8 Bizarre Facts About World War II

Posted Mar 10, by Alison Stanton

Russia and Japan have still not signed a peace treaty to end World War II.

Nearly 70 years on, two countries that never fought each other on the level that the Soviet Union did with Germany, or the level that Japan did with the United States continue to have a dispute over four islands. Though today, Germany and Russia as well as Japan and the US have fairly good relationships, the four Southern Kurile islands remain an issue of conflict between Japan and Russia. 

As World War II drew to a close, Soviet forces had occupied these islands, but today both countries consider these islands to be theirs. In September 1951, the Soviet Union declined to sign the San Francisco Peace Treaty because Japan believed the four islands were theirs. It has been a source of conflict ever since. Japan still considers the islands theirs, and Russia still considers them theirs. 

There have been countless attempts to remedy the problem over the years, but none have proved successful. Perhaps, like the German Chancellor, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda also has a fear of dogs that Vladimir Putin can use to put an end to the issue. 

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During World War II, airplane factories in the US were made to look like small towns so they wouldn't be bombing targets!

We've mentioned the fake Paris before, but did you know that this sort of trickery went on in the United States as well? The Lockheed Burbank Aircraft Plant was made to look like a small town from the air using camouflage netting and using props to hide it from Japanese attacks. Check out a couple of pictures here and the rest at the source.

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There was a group available to join during World War II if your beliefs restricted you from combat.

 

It was called the Civilian Public Service, or CPS, and its concept is very simple. The CPS were “conscientious objectors” in the US during World War II who decided that although they couldn’t participate in combat because of religious beliefs, they still wished to help their country.

They served without wages and received hardly any federal support, yet they were able to achieve much more than the government ever expected. There were a total of around twelve thousand members in the CPS, and they were housed in camps just like draftees, although their responsibilities were significantly different.

Their projects were primarily in rural areas and participants performed tasks ranging from forest conservation to medical experiments. While armed soldiers get a warranted amount of attention, the acts of these men should not go unnoticed. They allowed themselves to be human test subjects in many situations and were even forced to jump into blazing forest fires to attempt to fight the flames.

They built forest trails, cared for nursery stock, and planted thousands of seedlings of new trees. Besides natural pursuits, their most significant contribution to America’s history was in the mental health sector. They were forced to volunteer in psychiatric hospitals because there were few other people available for the jobs, and were so disgusted by the treatment of the handicapped that they revolutionized the way patients are dealt with.

Instead of constantly responding with violence and abuse, they instead implemented a more pacifist mentality that is still used today. If you want to learn more about the obscure CPS, click on the link below!

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A cat survived the sinking of three separate ships in World War Two, earning the moniker "Unsinkable Sam."

If you’ve ever watched a war movie and felt unfazed by the countless dead bodies due to the survival of one precious animal, this article is for you. In the 2001 movie Pearl Harbor, after the chaos from the Japanese attack, one dog is seen amongst the wreckage, having survived unharmed. While in film this is used as a gimmick to distract audiences, it turns out it’s based in reality. 

Unsinkable Sam was a cat aboard a German ship in World War II. Having cats aboard ships is something that’s been common for hundreds of years mainly due to their ability to catch rodents. He first served on the Bismarck during its first and only mission on 18 May 1941. After a sea battle on 27 May, the Bismarck was sunk and only 115 of the 2,200 crew members survived. 

Sam was found floating on a board later- by the British. The British then employed him (and named him Oscar) on the HMS Cossack, until it was hit by a torpedo on 24 October and sank three days later. Though 159 people died from the torpedo, “Oscar” survived. He was officially named “Unsinkable Sam” and was transferred to the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, which had played a role in the destruction of Bismarck. 

Unfortunately, this ship also sank just days later on 14 November, once again due to torpedo. Sam survived again, and was described as “angry but quite unharmed.” The British decided to retire Sam to a seaman’s home in Belfast. There he lived for 14 more years. Who knows why… Sam still had at least 5 more ships before he was in real trouble no? 

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A group of British celebrities, such as Roald Dahl and Ian Flemings, were ordered to spy on the US during World War II in very unusual ways.

