Here are a bunch of WWII facts I posted on another site:
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).
80% of Soviet males born in 1923 didn't survive World War 2
The highest ranking American killed was Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps.
Between 1939 and 1945 the Allies dropped 3.4 million tons of bombs, An average of about 27,700 tons of bombs each month.
12,000 heavy bombers were shot down in World War 2
2/3 of Allied bomber crews were lost for each plane destroyed
3 or 4 ground men were wounded for each killed
6 bomber crewmen were killed for each one wounded
Over 100,000 Allied bomber crewmen were killed over Europe
There were 433 Medals of Honor awarded during World War 2, 219 of them were given after the receipiant's death
From 6 June 1944 to 8 May 1945 in Europe the Allies had 200,000 dead and 550,000 wounded
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 Armys 45th Infantry division was the swastika, and Hitlers private train was named Amerika. All three were soon changed for PR purposes.
Germany lost 110 Division Commanders in combat
40,000 men served on U-Boats during World War 2; 30,000 never returned
More US servicemen died in the Air Corps that the Marine Corps. While completing the required 30 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.
Germanys power grid was much more vulnerable than realized. One estimate is that if just 1% of the bombs dropped on German industry had instead been dropped on power plants, German industry would have collapsed.
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 found with a tracer round to aid in aiming. That 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. That 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.
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).
German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City but it wasnt worth the effort.
A number of air crewmen died of farts. (ascending to 20,000 ft. in an un-pressurized aircraft causes intestinal gas to expand 300%!)
Germany lost 40-45% of their aircraft during World War 2 to accidents
The Russians destroyed over 500 German aircraft by ramming them in midair (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 average German officer slot had to be refilled 9.2 times
The US Army had more ships that 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.
When the US Army landed in North Africa, among the equipment brought ashore were 3 complete Coca Cola bottling plants.
84 German Generals were executed by Hitler
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 and forced to fight for the Russian Army until they were captured by the Germans and forced to fight for the German Army until they were capture by the US Army.
The Graf Spee never sank, The scuttling attempt failed and the ship was bought by the British. On board was Germanys newest radar system.
One of Japans methods of destroying tanks was to bury a very large artillery shell with on ly the nose exposed. When a tank came near the enough a soldier would whack the shell with a hammer. Lack of weapons is no excuse for defeat. Lt. Gen. Mataguchi
Following a massive naval bombardment, 35,000 US and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska. 21 troops were killed in the fire-fight. It would have been worse if there had been Japanese on the island.
The MISS ME was an unarmed Piper Cub. While spotting for US artillery her pilot saw a similar German plane doing the same thing. He dove on the German plane and he and his co-pilot fired their pistols damaging the German plane enough that it had to make a forced landing. Whereupon they landed and took the Germans prisoner. It is unknown where they put them since the MISS ME only had two seats.
Most members of the Waffen SS were not German.
Air attacks caused 1/3 of German Generals' deaths
By D-Day, the Germans had 1.5 million railway workers operating 988,000 freight cars and used 29,000 per day
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!
By D-Day, 35% of all German soldiers had been wounded at least once, 11% twice, 6% three times, 2% four times and 2% more than 4 times
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, which contained beer. Perhaps some German drank the heavy water
Germany lost 136 Generals, which averages out to be 1 dead General every 2 weeks
Napalm was first used on July 17, 1944, when US P-38s attacked a fuel depot at Coutances, near St.Lo, France.
