of business because it was owned by the 'House of Ullstein'
a Jewish firm. The same thing happened to the German Jewish newspaper, the 'Judische
Rundschau'. The Jewish owned 'Berliner Tageblatt was forced to close in 1937. The well known
and respected Frankfurter Zeitung was allowed to flourish but its Jewish owners were sacked.
On April 7, 1933, a Civil Service Law was passed in Germany. This law banned all persons with
a Jewish grandparent from public employment, an action which caused great distress in the
Jewish community. By the end of the year around 31,000 of Berlin's Jews were living on charity.
(Of the 503,000 Jews living in Germany when Hitler came to power around 319,900 had fled the
country by 1939. By the war's end only about 23,000 were living in Germany)
ALIENS IN THE U.S.A.
The US Department of Justice reported in August, 1941, that of all non-Americans citizens
who registered under the Alien Registration Act, 694,971 were from Italy, 449,022 from
Canada, 442,551 from Poland, 416,892 from Mexico, 366,834 from The Soviet Union, 315,004
from Germany, 291,451 from Great Britain and 91,843 from Japan, a total of 4,921,439.
On January 1, 1942, US Attorney General Francis Biddle, issues orders to all German, Italian
and Japanese aliens to hand in their short-wave radios, cameras and firearms to their local
police stations. They are also forbidden to change their address without permission and, if
living on the east coast, to obey a 9pm to 6am curfew.
The US Government viewed persons of 'enemy ancestry' as potentially dangerous. This
included American born and naturalized citizens and those with permanent residence. The
latter had come to the US seeking freedom and opportunity. They simply could not fathom the
government's behaviour when their civil liberties were completely ignored, their families torn
apart and sent to different internment camps, their assets frozen for the duration of the war.
American civilians held prisoner in Germany were exchanged for German-American internees.
On arrival in Germany some men were arrested by the Gestapo as spies and put in camps,
leaving their families destitute again.
In January, 1945, the liner SS Gripsholm carried 1,000 exchangees to Germany. The last
German/American was released from Ellis Island in August, 1948. Upon release, all internees
(31,280) were sworn to secrecy and threatened with deportation if ever they spoke of their
ordeal. Many returned to their former homes only to find the houses vandalized, the contents
stolen or damaged. Confronted with feelings of anger, confusion, resentment, bitterness, guilt
and shame, they desperately tried to mend their broken lives. Personal justice was denied to
these German/Americans while the government acknowledged mistreatment of Japanese
internees and granted them financial compensation.
Driven by hysteria after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the US
arrested 737 Japanese Americans immediately and on the 11th another 1,370 were detained.
In all, 16,849 Americans of Japanese ancestry were relocated in ten specially built War
Relocation Authority Camps in the USA. Around 70% of these had already become US
citizens. Most of these camps were located in California. Opened in March, 1942, all were
closed by 1946 most internees being released well before the end of the war. In Latin America,
around 2,000 Japanese were rounded up so the US would have prisoners to exchange with
Japan. During the Japanese/American internment, 5,918 babies were born. A total of 2,355
internees joined the US armed forces and around 150 were killed in combat. The 100th/442nd
Regimental Combat Team was formed after its members petitioned Congress for the privilege
to serve in the war. It became the most decorated unit in US military history earning 21 Medals
of Honor as well as 9,486 Purple Hearts. After the war, 4,724 US citizens of Japanese ancestry,
angered by this terrible injustice, renounced their American citizenship and returned to Japan.
There were no renunciants among the German or Italian Americans in US Camps.
It is strange that in Hawaii, the ethnic Japanese, over 30% of the Hawaiian population, were not
interned after Pearl Harbor. The US Government later agreed that the nation had acted hastily
in its treatment of aliens and that the vast majority of them were loyal to America. Deaths from
natural causes in the camps accounted for another 1,862.
During the war, a total of 51,156 Italian nationals were also interned in the USA at various
times. These included the hundreds of Italian seamen from ships impounded in US ports at
the outbreak of the war with Italy in June, 1940. The largest camp for Italian male internees
was at Fort Lincoln in North Dakota. Later they were interned at Fort Missoula, Montana. In
1942 there were around 600,000 Italian residents in the USA who had not become US citizens.
All were branded 'enemy aliens' by the US Government and 114,000 were restricted in their
travel. Around 10,000 were compelled to move inland from their coastal area homes in
California. As from October 10, 1942, the 600,000 Italian citizens living in the USA would
no longer be classified as enemy aliens. This was the result of the splendid showing the
Italians have made in meeting the test of loyalty to their new country.
The first of the 2,751 Liberty ships built was the SS Patrick Henry, launched in 1941.
President F. D. Roosevelt delivered a speech using 'Liberty' as the theme. He referred to
Patrick Henry's famous quote "Give me liberty ... or give me death." Stating that these ships
would bring liberty to Europe the name stuck, thence 'Liberty Ships'. Most of these ships were
named after prominent (deceased) Americans. Eighteen were named after outstanding
African-Americans. The only person to make an actual visit to a Liberty ship named in his
honour was a Frances J. O'Gara, presumed killed in action but in fact was a prisoner of war.
FIRST AMERICAN NAVAL CASUALTY
The first US naval casualty of the war was the US destroyer Kearney, torpedoed and
damaged off Iceland while on convoy escort duty. Eleven men were killed. The first US
Navy loss was the destroyer Reuben James torpedoed and sunk off Iceland while escorting
a British convoy from Halifax (October 31, 1941) 115 men were lost.
After Pearl Harbor, the Department of Conservation in Nashville, Tennessee, handed in a
request for six million licenses to hunt Japs at a fee of $2 each. Back came a note "Open
season on Japs - no license required."
