-WORLD WAR II-
STRANGER THAN FICTION
* 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
Lt. Gen. Lesley McNair, killed by the US Army Air Corps. So much for
* 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.
* More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps.
While completing the required 30 missions your chance of being killed
* 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.
* Germany's 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
* 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.
* 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
wasn't worth the effort.
* A number of air crewmen died of farts. (ascending to 20,000 ft. in
an unpressurized aircraft causes intestinal gas to expand 300%).
* 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
* 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.
* 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 captured by the US Army.
* German submarine U-120 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet.
* The Graf Spee never sank. The scuttling attempt failed and the
ship was bought as scrap by the British. On board was Germany's newest
* One of Japan's methods of destroying tanks was to bury a very
large artillery shell with only the nose exposed. When a tank came near
enough a soldier would whack the shell with a hammer. "Lack of weapons
is no excuse for defeat." - Lt Gen. Mutaguchi
* Following a massive naval bombardment 35,000 US and Canadian troops
stormed ashore at Kiska. 21 troops were killed in the firefight. 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. I don't know where
they put them since the MISS ME only had 2 seats.
* Most members of the Waffen SS were not German.
* 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 officer's 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. Which contained beer.
I suppose some German drank the Heavy Water