Facts About World War II We Just Learned Today That Made Us Say 'Whoa'

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Vote up the most incredible facts from WWII you just learned here and now.

World War II spanned multiple continents and altered the course of global events for generations. It remains fertile ground for cinematic adaptations, and an ever-popular subject for history students. You'd think, with all that exposure, there would be no more surprising facts about WW2 - yet history buffs are always keen to share forgotten and little known stories about the conflict.

Here are some of the most interesting facts about World War II, as shared by Reddit's community of amateur historians. 


  • 1
    1,810 VOTES

    In 1944, An Australian Soldier Removed His Own Appendix In The Middle Of A Philippine Jungle

    From Redditor u/Tokyono:

    TIL that in WWII, an Australian soldier removed his own appendix in the middle of a Philippine jungle in 1944, without any anaesthetic and with only the use of a mirror and an ordinary knife. The operation took 4 and a half hours and he stitched himself up with jungle fibre.

    Source

  • 2
    1,236 VOTES

    The Leaning Tower Of Pisa Was Spared An Artillery Strike Because Of Its Beauty

    From Redditor u/Lpjay:

    TIL that during WW2 the Allies discovered that the Germans were using the Leaning Tower of Pisa as an observation post. A U.S Army Sergeant that was sent to the tower to confirm the presence of German troops was impressed by its beauty and decided to not order an artillery strike on it.

    Source

  • 3
    1,357 VOTES

    To Prepare For An Axis Takeover Of Gibraltar, The British Created A Secret Observation Chamber Overlooking The Harbor

    From Redditor u/sober_disposition:

    TIL that if the Axis ever captured Gibraltar during WWII, the British planned to seal 6 men in a secret cave overlooking the harbour to secretly monitor and radio back enemy movements. The cave had enough provisions for the men to stay for up to 7 years.

    Source

  • 4
    1,844 VOTES

    British Citizens Defended Black US Soldiers From Their Racist Comrades

    From Redditor u/PurestVideos:

    TIL: During WW2 Black U.S soldiers stationed in England were drinking in a pub with local people when U.S Military police arrived to stop them getting served and arrest them for not segregating. The white local people in the pub defended the Black men, which eventually led to a riot and gunshots.

  • 5
    1,288 VOTES

    The Stock Of Purple Hearts Created For 'Operation Downfall' Are Still Being Used Today

    From Redditor u/02K30C1:

    TIL before Japan surrendered to end WW2, the US armed forces ordered over 1 million Purple Heart medals in anticipation of a difficult land invasion. That stock is still being used today.

    Source

  • From Redditor u/Cinema7D:

    TIL in World War II, a few engineers wanted to reinforce the (returned) fighter planes where most of the bullet holes were. Mr. Abraham Wald then said: Let's reinforce them where no bullet holes are instead - because apparently, airplanes hit in these spots did NOT return.

    Source