DECLARATION OF WAR
On December 11, 1941, the US Senate declared war on Germany and Italy. With only one
short speech, the Senate voted 88-to-0 for war against Germany, 90-to-0 for war with Italy.
There was one abstention, Republican Pacifist Jeannette Rankin called out 'Present' - a
refusal to vote. The House of Representatives voted war with Germany, 393-to-0. After the
vote was taken the chamber was filled with the noise of stamping feet from the galleries as
the public stomped out. It seems that the war with Italy vote (399-to-0) wasn't worth waiting
AMERICAN SERVICEMEN IN AUSTRALIA
The first US troops arrived in Australia at Brisbane, Queensland, on Christmas Eve, 1941.
Almost one million American servicemen passed through Australia during the war. About
7,000 Australian women married their American boy friends and travelled to the USA as
AMERICAN SERVICEMEN IN BRITAIN
In Britain, the Yanks were said to be "overpaid, oversexed, overfed and over here." The
Americans countered this by saying the Brits were "underpaid, undersexed, underfed and
An attempt by the Americans to cause a volcano to re-erupt ended in failure. In 1942, the
Tavorvur Volcano on Matupi Island, Rabaul, erupted and caused great concern for the
Japanese occupation troops. To cause greater concern, the Americans purchased from the
British Government two 'earthquake' bombs of the type invented by Barnes Wallis for the Ruhr
Dams raid. The two bombs, together with a number of 2000 pounders, were dropped on the
gaping mouth of the still smoking volcano. Both bombs missed the target and buried
themselves in the sand near the end of the runway on the nearby Lukunai airstrip. In 1970,
the two bombs were discovered unexploded. The Australian Navy was informed and the bombs
On March 3, 1942, the FBI was ordered to round up about 8,000 foreign seamen who had
deserted their ships while in US ports. They included around 3,000 Norwegians and 3,000
Greeks. The rest were Swedes, Dutch, Danes and British. They were asked to return to their
ships or face deportation or internment.
SORRY NO REQUESTS
American disc jockeys were banned from playing listeners requests in 1942. The War
Department explained that enemy agents might use the format as codes to pass military
information on to their superiors.
A total of 64 American nurses were captured when Bataan and Corrigidor fell to the Japanese
on May 7, 1942. None took part in the Bataan Death March but were sent to the big civilian
internment camp at Santo Tomas University on Rizal Avenue and the Los Banos internment
camp in Manila. In the camps, 3,768 American and Allied male and female civilians, including
survivors of US merchant ships, were interned during the war. Around 390 of these prisoners
died from starvation and disease.
They were liberated on February 3, 1945, by elements of the US 44th Tank Battalion whose
lead tank crashed through the locked gates of the compound and accepted the surrender of
the camp from the Commandant, Colonel Hayashi. The Los Banos Internment Camp,
containing 2,147 prisoners, was liberated on February 23, 1945, by troops of the US 11th
Airborne Division supported by Filipino guerrillas. All the nurses survived the war. Altogether
eighty-three US Army and Navy nurses became prisoners of war while serving in the Pacific
area. Throughout World War II over 59,000 American nurses, including 479 black nurses,
served in all theatres. A total of 201 nurses died, sixteen died as a direct result of enemy fire.
The Royal Air Force and the United States 8th Air Force, used around 180 airfields scattered
all over Britain. These airfields had over 4,000 miles of runways and taxi-ways. There was a
saying at the time, that a pilot could fly from Lands End to John O' Groats in the north of
Scotland, without getting off the ground!
On June 5, 1942, the United States declared war on Bulgaria, Hungary and Rumania. In
December, 1941, these three nations had declared war on the US. President Roosevelt
said ''I realize that the three governments took this action (to collaborate with Nazi Germany)
not upon their own initiiative or in response to the wishes of their own people but as instruments
Between June 12 and 16, 1942, eight German secret agents were landed on the US east coast.
Four were sent ashore from the German submarine U-202 near Amagansert on Long Island.
Another four were landed at Ponte Vedra Beach near Jacksonville on Florida's Atlantic coast
from the U-boat U-584. Their mission, to destroy a cryolite factory in Philadelphia. All had
arranged to meet on July 4th in Cincinnati. A number of these agents were German-Americans
trained by the Abwehr at their sabotage training school near Berlin. However, one of the team,
a greedy unscrupulous ex-waiter named George John Dasch, and his team-mate Ernest Peter
Burger, betrayed the whole operation to the FBI. Dasch carried on his person the sum of
$160,000 which was to be used for expenses during their stay in the US. He was determined
that the cash would stay in his own pocket. Soon after contacting the FBI, all eight agents
At their secret military trial, Dasch and Burger received lengthy jail sentences but the money
was taken off Dasch and deposited in the US Treasury Department vaults. The other six agents
met their date with destiny in the 18 year old electric chair in a room on the fourth floor of
Washington's District Jail. In 1948, after serving six years of their sentence, Dasch and
Burger were deported back to Germany.
The bombing of the MINERVA car factory in Antwerp on April 5, 1943, turned out to be one
of the major tragedies of WWII. The Erla factory was converted to repair workshops for
Luftwaffe planes and therefore on the priority list for attention by the US Eighth Air Force.
The bombing run was poor, due to evasive action being taken to avoid German fighters and
ground missiles. Two bombs hit the factory killing many workers but the rest of the bombs
were released too late and fell on the residential part of Mortsel, a suburb of Antwerp, over a
mile away from the target.
