Strange World War II Facts … Factoids … Strange things you never learned in school

You might enjoy this from Col D. G. Swinford, USMC, Ret., and history buff. You would really have to dig deep to get this kind of ringside seat to history:

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

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

3. 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.

4. More US servicemen died in the Air Corps than the Marine Corps. [Actually the 8th Air Force alone suffered about 5,000 more KIA than the entire Marine Corps in WW2.] While completing the required 30 missions, an airman’s chance of being killed was 71%.

5. 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.

6. It was a common practice for fighter planes to load every 5th round with a tracer round to aid in aiming. This was a big mistake. Tracers had different ballistics, at long range… if your tracers were hitting the target, 80% of your rounds were missing. Worse yet 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 cool and something you wanted to tell the enemy. Units that stopped using tracers saw their success rate nearly double and their loss rates go down.

Here’s something related from 5th SF, Detachment B-52’s Tips of the Trade item #32; “Tracers work both ways”.

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

8. German Me-264 bombers were capable of bombing New York City, but Hitler decided it wasn’t worth the effort.

9. German submarine U-1206 was sunk by a malfunctioning toilet…..OMG !!!

10. 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.

11. Following a incredible massive naval bombardment, 35,000 United States and Canadian troops stormed ashore at Kiska, in the Aleutian Islands. 21 troops were killed in the assault on the island. It could have been worse if there had been actual Japanese troops on the island.

12. The last marine killed in WW2 was killed by a can of SPAM. He was on the ground as a POW in Japan when rescue flights dropping food and supplies came over, one package came apart in the air and a stray can of SPAM hit him in the head and he was killed.


Thanks to Rob Roth of the Army Security Agency FB forum for sharing this with me.

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