10 Odd Tidbits from World War 2

If ever a saying would be crowned, that’s “war is Hell!”. Unanimously considered one of the most atrocious conflagrations in human history, the six-year conflict claimed of over 85 million people and scarred the lives of twice as many.

In memory of all the men and women who have sacrificed everything for a better tomorrow, we have prepared a modest article that highlights some of the least-known facts about World War 2. So, without further ado, here are 10 odd tidbits from the second war to end all wars.

The Man who lived to tell the tale (Twice!)

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki marked the end of the Second World War. Regrettably, over 200,000 people had to pay with their lives for this late capitulation.

Historical records reveal that Tsutomu Yamaguchi, a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries oil tank designer, managed to survive both Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Although suffering burn injury to his torso and was left partially deft, Yamaguchi managed to somehow outlive the horrendous nuclear fallout effects.

To hell with the parachute!

Lancaster bombers were a crucial part of the Allies’ European offensive. Although under constant attack from Goering’s Luftwaffe, they emerged victorious most of the time. While a bombing run’s not what you might call a common thing, some may be odder than the others.

An RAF Avro Lancaster bomber’s log revealed that on a particular mission, airman Nicholas Alkemade, who was a flight sergeant, was jettisoned from the plane.

With no time to grab a parachute, fell from 18,000 feet and landed in a haystack. The result of this incident – sergeant Alkemade was hospitalized for a sprained leg!

The simple bare necessities

Everyone knows that every company has some sort of mascot. The Polish 22nd Transport Artillery Company had more than that. During their service in the Middle East, the soldiers found an abandoned bear cub and decided to adopt it.

To repay its debts, the bear, whom the troops called Wojtek, would entertain the troops by smoking, drinking, dancing, and even wrestling with some of them.

But Wojtek was more than a mere mascot – in his own way, the bear contributed to the war effort by supplying front-line troops with ammo and sometimes charging towards enemy lines.

Hide-and-seek champions

Camouflage and concealment are much a part of the war as mortar barrages and air strikes. However, one Dutch warship took this hide-and-seek game to the next level.

In an attempt to escape detection and subsequent imprisonment from Japanese forces, the captain of a Dutch warship called Abraham Crijnssen ordered his crew to disguise the ship into a tropical island. The tactic was so effective that the warship slipped unnoticed.

Dead to the world, alive for the journey

In 1939, while in a meeting with Adolph Hitler and Hermann Goering, Emil Hacha, Czechoslovakia’s president, suffered a massive heart attack. Despite his declining conditions, the cabinet ordered that should be kept awake via drugs long enough to sign the surrender. Not doing so, would have resulted in invasion and bombings.

“Unforgettable; that’s what you are.”

Following the fall of Germany’s Third Reich, as many as 3,000,000 combatants were taken prisoners Allied Forces. Though the Soviet Army’s brutality rivaled SS’s display of power in concentration camps, some were lucky enough to stumble upon more lenient jailors.

History reveals that all the German soldiers imprisoned in Canada were so taken aback by the way that they were treated that they felt bad after being repatriated. Charmed by the country and good-mannered people, many who went back to Germany after the war was over moved to Canada.

Snakes in the grass


What was coined by history as the Battle of Britain was mostly a never-ending struggle between what seemed to be the limitless German air force and a handful of brave RAF airmen.

Day and night, Londoners were harassed by Stuka bombers which level area without any strategic or military importance.

The city of London was forced to take draconic measures to ensure the safety of its inhabitants. One such measure involved the culling of all venomous snake species from zoos in and around London.

It may strike you as odd, but there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation behind it: if the snake got loose during one of the bombings, the citizens would be at risk.

The friendly neighborhood torturer

Though hundreds of history pages have been written about the Nazi regime’s cruel torturing methods, it would appear that some of them were more ‘humane’ than the others. Hans Scharff was one of the best Nazi interrogators, but his methods were slightly different than those of his peers.

It would appear that Herr Scharff rejected everything involving physical or phycological violence in prisoner interrogation.

Instead of using scopolamine or a torture kit, the torturer would take the prisoners to lunch or for a swim. Sometimes he would hike would them.

As strange as this might seem, Scharff would obtain all the information he needed without even a laying a finger on the POW.

Rumors of his humane information-extraction methods got out after the war was over that he was granted a full US citizenship. He spent the remainder of his life in the US, where he pursued an artistic career.

Sweet, home…Italy

Nutella, considered by many a decadent delight, was actually born during the Second World War. Confronted with a shortage of cocoa, Italian pastry maker Pietro Ferrero, the inventor of Nutella, combined hazelnuts with cocoa in an attempt to use less, well, cocoa.

The result was an incredible spread that went on to made history. Although uncredited, Ferrero is also the man behind the Tic-Tac and Kinder recipes.

And the waters will run…. yellow

Years of combat on the Western Front took a great toll on the US troops – crawling from foxhole through foxhole every day, repelling counter-attacks, assaulting enemy hardpoints; all in a day’s work for a US Marine.

Though left out of the history books, apparently, when the GI’s reached the Rhine in 1945, the first thing they did was to urinate in the stream.

Not by chance, but by order – they were actually following the example of General Patton, who was among the first to express his hatred for the war by relieving himself in the Rhine.

These were out tidbits from the Second World War. What are your thoughts on this? Hit the comment section and let us know.

About Vladimir Unterfingher

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