A total of 936 civilians were killed including 209 schoolchildren. Only 18 children survived the
bombing of the St. Lutgardis school at No 30 Mechelsesteenweg. (which still stands). In all,
342 people were injured and 220 houses destroyed. On March, 27, 1945, the last of the
German V2 rockets fell on Mortsel killing twenty-seven people. It was here in Mortsel that
Lieven Gevaert built his photographic film factory later known as Agfa-Gevaert.
THE BIGGEST USAF LOSS
The single biggest loss to the US 8th Air Force was when 291 B17s and B24s raided the
German ball-bearing factories at Schweinfurt, fifty miles northwest of Nuremberg on
October 14, 1943. This was the second raid by US Flying Fortresses on the five factories
producing ball bearings. The first was on August 17 involving 229 bombers. In the first
attack the Americans lost 36 bombers, in the second attack a total of 60 planes were shot
down or crashed on returning to base. A total of 599 airmen were killed and 40 wounded in
the largest and most sustained air battles of the European war. The bomber crews claimed
to have shot down 288 German aircraft. The actual figure, obtained after the war, was ... 27.
In Schweinfurt, 276 civilians were killed. In all, Schweinfurt suffered sixteen air raids, the
Americans by day and the British by night.
DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR (November 10, 1943)
A macabre incident involving the American destroyer USS Spence occurred just south of
Bougainville. The crew spotted a raft with four live Japanese on board. As the Spence drew
along side to attempt a rescue, the Japanese opened fire with a machine-gun. Rather than
face the shame of surrender the Japanese officer in charge of the raft then put his pistol in
each man's mouth and blew out the back of each man's skull. He then turned the gun on
himself and pulled the trigger. All four bodies fell into the water to be devoured by sharks.
The Japanese Bushido creed dictated that surrender was shameful and instilled in the
soldier that self-destruction was preferable to capitulation. To be captured was a fate worse
than death according to the Japanese code of honour. In the town of Bayombong in Luzon,
men of the US 37th Division entered a ward in the local hospital and found all the patients
dead. They were wounded Japanese soldiers who had been killed by their own comrades
rather than have them suffer the humiliation of capture.
An old B24 Liberator bomber, stripped of all equipment and fitted with a radio control system
to be operated from a 'mother' plane after the B24 crew had baled out, blew up in mid-air during
a trial flight in preparation for 'Operation Aphrodite' the code name for the bombing of the flying
bomb sites on the Continent. An electrical malfunction triggered the explosion killing the pilot
and co-pilot. The pilot was Lieutenant Joseph Kennedy, the older brother John F Kennedy the
future President of the USA.
DISASTER DURING 'OPERATION TIGER' (April 23-30, 1944)
In preparation for the D-Day landings on Utah beach, the US Forces were conducting a series
of exercises on a stretch of beach called Slapton Sands, near Plymouth. In an area comprising
around 30,000 acres a total of 3,000 people (750 families) 180 farms with livestock were
evacuated. This enormous task had to be completed in six weeks.
During the actual exercise, while manoeuvring for position in Lyme Bay on the night of April 27
the landing ships were attacked by nine German motor torpedo boats, E-boats, from Cherbourg
in France. Two of the landing craft, LST 507 and LST 531 were sunk and others damaged. On
board the two landing ships the casualties were severe, 638 men killed (197 sailors and 441
soldiers) and hundreds injured. This was more than ten times greater than the casualties
sustained in the real assault on Utah Beach on June 6 (43 Americans killed, 63 wounded).
Altogether, including casualties from other ships and those killed by friendly fire on shore, a
total of 946 Americans gave their lives during Operation Tiger. News of this disaster was kept
a closely guarded secret for many months.
In spite of all precautions taken to protect the secrets of D-day, some officers still engaged in
'Careless Talk'. One such case was that of US Major General Henry Miller, chief supply officer
of the US 9th Air Force, who, during a cocktail party at London's elegant Coleridge's Hotel,
talked freely about the difficulties he was having in obtaining supplies. He added that things
would ease after D-day declaring that would be before June 15. (When Eisenhower learned
of this discretion he ordered that Miller be reduced to the rank of colonel and sent back to the
US where shortly after, he retired from the service)
Around midnight on June 5, 1944, Private C. Hillman, of Manchester, Connecticut, serving
with the US 101st Airborne Division, was winging his way to Normandy in a C-47 transport
plane. Just before the jump, Private Hillman carried out a final inspection of his parachute.
He was surprised to see that the chute had been packed by the Pioneer Parachute Company
of Connecticut where his mother worked part time as an inspector. He was further surprised
when he saw on the inspection tag, the initials of his own mother!
D stands for Day, H for Hour. This expression was first used on September 20, 1918, during
World War I. The US First Army issued Field Order No 8 which read, "The First Army will
attack at H-Hour on D-Day with the object of forcing the evacuation of the St. Mihiel Salient".
After the landings on June 6, 1944, many believed that the D stood for 'Deliverance'.
D-DAY LANDINGS (June 6, 1944)
Utah Beach - 23,250 American troops were landed. US 1st Army 7 and 5 US Corps
Omaha Beach - 34,250 American troops were landed. " " 29 and 1 US Div.
Gold Beach - 24,970 British troops were landed. British Second Army 50 Division
Juno Beach - 21,400 Canadian troops were landed. " " 3 Canadian Div.
Sword Beach - 28,845 British troops were landed. " " 3 British Div.
