Odd But True Facts About
World War Two

More Odd Facts


Write a review.

Stories dating back to the American Civil War have been told about Bibles saving soldiers from dying, but it wasn't until WW2 broke out that Bible companies began putting a metal plate on the front cover. Called "Heart-Shield Bibles" many were etched with the words, "May this keep you safe from harm."

While the war raged on, business, trade and commerce continued between the belligerent nations. Usually with a neutral nation acting as a go between. This resulted in having the lens of the American's super secret Norden bomb sight being made by the German camera company, Zuess. That was fair because the German fighters trying to shoot down the bombers were made from aluminum from the ALCOA Aluminum Company of New Kensington, Pennsylvania.


Two days before D-Day, all (11,550 in all) aircraft participating in the invasion were painted with "Invasion Strips" to be better identified and not shot down by their own side. The painting consumed ALL of the white paint in Britain.

The Battleship U.S.S. Nevada (BB36)was torpedoed, bombed and run aground during the attack on Pearl Harbor. She was the only battleship that got underway that day. With the Captain and Executive Officer ashore, Lieutenant Commander Francis J. Thomas gave the orders to get underway. On D day she supported Utah Beach with naval gun fire.

Garlin V. Shaw, was on the mine layer USS Oglala, anchored in Pearl Harbor. He woke up to pure chaos as the Japanese planes attacked the base. Grabbing an armload of files he was assigned to protect, he made it to the deck (clad only in his "skivvies"), only to see a torpedo heading straight for his ship. At the last instant, the torpedo veered away from the Oglala and hit the ship next to it, the light cruiser, USS HELENA. The explosion capsized my dad's ship, and as it began to list, he slid across the deck on his knees before falling overboard and hitting a patch of sea water that wasn't coated with burning fuel or debris. He survived the attack and lived a full life until 1986.

Having survived the attack, he was sent to officer school and wound up fighting WWII all over the Pacific theater. He remained in the US Navy for 25 years, then went on to a second career at the world-famous San Diego Zoo, where he became its Chief Of Security. One of his assignments there was as a personal escort to the visiting Emperor of Japan! Fortunately, he was totally profession and bore no grudge!


David "Carbine" Williams

David M. Williams invented the M-1 Carbine while serving a prison sentence for Second Degree Murder. Upon his release he applied for and was granted a patent (#11.879). The weapon was named the "Carbine" because that was Bill's nickname in prison. PROOF

The Colonel Bogey March

Who hasn't whistled this tune. Maybe without knowing the title. Had the lyrics been a little more famous, the Colonel Bogey March would not have been featured in the movie. Sing along...
Hitler,
Has only got one ball.
Goering,
Has two, but they are very small.
Himmler,
Has something sim'lar,
but poor old Goebbels,
Has no balls at all.

Click here for the origins of the song and lyrics.

Monopoly games manufactured in England were really escape kits for POWs. 35,000 POWs escaped from Germany and Italy. About one third of these credited the contraband games for their escape.Read more about it.


This is Glenn Edward McDuffie Proof

Hitler and Eva Braun are buried under a garbage dump in what was East Germany. Join the Discussion.


Hitler and Eva Braun at Home

Hitler's personal phone number to his Berlin bunker was 12-00-5-0

Hitler signed his last order with a blue crayon.

The first German serviceman killed in the war was killed by the Japanese (China, 1937), the first American serviceman killed was killed by the Russians (Finland 1940), the highest ranking American killed was LtGen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for allies.

The youngest US serviceman was 12 year old Calvin Graham, USN. He was wounded in combat and given a Dishonorable Discharge for lying about his age. (His benefits were later restored by act of Congress)

At the time of Pearl Harbor the top US Navy command was called CINCUS (pronounced "sink us"), the shoulder patch of the US Army's 45th Infantry division was the Swastika, and Hitler's private train was named "Amerika". All three were soon changed for PR purposes.


45th Infantry Division



More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. While completing the required 25 missions your chance of being killed was 71%.

Not that bombers were helpless. A B-17 carried 4 tons of bombs and 1.5 tons of machine gun ammo. The US 8th Air Force shot down 6,098 fighter planes, 1 for every 12,700 shots fired.