On October 4, 1944 the US War Department discloses that a total of 11,000 men of the US Airforce have been killed in 5,600 fatal air accidents since the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The V1 rocket attack on Britain started on the night of 13/14 June, 1944 and ended on March 29, 1945. A total of 10,500 missiles were launched and 3,957 were destroyed by defences, 3,531 reached England and 2,353 fell on London. The death toll from these missiles was 6,184 killed in Britain and 17,981 persons were seriously injured. The V2 attack saw a total of 1,115 rockets arrive over England. 517 fell on London, killing 2,754 people, 6,523 were injured. The V2 attack lasted seven months. The first V2 rocket to land in England destroyed the home of Mr and Mrs Clarke at No 1, Staveley Road, London. On November 25th, 164 people were killed when another V2 rocket hit the Woolworth's store in South London. In charge of the entire missile project was Dr Hans Kammler (promoted to SS Major General). On September 8, 1944, at 6.48 pm, the first of Kammler's V2s exploded on London. In the closing days of the war, a search for Dr Kammler was launched but he was never found.
On July 20, 1944, a flight of Heinkel 177s, commanded by Obstlt. Horst von Riesen , was circling the Masury Lakes near Hitler's HQ in East Prussia, when the engine of one plane caught fire. An order to jettison the bomb load was given. By pure coincidence the bombs exploded at exactly the same time as Stauffenberg's bomb went off in the Führers conference room. On landing, Von Riesen was arrested and faced a court martial but was released some hours later when the bomb plot was confirmed.
In April, 1945, Captain James Green of the US Army Air Force, became the first person in history to be rescued by a helicopter. While searching for a downed transport plane in the Naga Hills in Burma, the light plane which he was flying, ran out of fuel and crashed in the jungle. A week later a search team reached the crash site to find Green barely alive. Badly injured, he could not be carried out. Back at the airfield at Shinbwiyang a small Sikorsky helicopter was available and the pilot, Lieutenant R. Murdock, decided to attempt a rescue. Barley clearing the mountains, the helicopter managed to land and airlifted Captain Green to safety.
The most destructive air raid of the war was against Japan's capital city, Tokyo. During the night of March 9/10, 1945, 1,665 tons of napalm-filled bombs was dropped on the city from 279 US B-29 bombers. The death toll was greater than that at Hiroshima or Nagasaki, the official count being 83,793 Japanese killed. Another 41, 000 were severely injured or burned. The Allied air attacks on Tokyo destroyed 15.8 square miles of the city.
On April 28, 1940, the 2,400 ton French destroyer Maillé Brézé, became a victim of its own weaponry when one of its own torpedoes accidentally fired and slithered along the main deck exploding under the bridge structure and completely wrecking the forepart of the ship. The British destroyer HMS Firedrake, rushed to the scene and rescued fifteen men who had slid down the hawse pipe. Other mangled bodies were recovered but those on the mess deck were doomed as the ship slowly sank taking with her 38 of her crew still trapped below.
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 caliber 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 US carrier Enterprise out at sea.
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!
After the Dunkirk evacuation, Churchill delivered his memorable speech to the House of Commons. Later in the day the speech was broadcast by the BBC to the rest of the world. What the listeners didn't know was that the speech was read by Norman Shelley who impersonated Churchill's voice. Winston had said "I am rather busy, get an actor to do it".
Lord Beaverbrook was later to exclaim "The Japanese are our relentless enemies, and the Americans our un-relenting creditors".
In 1937, a local businessman, an ardent follower of Adolf Hitler, planted a 60 by 60 metre area of Larch trees in a forest near the town of Zernikow, about 110 km north of Berlin. The trees were planted in the shape and format of a Swastika and could only be seen from the air. During Autumn, when the Larch trees changed their colour to orange and yellow they stood out strikingly against a green forest of surrounding pine trees. Discovered many years after the war, this long forgotten symbol of the Nazi era was finally removed by cutting down 27 of the 57 trees that made up the Swastika design. This was done in 2001 by the Brandenburg State Forest authorities. Local farmer, Joachim Schultz remarked "It was quite embarrassing. We were afraid that it could become a pilgrimage site".
Up till 1933, the German S.A. (Brownshirts) were equipped with revolvers and machine guns 'Made in USA'.