By June 12, 326,000 troops were on the beaches, plus 54,000 vehicles. By July 2, another
929,000 men and 177,000 vehicles were put ashore. The ship armada at Normandy totalled
6,939 vessels of all kinds. In the 10 days after D-day (June 6 to June 16) a total of 5,287
Allied soldiers were killed. The number of French civilians killed during the landings has never
been established but must number in the hundreds. From D-Day till the end of the war,
British casualties were 30,280 dead and 96,670 wounded.
FIRST USE OF NAPALM
This was first used on July 17, 1944, when US P-38s attacked a fuel depot at Coutances,
near St Lo, France. The next use of napalm was in the Pacific when US forces invaded the
island of Tinian in the Marianas. It was also used in the bombing of Tokyo. This jellied fuel
became the standard fuel explosive, later used widely - and notoriously - during the Vietnam
US CHUTE'S DEADLY DELAY
The 957 men of the US 82nd Airborne Division suffered a 16% casualty rate on landing among
the Normandy hedgerows. Twenty five men were killed, fourteen missing and 118 wounded.
Everything depended on a quick dispersal after landing and to get to the nearest cover. The
delay caused by the difficulty of getting out of their chute harness proved fatal to many.
In later drops, the buckles were dispensed with and the British quick-release mechanism
G.I. RAPIST HANGED
The first Allied soldier to be hanged after D-Day was Private Clarence Whitfield, a black US
soldier of the 494th Port Battalion. He was convicted of the brutal rape of Aniela Skrzyniarz, a
Polish farm girl working on a farm at Vierville Sur Mer, just behind Omaha Beach, on June 14,
1944. On August 14, Private Whitfield was hanged on a gallows that was erected in the garden
of the Chateau at Canisy, five kilometres south of Saint Lo.
US AIRFORCE DISCLOSURE
On October 4, 1944, the US War Department discloses that a total of 11,000 men of the
US Air Force have been killed in 5,600 fatal air accidents since the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A US 8th Army Air Force B-24 Liberator bomber crashes into the Holy Trinity School in Lytham
Road in Freckelton, Lancashire, on August 23, 1944, killing 38 children. Twenty-three others,
including teachers, civilians and the three man bomber crew, also died. This was the worst
aircraft crash in Britain during the war. The bomber, from the American Base Air Depot No. 2
at nearby Warton, was on a test flight when the pilot received a radio signal to land immediately
as an electrical storm was heading their way. The B-24 never made it back to base but at 10.30
am crashed in heavy rain into the village school. The village centre was turned into a sea of
flames as nearly 3,000 gallons of aviation fuel ignited.
Nearly 649,000 of these vehicles were produced during WW11, 631,873 were delivered to the
US Army and Air Force. Mostly used to support the Allied armed forces in war. In 1939 the
US Military asked 135 companies to submit designs for an all-purpose vehicle. Only three
companies responded to the request, Willys, Ford and Bantam. Willys-Overland was granted
the manufacturing contract. The word 'Jeep' comes from the code letters GP the G meaning
Government and the P a code letter meaning '80 inch wheelbase reconnaissance car' the name
given to the Ford prototype and adopted by Willys as their trade mark. When slurred together
the letters GP sounds like 'Jeep'. Peak production at the Willys-Overland plant in Toledo, Ohio,
was one Jeep every 80 seconds.
The US Army suffered a total of 929,307 cases of 'Battle Fatigue' during the war. In June alone,
in Normandy, an alarming 10,000 men were treated for some form of battle fatigue. Between
June and November, 1944, this amounted to a staggering 26% of all US casualties.
THE LOST DIVISION
This was the name given to the American soldiers who had deserted in France and in Germany
at the end of 1945. They numbered around 19,000, many living on farms and working as
labourers, as black market racketeers, or in safe hiding places in their new found girl friends'
houses. By 1948, about 9,000 had been found. In 1947, the British Government announced an
offer of leniency for British deserters and 837 gave themselves up.
GLEN MILLER DISAPPEARS WITHOUT A TRACE
On December 15, 1944, an American Dodge staff car, driven by Staff Sergeant Edward
McCulloch of Oceanside, California, entered the small grass airfield at RAF Twinwood Farm
near London and deposited his two passengers near a waiting plane piloted by a 25-mission
pilot, Flight Officer Johnny Morgan. His passengers were a Lieutenant Colonel Norman
Baessell (General Goodrich's Executive Officer) 2nd Lieutenant Don Haynes, the band's
executive officer (there only to see the plane off) and the American band leader, Glenn Miller.
At 13.55 PM, the small UC-64A single engined Norseman plane with its three occupants took
off on a flight to Paris. Nothing was ever heard of the plane again. In Paris, members of the
band waited in their Hotel des Olympiades for news, only to be told that Glen Miller was
missing. (On Christmas Eve the band was greeted with wild enthusiasm as it played its first
concert without their leader).
On the same day, December 15, a force of 138 RAF Lancaster bombers was returning from an
aborted raid on Siege (east of Cologne). Carrying a full bomb load, the Lancaster was a difficult
plane to land, and in such circumstances all bombers had to jettison their load over the
Channel in an area designated as the 'Southern Jettison Area'. While jettisoning their bomb
loads, the crew of a Lancaster from 149 Squadron saw a small plane crash into the sea below
them. Forty-two years later, when the Lancaster crew were traced and contacted in New
Zealand, they swore that the plane they had seen was a Norseman. The mystery remains
to this day. Did the Norseman stray off course into the prohibited area only to be downed by
bombs falling from the Lancaster bombers above? The chances of finding the small plane on
the bed of the Channel are a million to one against.