. Generally speaking there was no such thing as an average fighter pilot. You were either an ace or a target. For instance Japanese ace Hiroyoshi Nishizawa shot down over 80 planes. He died while a passenger on a cargo plane.

It was a common practice on fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a mistake. The tracers had different ballistics so (at long range) if your tracers were hitting the target 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet the tracers instantly told your enemy he was under fire and from which direction. Worst of all was the practice of loading a string of tracers at the end of the belt to tell you that you were out of ammo. This was definitely not something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rate go down.


The term "The whole 9 yards" came from WWII fighter pilots in the Pacific.When arming their airplanes on the ground, the .50 caliber machine gun ammo belts measured exactly 27 feet, before being loaded into the fuselage. If the pilots fired all their ammo at a target, it got "the whole 9 yards."

Balls to the Wall

Meaning - To move real fast. Origin: World War Two fighter pilot slang. The engine throttles were topped by little balls. The throttle was advanced by being pushed forward. If the throttles were at maximum power, the balls were to the wall (the instrument panel).



When allied armies reached the Rhine the first thing men did was pee in it. This was pretty universal from the lowest private to Winston Churchill (who made a big show of it) and Gen. Patton (who had himself photographed in the act).

General Patton on the Rhein River

German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but the Germans thought it wasn't worth the effort.

The Russians destroyed over 500 German aircraft by ramming them in mid-air (they also sometimes cleared minefields by marching over them). "It takes a brave man not to be a hero in the Red Army" - Joseph Stalin

The US Army had more ships than the US Navy.

The German Air Force had 22 infantry divisions, 2 armor divisions, and 11 paratroop divisions. None of them were capable of airborne operations. The German Army had paratroops who WERE capable of airborne operations. Go figure.

When the US Army landed in North Africa, among the equipment brought ashore was 3 complete Coca Cola bottling plants.

Coca-Cola CEO Robert Woodruff made a point of supporting US troops so metal cans were introduced to meet their needs. In 1941, when the United States entered the war, Woodruff decided that Coca Cola's place was near the front line.

He sent an order to:

"See that ever man in uniform gets a bottle of Coca Cola for 5 cents wherever he is and whatever the cost to the company".




Among the first "Germans" captured at Normandy were several Koreans. They had been forced to fight for the Japanese Army until they were captured by the Russians then forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans then forced to fight for the German Army until they were captured by the US Army.

German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.

The only nation that Germany declared war on was the USA.

During the Japanese attack on Hong Kong British officers objected to Canadian infantrymen taking up positions in the officers' mess. No enlisted men allowed you know.

Nuclear physicist Niels Bohr was rescued in the nick of time from German occupied Denmark. While Danish resistance fighters provided covering fire he ran out the back door of his home stopping momentarily to grab a beer bottle full of precious "Heavy Water". He finally reached England still clutching the bottle. It contained beer. I suppose some German drank the Heavy Water!!!!!
Niels Bohr

The Pentagon, in Arlington, Virginia, has twice as many bathrooms as is necessary. When it was built in the 1940s, the state of Virginia still had segregation laws requiring separate toilet facilities for blacks and whites.


Famous Veterans of World War Two


Audie Murphy, little 5'5" tall 110 pound guy from Texas who played cowboy parts in movies? He is the most Decorated serviceman of WWII and earned:
The Medal of Honor
The Distinguished Service Cross
2 Silver Star Medals
Legion of Merit
2 Bronze Star Medals with "V"
2 Purple Hearts
The U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal
The Good Conduct Medal
2 Distinguished Unit Emblems
The American Campaign Medal
The European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with One Silver Star
Four Bronze Service Stars (representing nine campaigns) and one Bronze Arrowhead (representing assault landing at Sicily and Southern France)
The World War II Victory Medal
The Army of Occupation Medal with Germany Clasp
The Armed Forces Reserve Medal
The Combat Infantry Badge
The Marksman Badge with Rifle Bar
The Expert Badge with Bayonet Bar
The French Fourragere in Colors of the Croix de Guerre
The French Legion of Honor,Grade of Chevalier
The French Croix de Guerre With Silver Star
The French Croix de Guerre with Palm
The Medal of Liberated France
The Belgian Croix de Guerre 1940 Palm

Murphy earned a battlefield commission to the rank of 2LT. He was appointed to West Point when the wounds he suffered disqualified him from military service. Upon medical discharge he found work in Hollywood.


