10 Of The Most Fascinating, The Least Known World War 2 Facts

10 Of The Most Fascinating, The Least Known World War 2 Facts

Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, all independent at the time, threw their armies into the hands of Hitler. Romania concluded an agreement with Germany in 1940 to supply raw materials and troops to the Nazi war effort, and Hungary sent over 200,000 troops to fight the Soviet Union. These soldiers were then ungratefully sacrificed by the Nazi High Command to cover the German retreat in 1943. Bulgaria joined the Axis in 1941 and was used to attack Yugoslavia by the Germans in exchange for a part of the territory of Yugoslavia.

The British Attacked The French Fleet

After France fell, British worried that the French Navy would fall under German hands and be used against them. After trying and failing to convince the French Navy to hitch British cause, British government grew impatient. Many within the Royal Navy believed (correctly within the case of the fleet stationed at Alexandria) that French fleets within the colonies would join British once they ran out of supplies. They also hoped that French colonies would pledge allegiance to the Free French forces under Charles de Gaulle . Churchill and his War Cabinet however, insisted on a fast display of force, and so, in July 1940, Operation Catapult was launched.

The British seized French ships in British ports and sent ships to demand the French surrender. When the French refused, they opened fire, killing nearly 1,300 French sailors but failing to sink the fleet. Worse, many ships escaped to France. The Vichy government came into power a week later and have become hostile to Britain, and therefore the outraged colonies quickly sided with Vichy. Despite weakening British position considerably, Churchill still claimed a victory.

The Allies Fought The French In Madagascar

After Madagascar joined the Vichy government in 1940, the Allies were afraid that it would become a base for the Japanese in the Indian Ocean. This led to a British blockade followed by an invasion in May 1942. The Vichy Defenders fought hard for six months until they finally surrendered.

When the US joined British forces in French North Africa at the end of 1942, the Allies faced a much greater challenge than they had encountered in Madagascar. 100,000 French Vichy soldiers were posted there. Motivated by the profound sense of their previous loss and the difficulty of proving their worth as soldiers, they gave remarkably stiff resistance before they were finally bested.

Iraqi Rebels Fought For The Axis

Prior to the combat in Madagascar and French North Africa, anti-British sentiment in Iraq was high. This led to a coup d’etat in 1941 against the pro-British government and a British military intervention in response.

The rebels asked the Axis for assistance, but the Germans, now preoccupied in Greece and preparing to invade Russia, could only send military equipment. This had to be delivered via airfields and railways in Vichy Syria, and since the Vichy government was now firmly anti-British, they agreed to help. Although the coup was defeated, it was the first time that the Vichy regime had directly contributed to the war, resulting in a complete British invasion of Syria.

The British Invaded Iceland

Iceland has been a Danish state since 1918, but after Denmark fell to the Germans in 1940, it declared independence and neutrality in the war. But Iceland held considerable strategic significance to the ongoing battle of the Atlantic, so the British offered "security." When Iceland politely declined, the British invaded, capturing important positions, and taking local Germans into custody. Iceland issued a formal protest, but did not resist, and remained in Allied hands for the remainder of the war.

Several Thousands Indians Fought For Hitler

In the spring of 1941, Subhas Chandra Bose, leader of the militant anti-British Indian liberation movement, went to Germany to gain support for his cause. This led to the formation of the German Army's Indian Legion. Made up of some 2,000 captured Indian soldiers who fought for the British in North Africa, they hoped to be sent to liberate India. At the biggest, the Legion numbered around 4,500.

For much of the war, they didn't see action and were kept for purely propaganda value. But in 1944, they were handed to the Waffen-SS, the military wing of the National Socialist German Workers' Party , with whom they eventually saw limited combat. While Indian nationalists sought Nazi help, they didn't align with fascism. Hitler believed that British rule out India was justified on racial grounds, so unlike other “foreign legions” of the SS, it had been an alliance of convenience instead of of shared values.

Aleutian Islands Campaign

On June 3rd, 1942, Japanese forces invaded and occupied Attu and Kiska, two islands which were part of the state of Alaska. However, these islands had little value, very bad conditions and proved little of a threat to the United States. Many resulting casualties were not caused by gunfire, but booby traps, the weather and friendly fire.

Japanese Holdouts

Japanese holdouts were Japanese soldiers posted on islands all over the Pacific who declined to surrender, or did not know that Japan had surrendered. These soldiers stayed stranded on these islands, mostly on their own, for many years or decades. One famous case is Hiroo Onada, who eventually surrendered in 1974, 29 years after Japan had surrendered.

South American Involvement

Although it's called “World War II”, many of us don't include any South American countries on the list of combatants. The country of Brazil, “During the eight months of the Italian campaign, the Brazilian Expeditionary Force managed to require 20,573 Axis prisoners, including two generals, 892 officers and 19,679 other ranks. During the War, Brazil lost 948 of its own men killed in action across all three services. Many other South American countries contributed in raw supplies and, in some cases, soldiers joined the Free French Forces.

The Death Match

The Death Match was a football match between a POW Soviet team, “FC Start”, and a team comprised of Luftwaffe members, “Flakelf”. The match was played on August 9th, 1942, and was refereed by a Waffen SS soldier. The ref was very biased, and allowed fouls against the Soviet side, and even allowed a German to kick the Soviet goalkeeper within the head. Eventually, the Soviet team achieved a 5-3 win. This win had huge consequences for the winners. variety of the FC Start players were arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, allegedly for being NKVD members (as Dynamo was a police-funded club). one among the arrested players, Mykola Korotkykh, died under torture. the remainder were sent to the Syrets labour camp, where Ivan Kuzmenko, Oleksey Klimenko, and therefore the goalkeeper Mykola Trusevich were later killed, in February 1943.