Glenn Miller gave his last concert at the Queensbury All Services Club in Soho, London, on
December 12, 1944. Later, in 1945, one of the venues for a band concert, without their leader,
was at Nuremberg Stadium. Performed in front of thousands of cheering GIs on the same field
where many Hitler Youth ceremonies took place. Today, the control tower at Twinwood Farm
has been completely refurbished and dedicated to Major Glen Miller and the American Band of
the AEF. For full details of the Glen Miller Band during their six months stay in Britain, see
Chris Way's book "Glen Miller in Britain Then and Now".
General Eisenhower's talents did not greatly impress the British General Montgomery. At the
end of Montgomery's war diary, a special note, written by the famous general, stated "And so
the campaign in Northwest Europe is finished. I am glad; it has been a tough business ... the
Supreme Commander had no firm ideas as to how to conduct the war and was 'blown about
by the wind' all over the place ... the staff at SHAEF were completely out of their depth all the
time. The point to understand is if we had run the show properly the war could have been
finished by Christmas, 1944. The blame for this must rest with the Americans. To balance
this it is merely necessary to say one thing, i.e. if the Americans had not come along and
lent a hand , we would never have won the war at all."
The 'Battle of the Bulge' (December 16, 1944, to January 27, 1945) cost the Americans 8,497
killed and 46,170 wounded. A total of 20,905 men were reported missing, most of them
prisoners of war. German casualties amounted to 12,652 killed. This final offensive by
Germany delayed the Allied advance by six weeks. By January 28, the line was restored to
its original German starting point as at December 16. The majority of the American dead ,
including those from the Battle of the Huertgen Forrest, lie buried in the magnificently kept
US Military Cemetery at Hamm, near Luxembourg. It contains 5,076 graves plus the names
of 371 missing. The grave of General George S. Patton is also located here, the inscription
on his Italian marble cross reading... George S. Patton Jnr... General Third Army... California...
Dec 21, 1945.
THE EDDIE SLOVIK EXECUTION
At 10.05am on January 31, 1945, Private Eddie D. Slovik, 36896415, of Company G, 109th
Infantry Regiment, US 28th Infantry Division, was executed by a twelve man firing squad from
his own regiment. The execution took place in the garden of a villa at No 86, Rue de General
Dourgeois in the town of St. Marie-Aux-Mines near Colmar in eastern France. Slovik, the son
of poor Polish immigrants, was the only American since the Civil War to be shot for desertion.
The order for the execution was signed by General Eisenhower. Of the hundred thousand or
so GI deserters from the US Army, 2,864 were tried by general court-martial for desertion
since the war began. Forty-nine were sentenced to death but in only one case, that of Eddie
Slovik, was the sentence carried out. Colonel James E. Rudder of the 109th Infantry Regiment
would later write to his men "The person that is not willing to fight and die, if need be, for his
country has no right to life". The villa at No. 86 has since been demolished and three residential
apartment blocks have been built on the site. The street name has also been changed. Eddie
Slovik's widow died in Detroit on September 7, 1979 where she had been living under an
assumed name. In 1987, the remains of Eddie Slovik were returned to the USA and now lie
buried next to his wife, Antoinette, in the Woodmere Cemetery, Detroit, Michigan.
(During World War 1 over 300 British and Commonwealth soldiers were shot by firing squad
for alleged cowardice and desertion. Completely ignored was the fact that the majority of
these soldiers were sick, traumatised and clearly suffered from shell-shock)
A total of 49 US soldiers were hanged for crimes that were committed on French soil after the
D-Day landings. In the whole European theatre of operations, 109 civilians were murdered by
American soldiers. In Germany, 107 German nationals were murdered. At the same time:
214 US soldiers were also murdered by their own countrymen.
In France, there were 181 reported cases of rape by US Forces.
In Germany there were 552 reported cases of rape.
Those sentenced to death for various crimes amounted to 443 (245 white men and 198 coloured)
Only 21 per cent of those sentences of death were actually carried out.
(Only one Canadian soldier was executed in WW11, the charge being murder and black
SHEPTON MALLET PRISON
Britain's oldest jail was built in 1610 and used for executions up till 1926 when the last hanging
took place on Tuesday, March 2. During World War 11 this prison in Somerset was taken over
by the American Armed Forces for the executions of convicted US soldiers. An execution
chamber was added to one of the prison's wings and a British style gallows was installed as
the normal method of US Army hanging was not permitted in England. In all, 18 executions
were carried out in the prison, 9 were for murder, 6 for rape and 3 for both crimes. Eleven of
the condemned were Afro-Americans, three were Latino and four were white soldiers.
Seventeen were of the rank of private and one corporal. Rape was not a capital offence
under British law but was under US Military law. Sixteen of the executions were carried out
by hanging, the executioners being Albert Pierrepoint and his nephew Tom Pierrepoint. Two
executions for murder were by firing squad, the first on May 30, 1944 and the second on
November 28, 1944. Shooting by firing squad was the usual sentence in the case of a soldier
convicted of a purely military offence, i.e.. killing of an officer or fellow soldier.