Eddie Albert was awarded the Bronze Star as a Naval Landing Officer. He heroically evacuated wounded Marines during the invasion of Tarawa, NOV 1943.


Mel Brooks- Fought in the Battle of the Bulge as a corporal in the 1104 Engineer Combat Battalion, 78th Infantry Division.


TONY CURTIS- Born Bernard Schwartz, enlisted in the Navy in 1943 at the age of 17. Trained as a Signalman, he served with the Pacific Submarine Fleet. He went on one war patrol aboard the USS DRAGONET (SS-293) and was in Tokyo Bay to watch the surrender ceremonies with binoculars. He said, "As a youth, I remember seeing Cary Grant in 'Destination Tokyo' and Tyrone Powers in 'Crash Dive'. I knew right then and there that I wanted to be a submariner."


James Doohan (of Star Trek fame) was a true war hero. An enlisted man who rose to captain in the Royal Canadian Artillery, he was with the Royal Canadian Artillery on Juno Beach on D-Day. He was shot seven times, with an eighth bullet lodging in his metal cigarette case. Three bullets shredded the middle finger of his right hand. Eventually, the finger was amputated, which is occasionally noticeable in Star Trek episodes and movies.


Charles Durning was a 21-year-old Army Ranger on Omaha Beach, June 6th, 1944. Wounded, he was the only soldier in his outfit to survive the initial assault. He was wounded in Belgium, stabbed by a German teenager wielding a bayonet. He was taken prisoner during the Battle of the Bulge in December of 1944, and survived the infamous machine-gun massacre of over 100 US POWs at Malmady. He returned to the site of the crime to help identify the bodies.
Finally, as the war wound down and he helped to liberate the Nazi death camps, Charles Durning took a bullet to the chest, effectively ending his tour of duty.
He was awarded three Purple Hearts and the Silver Star. And he spent the ensuing four years in and out of hospitals.


Douglas Fairbanks Jr. - US Navy. He joined the naval reserves before the war. During the war he served on the Battleship Massachuesetts and was a Commando raider sent on several land attack missions. He retired from the reserves, years later, as a full Captain. He wrote about his war years in the book "A Hell of a War" which also covers his duties in helping organize the forerunners of today's Navy Seals.


Alec Guinness served in the Royal Navy throughout World War II, serving first as a seaman in 1941 and being commissioned the following year. While in the military Guinness for awhile planned on becoming an Anglican priest. He commanded a landing craft taking part in the invasion of Sicily and Elba and later ferried supplies to the Yugoslav partisans.


Bob Keeshan, also known as "Captain Kangaroo" was a Marine Sergeant in World War Two. He never saw combat.Click Here to see proof
[ed. note:Bob Keeshan died on January 22, 2004, age 76. Thanks for the Memories Bob.]


Ida Lupino was a lieutenant in the Women's Ambulance and Defense Corp in January, 1942. Ms. Lupino operated a switchboard in Brentwood, California that enabled her to quickly reach every ambulance post in the city of Los Angeles. After Pearl Harbor, Los Angeles was under a heavy attack threat and everyone was on high alert.


Lee Marvin,a private first class in the Marines received a Purple Heart for wounds received during the battle for Saipan in June 1944? He was wounded in his buttocks by fire which severed his sciatic nerve. His real name was Marvin Lee. When asked about the change he said that the Marine Corps did that and he got so used to answering to it, he kept it that way in civilian life. Marvin is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Proof

Ed McMahon was commissioned in the Marine Corps and was trained as a fighter pilot in the F4U Corsair. He served as an instructor pilot, never seeing combat. His assignment to the Marine Carrier Group was canceled when the atomic bomb was dropped. Reactivated for the Korean War. Ed flew the O-1E completing 85 missions and was awarded six Air Medals.


Alvy Moore was a voice talent for Disney before he enlisted in the Marine Corps and served on Iwo Jima. After the war Alvy returned to Disney and was on the Mickey Mouse Club. He is best known as "Hank Kimble" costarring with his fellow Veteran Eddie Albert on "Green Acres".


