Since Saving Private Ryan hit the silver screen, back in 1998, I have become something of a WWII buff. I had not really delved into all that transpired prior to, during and after WWII. What some people don't realize is what a miracle it was that the Allies were able to eventually destroy the war machines of German, Italy and Japan. In fact, things could have changed for the worse if not for some events that changed history. That is something I will dig into deeper in another blog post.
For now, I'm just going to relate some facts about WWII. Some are stated matter of factually. Some are downright bizarre. For example, are you aware that Japan and Russia still have not signed a peace treaty to end WWII? They are still at a state of war with one another. The reason for not signing the peace treaty? It seems there is still disputes over four islands. The four Southern Kurile islands remain an issue of conflict between Japan and Russia. Until that is resolved satisfactorily, there will be no official peace treaty between these two countries to end hostilities of nearly 70 years ago. Let's look at a few more facts surrounding WWII.
The Eastern Front was a disaster for Germany. Hitler's decision to open another front of the war was ridiculous from a military standpoint. In fact, for every five German soldiers who died in WWII, four died on the Eastern Front
Eighty percent of Soviet males, born in 1923, did not survive WWII. And you wonder why there is a shortage of males in Russia even today? In fact, more Russians (military and civilians) lost their lives during the Siege of Leningrad than did American and British soldiers combined in all of WWII
Out of the 40,000 German men who served on U-Boats in WWII, only about 10,000 survived. That is about a 75% fatality rate. I'm not sure why they volunteered. Well, maybe they were forced to "volunteer."
A cat named Sam survived three ships sinking during WWII. Sam first served on the mighty German warship "Bismark." Only 115 men survived the sinking, including one cat named Sam. He was then put aboard the HMS Cossack. This ship sank less than five months later. Sam was then transferred to the HMS Ark Royal, a British aircraft carrier. Unfortunately, for Sam, it too was sunk less than a month later. The decision was then made to "retire" Sam since the "Unsinkable Sam" had only six more lives left in him.
Germans developed, late in the war, the first jet fighters of the 20th Century. The Messerschmitt ME-262 was a devastating weapon that was deployed far too late to counter the course of the war. There was no time for testing of the jet fighter. Thusly, it was not nearly as formidable as it could have been.
This reminds me of the "Liberty Fries" episode years back when France refused to let the USA use French airspace to strike Libya. During WWII, the American hamburger was given the name Liberty Burger because of the German sounding name of "hamburger."
Over 1,500,000 Purple Heart medals were made because it was expected that the invasion of Japan would cause, at minimum, over a million U.S. casualties. Called "Operation Downfall," this medal program was discontinued after the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It took until the beginning of this decade to finally finish off that supply made in WWII.
William Hitler, a nephew of Adolf Hitler, was in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He changed his name after the war. Who can blame him?
Calvin Graham probably doesn't ring a bell for some WWII buffs. But, he was the youngest known enlistee in the U.S. military during WWII. He enlisted right after the Pearl Harbor bombing at the tender age of just 12 years old. Graham served honorably in WWII, fighting gallantly at the Battle of Guadalcanal. His fire control efforts, aboard the USS South Dakota, earned him the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Calvin Graham was thrown in the brig for three months after it was discovered he lied about his age. He was soon released and dishonorably discharged from the Navy. He was also stripped of all his medals. It was not until 1978 that Calvin Graham was given an honorable discharge. In 1988, he had all his medals restored except the Purple Heart. Calvin Graham finally got his Purple Heart reinstated, but two years after his death in 1992.
Just a few facts about an amazing and tragic time in world history.