Cell No 10 in Shepton Mallet prison was used to store some of Britain's national treasures
including a copy of the Magna Carta, the Doomsday Book and the logs of Nelson's Flagship,
The first US flag, the Stars and Strips, raised on Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima, was
considered too small (54 by 28 inches) for such an important victory. Another, much
larger flag (96 by 56 inches) was procured from a beached Tank Landing Ship, LST-779
and raised on the Mount on February 23, 1945, just as press photographer Joe Rosenthal
took his famous picture. The two flags were preserved by the marines and are now
displayed in the US Marine Corps Museum in Quantico, Virginia. The first flag raising
was photographed by combat photographer Louis R Lowrey but being a less dramatic
picture was never given the publicity of the Rosenthal photograph. In the bloodiest fighting
of the Pacific war, 4,554 Americans were killed including 170 Navy frogmen who died
attempting to clear beach defences on Iwo Jima. Japanese casualties included around
21,900 dead. (On March 16 the island of Iwo Jima was declared secure, only a small
pocket of 200 Japanese were still active. The final suicidal assault by the trapped
Japanese troops ended in the deaths of 196)
The code name for the American attempt to starve the Japanese into submission in early
August, 1945. The US Navy and Air Force blockaded Japan's inner waters and harbours
by laying 12,135 mines the result of which around 670 ships of all sizes were sunk or put
out of commission. On August 6 the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and the
second bomb dropped on Nagasaki on the 9th. Japan agreed to surrender unconditionally
on August 14. (Japanese casualties in all theatres from 1937 to 1945 were 1,140,429 killed
PRISONERS OF WAR IN THE USA
On February 8, 1945, the US Army announces that there are 359,258 POW's interned in
the USA. These include 305,873 Germans, 50,561 Italians and 2,820 Japanese. In all, 666
POW camps were set up in the USA during the war.
On February 10, 1945, in the village of Hameau-Pigeon on the Cherbourg peninsula,
hundreds of black US troops were made to witness a double hanging. Two black US
soldiers (Privates Yancy and Skinner) were convicted of murder and rape and sentenced
to death. Among the spectators were twenty French witnesses including nineteen year old
Marie Osouf, the girl who was raped and the family of Auguste Lebarillier, Maria's boy friend,
who was murdered.
On April 25, 1945, patrols of the US 69th Division's 273rd Infantry Regiment first made
contact with the Soviet Forces in the village of LECKWITZ on the Elbe river. The nearby
village of TORGAU has been incorrectly reported as the first meeting place (it was in fact
the second) and as such is mentioned in nearly all history books.
On April 17, 1945, a special team of American Intelligence agents searched a castle in the
Hartz mountains belonging to Baron Witilo Griesheim. In room after room the agents found,
staked in piles, hundreds of thousands of documents representing the entire archives of the
German Foreign Ministry. Some documents dated from 1871. When the war ended, it took
a fleet of over one hundred trucks to transport the archives to Berlin. The complete records
of Goebbels' Propaganda Ministry were uncovered in a salt mine, 1,300 feet underground,
near Grasleben. In a room in the Hotel Kyffhauser in Sangerhausen, were found the SS
Marriage Bureau Files. The Bureau was responsible for investigating the background of
all SS personnel and their brides to be. Permission was granted only to those who could
prove to be one hundred per cent pure 'Aryan'. Note: There is no "Aryan" Race!
WELCOME TO LEIPZIG
The task of capturing the German city of Leipzig was given to the US 2nd Infantry Division
and the US 69th Division. The commander of Company G of the 2nd Division's 23rd Infantry
was Captain Charles B. MacDonald. The city surrendered on the 20th of April, 1945 without
much of a fight. As the troops entered the city they were surrounded by teeming crowds of
civilians and thousands of armed Wehrmacht soldiers, British and American prisoners of war
who were on work detail in the town and thousands of slave workers. The chief of the city's
police, General von Grolman, welcomed them with a generous supply of cognac and
champagne. Captain McDonald returned to his battalion headquarters for further orders
which were to pull his men out from the city. He drove back to Leipzig once more to
negotiate the surrender only to find a real binge was taking place, his men now in an
advanced stage of intoxication and were really whooping it up with the city's fairer sex.
Disappointment followed when they sobered up to find the US 69th Division
(General Reinhardt) had entered the city from the south-east and claimed the kudos for
capturing the town. But not everyone was happy that April day. In an office in the Town
Hall, Alfred Freyburg, the town's mayor, was found seated at his desk, dead. His wife
and daughter sat opposite on armchairs, both dead from poison each had taken. Next
door, the city's treasurer, Dr Kurt Lisso, lay slumped on his desk while nearby on a
sofa lay his wife and 20 year old daughter. All had committed suicide. (As Leipzig lay
in the future Russian Zone of Germany, the city was handed over to Soviet troops on
July 2, 1945. The Soviet occupation would last for the next 44 years)
On May 28, 1945, all British and American merchant ships on the Atlantic and Indian
oceans were now allowed to show their full navigation lights and need no longer darken
ship. Convoys were abolished. These conditions did not apply to the Pacific theatre.
Iva Ikuko Toguri, an American citizen with Japanese parents. War broke out when she
was visiting her parents in Japan and she decided to stay on and work for the Japanese
Broadcasting Company. She was given the name 'Tokyo Rose' by the GIs who listened
to her radio show. Although she never used the nickname she introduced herself as
'Orphan Ann' during her 'Music for You' segment on Radio Tokyo's English-language '
The Zero Hour'. There were more than one Tokyo Rose, American GIs branded all
female radio broadcasters with the name and there were at least a dozen but she
was the only one persecuted. After the war she was wrongly convicted of treason
and after spending some time in prison (about six years) she was pardoned by
President Gerald Ford in 1977. Iva Toguri died in September, 2006, in Chicago. She was 90.
Richard Sakakida was a native of Hawaii and son of Japanese parents. As a naturalized
American he joined the C.I.C. (US Counter Intelligence Corps). Sent on a secret mission
to the Philippines, he was taken prisoner when the Japanese invaded that country. While
working for the enemy as an interpreter, he was able to arrange meetings with the guerrilla
forces. Their leader, Ernest Tupas, and many of his followers were locked up in Muntinglupa
prison in Manila. Sakakida and a group of guerrillas, dressed in Japanese uniforms, entered
the prison and overpowering the guards, released Tupas and nearly 500 of his followers,
most of whom fled to the mountains to continue their guerrilla activities. After the war,
Richard Sakakida was awarded the US Bronze Star for his part in one of the greatest jail
breaks of the war.