In the first British air attack on a mainland population center, 36 RAF planes bombed the rail-yards of Monchen Gladbach on May 10, 1940. The raid killed one person ... an Englishwoman
he 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 parlor. 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 Naha.
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".
Copenhagen, in German occupied Denmark, was a favourite spot for German officers on R & R. In an effort to 'get their own back' members of a Danish resistance group opened up an Arts and Craft shop specializing in scroll work. They offered to personalize the officers side weapons by fitting ivory handles to their Lugers and cover the gun with artful designs and scroll work. Some were customized as gifts for fellow officers serving on other fronts. Trade was brisk, but what was not explained was that the barrels were being modified by reducing the diameter inside and weakening the breach of the gun, which, when fired for the first time would blow up in the officers face. Of course these guns were never fired while the officer was on leave and any 'accidents' at the front were put down to 'casualties of war'. According to Harry Jensen, the only survivor of the resistance group, hundreds of these Lugers were modified this way before they closed shop.
On his 78th birthday, The German 'Grand Service Cross of the Golden Eagle' was presented to Henry Ford, the American car manufacturer, by a German diplomat in the USA on July 30, 1938, on behalf of Adolf Hitler. Ford is the only American that Hitler mentions in his book Mein Kampf. In his book, 'Entnazifizierung in Bayern' the German author, Niethammer, suggests that the failure of the Americans to bomb the Ford car plant outside Cologne, was all a part of a capitalist plot. In that same year, the senior executive of the General Motors German branch also received the award. Both firms had invested heavily in Germany. In 1929, General Motors had bought up 80% of the German automobile firm of Opel. The same award was presented by Herman Göring to American aviation hero Charles Lingbergh in October, 1938, during his third visit to Germany.
The first bombing raid on Berlin was on August 25/26, 1940, just two days after the German Luftwaffe had mistakenly bombed London. Of the 81 RAF bombers taking part, 27 failed to locate the target and five were shot down. A year later, on August 8, 1941, the Russians bombed the city for the first time. In all, Berlin suffered 363 air raids during the war.
At the time of the Munich crises, Czechoslovakia was paying senior British politicians and journalists, the sum of 2,000 Pounds Sterling per year in return for a promise to topple Neville Chamberlain and his Government.
On July 30, 1943, a Sunderland flying boat, U for Uncle, from the Australian 461 Squadron, spotted and attacked a German U-boat in the Bay of Biscay. The U-boat, commanded by Korvkpt. Wolf-Harro Stiebler, sank taking the lives of 53 of her crew. There were fifteen survivors. By a strange coincidence, the submarine was the U-461.
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. Just before the jump, Pte. 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!
On July 11, 1943, on the American held airfield at Farello, three miles east of Gela in Sicily, preparations were under way for the reception of reinforcements from Colonel Reuben H. Tucker's 504th Parachute Regiment. As the C-47 transports approached the bridgehead and headed for the drop zone, an American machine-gun down below fired a stream of tracers upward at the C-47s. A second machine-gun opened up followed by another and still another. Directly into this storm of 'friendly fire' flew the C-47s. As plane after plane was hit, the paratroopers jumped only to be shot in mid-air or just before they landed. The trigger happy machine-gunners, thinking they were German paratroops, kept up their deadly fire while General George Patton and General Matthew Ridgeway, the 82nd Airborne commander, awaiting to greet the paratroopers, could only look on with shocked disbelief as the tragedy unfolded before their eyes. Altogether, twenty three of the original 144 troop carrying planes were shot down and thirty-seven others badly damaged. Ninety-seven men were killed and around 400 were wounded in this, the greatest tragedy to befall the US invasion forces.
German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.
The B 17 was designed to carry more than bombs. In addition to its 4-ton bombload, the "Fort" had to carry 11 tons of fuel, 1.3 tons of .50-caliber machine gun rounds, and about a ton of crewmen and personal equipment.