Donald Pleasance who played "The Forger" in "The Great Escape" was really a RAF pilot who was shot down and held as a pow by the Germans in World War II.


George C. Scott won an Oscar for his portrayal of General Patton. He really served as a Marine Sergeant in the European Theater.


Charles Bronson was a tail gunner. He completed 25 missions and was awarded the Purple Heart.


Ernest Borgnine who played the skipper in "Mc Cales Navy" was a Navy Gunner's Mate 1935-1945 serving in the South Pacific.


James Arness (Gunsmoke) As a private in the famed Third Infantry Division he earned a Bronze Star and the Purple Heart. Because of his stature, he was chosen to be first off the landing craft (to test the depth of the water) when his division landed at Anzio, Italy. He was subsequently wounded by enemy machine gun fire and spent eighteen months recovering in overseas and stateside hospitals.


Chuck Conners (The Rifleman) left college after two years, and in 1942 enlisted in the Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky. He spent most of the war as a tank-warfare instructor, stationed at Camp Campbell, Kentucky, and later at West Point.


Art Carney (The Honeymooners) A World War II veteran, served in France as an infantryman. Wounded in leg by shrapnel and was hospitalized for nine months. He walked with a limp for the rest of his life.


Loyal Reader, Tom Vallejos gave us the scoop on the next two.

James Stewart was a B-24 pilot ( not a B-17) and rose to the rank of Colonel and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross twice, the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Croix de Guerre. In 1959 in was promoted to Brigadier General. Click Here to see proof


Audio from a 1990 interview.


Clark Gable was a B-17 gunner in Europe. He attended the Officers' Candidate School at Miami Beach, Fla. and graduated as a second lieutenant on Oct. 28, 1942. He then attended aerial gunnery school and in Feb. 1943, on personal orders from Gen. Arnold, went to England to make a motion picture of aerial gunners in action. Click Here to see proof


Unedited film stock.


After graduating from Newtown High School, Rickles enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II as a Seaman First Class on the USS Cyrene (AGP-13) a motor torpedo boat tender . The USS Cyrene arrived at Leyte in the Pacific on 1 JAN 1945. He was honorably discharged in 1946.

Rickles (left) aboard USS Cyrene.


Gene Roddenberry joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941,and flew many combat B-17 Flying Fortress missions in the Pacific Theater with the 394th Bomb Squadron, the "Bomber Barons." He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal. On 2 August 1943, Roddenberry was the pilot of B-17E Flying Fortress, 41-2463, "Yankee Doodle", of the 394th BS, 5th BG, when it crashed on takeoff due to mechanical failure at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, killing 2 crew.


Mickey Rooney served in the U.S. Army in Europe. Rooney was trained as a sniper but was assigned to do morale boosting "Jeep Shows" along the front lines. While at the front, he was known to sneak away and as he put it, "Practice the craft that the Army had trained him to do." Rooney was awarded the Bronze Star with clusters.

Henry Fonda, who played the second Commander in Chief-Pacific (CINCPAC II) in In Harm's Way (1965), was actually a naval veteran of World War II who served in the Pacific Theater. After making The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), Fonda enlisted in the Navy to fight in World War II, saying, "I don't want to be in a fake war in a studio." He served in the Navy for three years, initially as a Quartermaster 3rd Class on the destroyer USS Satterlee; later, Fonda was commissioned as a Lieutenant Junior Grade (O-2) in Air Combat Intelligence. For his service in the Central Pacific, he won the Bronze Star, the fourth highest award for bravery or meritorious service in conflict with the enemy. After the War, Fonda starred in "Mister Roberts" on stage and later in the movie. The cap he wore as Cmdr Roberts was his uniform cap which he wore in the Navy.


Rod Steiger joined the Navy at age 16 to get away from home and served as a Torpedoman aboard a destroyer escorting the U.S.S. Hornet as part of Task Force 18 on the Doolittle Raid. Surprise was crucial and it was feared that the Task Force had been spotted by a Japanese fishing boats. Steiger was credited in sinking one of these vessels with machine gun fire.

FOR MORE FAMOUS VETERANS, CLICK HERE.


Join the discussion.


Lucky Puppy Search.


Click for more odd facts.