During the Pacific war, 291 American airmen were interned in the Soviet Union. They
were the crews of 37 planes which had to make emergency landings on Soviet soil
after bombing operations over Japan. All were interned in a camp near Tashkent
from which most of them 'escaped' to Teheran in Iran. The dilemma these prisoners
created for the Soviets was that under international law, a neutral country during
wartime (the Soviet Union and Japan were not at war) was prohibited from releasing
combatants from belligerent countries who came into their custody. The so-called
'escapes' were secretly negotiated between the US and the Soviet Union. (In spite
of its neutrality treaty with Russia, the Japanese military contemplated an attack
on Russia from the east but in one of the most fateful decisions of the war decided
instead to intensify their push south into Indonesia)
FEAR IN WAR
In a research into Fear in Combat, the US Army questioned the men of four divisions, a
total of 6,020 men.
304 admitted to a violent pounding of the heart
254 to a sinking stomach feeling
207 to shaking and trembling
190 to a sick stomach
183 to coming out in a cold sweat
74 to vomiting
46 to losing control of the bowels
28 to urinating in their pants.
US SERVICEMEN: FIT FOR DUTY?
From 1941 to 1945, a total of 17,955,000 Americans were medically examined for induction
into the armed forces. Some 6,420,000 (35.8 percent) were rejected as unfit because of
some physical disability. Altogether, 16,112,566 Americans served their country in World
War II. A total of 38.8 percent (6,332,000) were volunteers. In all, 405,399 American service
men and women gave up their lives in a war that cost the US $288 Billion Dollars.
Around 48,000 European women, with 22,000 children, emigrated to Canada during and after
the Second World War. Today in Canada there are some 300,000 children or grandchildren
of these War Brides. Over one million American GIs were stationed in Britain in the two years
preceding D-Day. Approximately 130,000 were black Americans. Near 70,000 British girls
married their GI boy friends and 47,000 married their Canadian soldier. About 20,000 children
were born to these GIs and just under 1,000 were black children. By 1950, a total of 14,175
German and 758 Japanese war brides arrived in the USA. In Australia, by 1950, about 650
Japanese girls married their Aussie boy friends and were admitted to Australia when the
admission ban was lifted in 1952. Many of these brides experienced prejudice, jealousy
and resentment by Australian women who were enraged that their soldiers had chosen
foreign girls as wives. Some 7,000 Australian women married their American GI boy
friends and travelled to the USA as war brides. Between 1946 and 1949 some 20,000
German women immigrated to the USA to start a new life with their American husbands
or boy friends. Most found that they were anything but welcome. (The first US troops
arrived in Brisbane, Queensland, on Christmas Eve, 1941).
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
America's most famous military cemetery, comprising 657 acres, is situated on a hillside
overlooking the Potomac River in Washing DC. In this beautifully landscaped area the focal
point is Arlington House where Robert E Lee, of Confederate Army fame, lived for thirty
years of his life. Requisitioned by the Union Army for a military cemetery during the
American Civil War the cemetery now contains over 250,000 graves. The first burial took
place on May 13, 1864, when Private William Christman, a soldier of the 67th Pennsylvania
Infantry, was laid to rest. In the Memorial Amphitheatre is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
from World War 1. In front of the tomb are two sunken crypts, one containing the remains of
an Unknown Soldier from World War 11, the other containing the remains of an Unknown
Soldier from the Korean War. There is no Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from the Vietnam
War as each soldier who fought and died in that conflict has been identified. Instead a
special plaque dedicated to those who died was unveiled on November 11, 1978, by
President Jimmy Carter.
W.A.S.P. (WOMEN'S AIRFORCE SERVICE PILOT)
Originally named 'Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron', an organization responsible for
ferrying planes from the factories to airfields across the USA and Canada. Disbanded on
December 20, 1944, after having delivered 12,650 planes of 77 different types. Of the 1,074
women who graduated, thirty eight lost their lives during the war. This was equal to one
fatality in every 16,000 hours of flying. Eleven were killed while training. The first casualty
was pilot Cornelia Fort, killed on March 21, 1943, in a mid-air collision near Abilene, Texas,
while ferrying a Vultee BT-13 trainer. As of December 1, 2006, only about 350 of the 1,074
are still alive.
These brave women, who gave their lives for their country, were deemed ineligible for burial
with military honours. They were given a second class funeral without the American flag.
The 7.65mm Walther pistol presented to Adolf Hitler on his 50th birthday by the Walther
Waffenfabrik Weapon Factory is now owned by Andrew Wright of the Wright Historical
Museum at Swift Current in Canada.
This is not the gun used when Hitler committed suicide on April 30, 1945. It has been
established that this gun now belongs to a German citizen who was present in the
Bunker on that fateful day. However, he refuses to be identified or photographed.
The .38 Smith & Wessen model K Military Police revolver used by Herman Göring is
now in the West Point Museum, as is the .380 Colt semi-automatic pistol once owned
by General Eisenhower.
Reich Marshal Herman Göring's jewel encrusted baton, valued at $35,000, is on permanent
display in the US Military Academy at West Point.
The field-marshal's baton of Admiral Karl Donitz is on display at the Shropshire Regimental
Museum at The Castle in Shrewsbury, England. Two pennants, the Admiral's pennant and
the Reichsfuher's flag, taken from Donitzs' car, are displayed in the Herefordshire Regimental
Museum at the Hereford TA Centre.