A very strange bit of information is that the vast majority of fighter aces in WW2 had blue or light coloured eyes, were shorter than average, and, in family life, had more daughters than sons. What all this means is anyone's guess.
The very first German bomb to fall on Leningrad during World War 2 killed the only elephant in the city's zoo.
Tanks arriving in the USSR from the West spent little time in port before being sent to the front. Thus, serial numbers, inspection notes and other assorted stenciled lettering applied in American and British factories remained on the Russian-operated vehicles during their drive westwards against Germany. These letters meant nothing to Soviet soldiers, as the Roman and Cyrillic alphabets differ widely. But as the Red Army moved west, they encountered people who used the Roman alphabet, although they didn't speak English. One popular Slovakian translation of the large "USA" found painted on most American-made vehicles was Ubiyat Sukensyna Adolfa, which means Kill that Son of a ***** Adolf. A very strange coincidence, I think.
While guerrilla warfare usually centres around light, mobile forces, at least one guerrilla force has used tanks. These were Yugoslav partisans, who at first used captured Italian tanks against Italians and Germans using captured French tanks. By 1944, the partisans had 50 captured tanks in running condition. Later that year, the British supplied 56 light tanks and 24 armoured cars, which reached Yugoslavia in November of 1944. The Russians equipped a partisan unit with 65 T.34's, heavy tanks which caused the Germans much grief. When the Wehrmacht finally evacuated the Balkans, they had to do so in great haste, lest they be trapped by guerrilla armoured units--an unheard of situation.
Poison gas was not used on a wide scale during the Second World War. The Germans experimented with it but, the Americans were involved in a near-disaster involving their own mustard gas:
In 1943, after the invasion of Salerno, a Luftwaffe attack on the Italian port of Bari managed to hit an American cargo vessel carrying tonnes of mustard gas. Nobody ashore knew what the ship was carrying, and were oblivious to the wandering fumes. As for the survivors of the sinking, many were found alive in the water, but covered in oil from the ship and mustard gas particles floating on the surface. Hours after being rescued, these sailors began a tormented and very painful death. The US security service made sure all witnesses were sworn to secrecy, and the incident was covered up until long after the end of hostilities.
When Adolf Hitler was warned that Brazil had joined the Allied cause and declared war on Germany, the Fuhrer laughed, and sneered, "Never! The Brazillians will fight Germany when cobras smoke pipes!". The Brazillians liked the sound of that, and promptly designed a divisional shoulder patch showing a cobra smoking a pipe. They named their infantry unit, "Cobras Fumenses", and sent them off to fight the Nazis in Italy.
When Sweden mobilised in 1940 after the German invasion of Norway, it realised that it had enough AA ammunition for 1 minutes worth simultaneous firing for all it's AA guns
In 1939, Coca Cola only had 5 overseas bottling plants. By 1945, they had 64.
During World War II the military production of the Ford Motor Company exceeded that of the whole of Italy. During 1942, Ford Motor Company halted its civilian car output and shifted to total military production.
All car makers were ordered to stop civilian car production not long after Pearl Harbor. The initial order wasn't so much to cause the conversion to war production, but because the access to rubber from S.E. Asia was cut off by the Japanese advance. No rubber, no tire production, and the military knew it was going to need all the rubber it could lay its hands on for tires to support the military vehicles. The automakers appealed to Roosevelt not to close down their industry, offering to make new cars without tires, arguing that the buyers could then take the tires off their old vehicles and transfer them to the new cars. Roosevelt knew, however, that once new cars started coming off the assembly line without tires, there would be tremendous political pressure to lift the ban on civilian tire production. So he didn't relent.
To conserve metal during World War II the Academy Awards of Merit - also known as the Oscars - were made out of wood.
In the US in 1943, to conserve metal, the production of blades to make sliced bread was ended.
The Italian battleship the Cavour was sunk twice during the war. It was sunk first in the Taranto raid and then secondly out on patrol, both times by British Swordfish torpedo planes.