 

Usual reconnaissance is strictly monitored and almost always undercover, making the acts of these celebrities even more legendary for the fact that not only were they all some of the most famous people in the world, but also they performed in broad daylight as themselves. The story begins with Britain unable to effectively combat the Germans. While they sweated out what most of them assumed could be their last days before they begin speaking German, an elite group of celebrities was assembled with one objective: to spy on the United States and convince them to join the war. 

The group was named the “Baker Street Irregulars” and consisted of such famous names as Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, children’s author Roald Dahl, Noel Coward, and Leslie Howard. If this group wasn’t badass enough, their boss was Canadian soldier and inventor Sir William Stephenson who was the inspiration for James Bond! These people were primarily picked for their uncanny abilities to seduce, charm, and win over the hearts of foreigners. One interesting mission was when Dahl was ordered to seduce the wife of Henry Luce, the owner of Time, Life and Fortune magazines, because he was considered to be an anti-British isolationist.

Dahl did the job successfully. So successfully in fact that he begged his superiors to let him stop saying, “I am all fucked out! That goddamn woman has absolutely screwed me from one end of the room to the other.” The Irregulars were stunningly successful. They even managed to slip a false map of South America to President Roosevelt that convinced him that the Germans planned on conquering the rest of the world! Even after the US had joined the war effort the Irregulars continued to stay in North America among the many celebrities of the day. 

In fact, Dahl was invited to the White House because Eleanor Roosevelt said her grandchildren enjoyed his books. However, things got a little awkward when FDR casually let Dahl know that he was aware of his mission and his particular…methods. 

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Scientists considered bombing Japanese volcanoes in World War II to trigger eruptions.

In the January 1944 issue of Popular Science, the piece titled “Can We Blast Japan From Below?” presents the argument. The author, Professor Harold O. Whitnall of Colgate University, said that “[the Japanese] have made gods of [volcanoes],” and “fear of volcanoes is thoroughly ingrained in the minds of the Japanese.” 

He went on to say that fear of volcanoes is so great that the act of bombing them would cause “cataclysmic terror.” The point was to not only use psychological warfare, but to turn the volcanoes into weapons of war by inducing eruptions. 

Whitnall said that after Pearl Harbor, an all out attack on the Japanese homeland should have been accompanied by bombing raids on Japan’s volcanoes to hasten surrender. Obviously, it never materialized. But was it possible? Theoretically, yes. 

In short, if a volcano is near its time to erupt, a bomb can be enough force to set it off. The proposal reached President Roosevelt, but was never seriously considered. Perhaps it was a good thing, because had such measures been taken, the tragic events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki might not have been the only ones. 

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The US made enough Purple Hearts in WWII to supply us with them to this day.

The US had expected the American casualties in World War II to be much greater than they ultimately were. In preparation for the invasion of Japan, Operation Downfall, some 1,506,000 Purple Hearts were made. Though Operation Downfall was abandoned when Japan surrendered after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Purple Hearts made for it are still being used today. Most of these Purple Hearts have been issued.

As of June 5 2010, a staggering 1,910,162 have been issued. Interestingly, around 120,000 more are circulated through the present armed forces, so that they can be awarded without delay. Everything else from World War II (tanks, bullets, k rations), has since been used, sold, or scrapped, but the Purple Hearts made for our Great Grandfathers are still being pinned on our soldiers today. You can read more at the source

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The youngest serving soldier during World War 2 was 12!

His name was Calvin Graham, and he enlisted in the Navy on May 1942, shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor. The kid had an active role in the battle of Guadalcanal, serving aboard the USS South Dakota. He helped in the fire control efforts aboard the ship, something that earned him the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

His mom revealed his age, and was put in a brig for three months. He was released when his sister threatened to tell the newspapers. He was released and dishonorably discharged for lying about his age. His medals were taken from him.

He joined the marines when he was 17 but broke his back 3 years later. He spent the rest of his life fighting for medical benefits and a clean record.  Finally, in 1988, after years of trying, he wrote to Congress telling them his story, and he was reinstated of all his medals, except for the Purple Heart.

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