General Paton's car, a 1939 French assembled Cadillac, in which he was riding when he
sustained his fatal injury, can be seen in the Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armour at Fort
Knox, Kentucky. The car was repaired after the accident and returned to service until the
late 40s. His specially converted jeep is preserved at the Fort Lee Quartermaster Museum
in Virginia. His two ivory-handed revolvers, not a matched pair, are also at Fort Knox.
The three caravans used by General Montgomery during the North Africa and European
campaigns are on view in the Imperial War Museum in London.
The leather greatcoat worn by Field Marshal Erwin Rommel is displayed in the Rommel
Museum at Merse Matruh, Egypt, one hundred miles west of El Alamein
The brass container, made out of a spent cartridge case, in which held the phial of poison
that Goring used to commit suicide is now held in the private collection of author Ben E.
Swearingen of Lewisville, Texas.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO....
MAJOR RICHARD BONG
America's leading air ace with 40 kills in the Pacific theatre. A Congressional Medal of Honor
winner, he was killed on August 6, 1945 when his P-80 Shooting Star suffered a flame-out on
take off and crashed. Major Richard Ira Bong is buried in the Poplar Cemetery in Wisconsin.
COLONEL DAVID SCHILLING
American pilot with 25 kills in the European theatre. He survived the war and returned to the
USA. In 1948 he returned to England with the 56th Fighter Group. Whilst in England, he was
killed on August 14, 1956, near Eriswell in Suffolk, when his sports car hit a concrete
GENERAL GEORGE S. PATTON
Commander of the US 3rd Army and later the US 15th Army. On Sunday, December 9,
1945, he was being driven by twenty-three old Private Horace Woodring in a 1939 Cadillac f
or an afternoon of pheasant shooting on the estate of a German friend. At 11.45am they
were passing through the outskirts of Mannheim when a US Army truck turned left in front
of the Cadillac to enter the Quartermaster Corps camp. It appeared to be a minor accident
but the collision broke the neck of the General who died a few days later at the US Military
Hospital in Heidelberg from a pulmonary embolism in the left lung. (Patton's grave can be
seen in the American War Cemetery at Hamm. outside Luxembourg)
GENERAL FRANK MAXWELL ANDREWS
Often referred to as the 'father of the United States Air Force'. In February, 1943, he took
over from General Eisenhower as Commanding-General of the European Theatre of
Operations. Iceland was part of the ETO and an inspection of the bases there was
scheduled for April. A Liberator B-24 bomber named 'Hot Stuff' was put at his disposal
for the flight to Iceland. The plane and crew had completed 29 of its 30 missions and
was due to return to the US for a triumphant tour. The crew were disappointed that
their last mission was not to be a bombing raid over Germany. At 8 PM on Monday
May 3, 1943, General Andrews and staff took off from Bovington airfield. Over Iceland
they encountered foul weather, low cloud, mist and rain. The aircraft crashed into the
slope of a 1,600-foot mountain. Of the 15 persons on the plane, there was only one
survivor, Staff Sergeant George Eisel, the tail gunner.
INCIDENTS OF FRIENDLY FIRE
FRIENDLY FIRE (Pearl Harbor)
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, US army personnel started digging trenches along the
beaches in anticipation of a seaborne invasion. Every fifty feet or so along the beach, a
gun crew with 30 calibre machine guns took up their positions. At around 8pm on
December 7th, seven planes were seen trying to land on an airstrip on Ford Island.
Misjudging the length of the runway the pilots decided to go around again for a second
try. As the planes came around again the gunners, thinking they were Japanese,
opened fire and shot down all seven. The planes were their own aircraft from the carrier
USS Enterprise out at sea.
These Facts came from the US Census Bureau
Proud to Serve
The number of U.S. armed forces personnel who served in World War II between Dec. 1, 1941,
and Dec. 31, 1946.
The average length of active-duty by U.S. military personnel during WWII.
Serving Abroad …
The proportion of U.S. military personnel who served abroad during WWII.
The average time U.S. personnel served overseas during WWII.
The number of U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines killed in battle in WWII.
The number of other deaths sustained by U.S. forces during WWII.
And the Wounded:
The number of U.S. troops wounded during WWII.
The number of World War II veterans counted in Census 2000. The census identified the
period of service for World War II veterans as September 1940 to July 1947.
The estimated number of WWII veterans living in California in 2002, the most in any state.
Other states with high numbers of WWII vets included Florida (439,000), New York (284,000),
Pennsylvania (280,000), Texas (267,000) and Ohio (208,000).
The proportion of WWII veterans among the Clearwater, Fla., civilian population age 18 and
over in 2000. Other large places (100,000 or more population) with high concentrations of
WWII vets were: Cape Coral, Fla. (5.1 percent), Oceanside, Calif. (4.3 percent); and
Scottsdale, Ariz.; Pueblo, Colo., Metairie, La., St. Petersburg, Fla.; Santa Rosa, Calif.;
Mesa, Ariz.; and Independence, Mo. (all around 4 percent).
The estimated number of women in 2002 who were WWII veterans. These women comprised
4.4 percent of WWII vets.
The proportion of all veterans in April 2000 who were WWII veterans.
76.7 years old
The median age of WWII veterans four years ago when the last census was conducted.
The proportion of WWII veterans who were still employed in 2000.
The number of WWII veterans in 2002 who received compensation for service-connected
disabilities, about half the number in 1990 (876,000) and nearly two-thirds less than the
nearly 1.2 million disabled WWII vets in 1980.
The projected national expenditure for veteran’s benefits in 2004.
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