The Germans only suffered 21 casaulties at the Dieppe raid of 1942
The Dieppe raid was the first time since 1918 that Germans, British, Canadian and American soldiers all fought in Europe.
America sent 50 rangers to Dieppe.
From December 15 - 25 1944 the 101st airborne was reportedly fighting with 1 round per man.
The v2 Rocket was the first object to exit the atmoshpere.
The ME153 Komet was the first and last operational rocket fighter.
The term "Kraut" comes from ww1 where the Germans were nicknamed after there countries favourite food, sourkraut - salted cabbage. On average each German back then ate 100kg of sourKraut throught the war.
Three weeks before the planned invasion of Britian 10 German Fallschirmjagers landed near Kent to evaluate the proposed landing areas, once the invasion was postponed the went into a bar at 3am in the morning and in their best british voices asked for a pint each. They were shot some time later for spying.
During the recapture of Paris french communists fought not only the Germans but also Degaulles Free French.
A spitfire MK XIV-F24 was the first plane to shoot down an ME 262.
During the battle of Tarawa only 17 japanese defenders were taken prisoner, the other 3500 either died in battle or commited suicide.
The biggest loss to the US 8th Air Force was when 229 B17s and B24s raided the German ball-bearing factory at Schweinfurt for the second time on October 14, 1943. 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 battle 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.
There were many "retreads" in the US army at the time of their advance across France in 1944-45. These were First World War veterans who had returned to the armed forces and were traversing the French countryside for a second time. There were a number of strange instances surrounding these troops:
The CO of an infantry regiment was examining a map of his area when he noticed some familiar names. He asked his aide "Major, any chance we can go around that town? Back in '18 I made some pretty tall promises to a young lady there, and I'd rather not run into her just now!"
A bunker in Lorraine was taken by American troops twice, once in each war. On one wall is scrawled a doughboy's name and a date in late 1918. Just below it appears the same name, this time dated 1944, and the inscription "This is the last time I want to be in this damned bunker!"
On October 25, 1944, the American submarine Tang, commanded by Commander Richard O'Kane , was chasing a damaged Japanese warship that had fallen behind the convoy it had been escorting. During an engagement the day before, the Tang had fired all her torpedoes except one, at the convoy. Now its commander was determined to finish off the damaged warship using the last torpedo. Catching up with the limping ship, the Tang surfaced and fired its torpedo. From the bridge, Commander O'Kane and eight of his officers, looked on in amazement as the wake of the torpedo made a complete circle around their ship. The circle got smaller and smaller until a terrific explosion blew them all from the bridge and into the water. The Tang sank fast as tons of water poured into her hull. Seventy-eight officers and men of the Tang lost their lives. When Japanese destroyers arrived on the scene only nine men had survived to be picked up and taken prisoner. They all survived the war.
An American Bombing squadron, consisting of B17 bombers set out to attack German factories in the Ruhr area, but that mission was cancelled due to the area being covered with clouds. It then recieved a new order to attack a German town further North. On their way there however, they recieved a message that again their target was covered by clouds. Not to waist their time and effort, they were sent to bomb targets of choise. They planned to attack two small German towns but, instead hit the Big Dutch cities of Nijmegen, Arnhem and Enschede. The damadge in Arnhem and Enschede wasn't that big, but Nijmegen was hit hard. 880 people died that day, of which 120 children under 10 years of age. More people than had died when the Germans bombed Rotterdam, which caused the surrender in May 1940.
The Germans immediately used it to their advantage, calling it a horrendous attack by the Anglo-American forces on defenceless civilians, but I don't think anyone really thought like that. It was just an accident, with big concequences.
You can find at least one interesting fact in any book you read about the Second World War. Just the other day I was reading The Boys' Crusade : The American Infantry in Northwestern Europe. The author, Paul Fussell, states that the American Army allocated 22.5 sheets of toilet paper per day for its soldiers, and the British allocated three.