18 Fascinating Facts About World War II You May Not Know

World War II is a topic that continues to fascinate and intrigue people to this day. It was a global conflict that affected the entire world, and its impact is still felt today. From the causes of the war to the major battles and the eventual outcome, there is a wealth of information to learn about this historical event. In this article, we will dive into 18 lesser-known facts about World War II that will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation of the war and the events that shaped it.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply looking to learn more about this pivotal moment in history, you’ll find something interesting and intriguing in this article. So, sit back and get ready to discover some truly fascinating facts about World War II that you may not have known before.

#1 No Time to Paddle

(Photo by Keystone/Getty Images)

The 6th of June 1944, commonly known as D-Day, was a significant moment in World War II. On this day, the United States and its allies launched a massive invasion of Normandy, France, in an effort to liberate Western Europe from Nazi control. The operation, known as Operation Overlord, was one of the largest amphibious invasions in history and involved over 156,000 American, British, and Canadian troops.

The landing took place on five beaches: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. The landing on Omaha beach was particularly difficult, as the German defenses were particularly strong and the beach was heavily mined. Despite the challenges, the American troops were able to establish a foothold and push inland, paving the way for the eventual liberation of France and the defeat of Nazi Germany.


The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise move that was launched on a Sunday, with the intention of catching the Americans off guard. The Japanese believed that Americans would be less alert on a Sunday, which is typically a day of rest in the West. When the Japanese commander Mitsuo Fuchida flew over the U.S. naval base, he shouted the famous words “Tora! Tora! Tora!” which translates to “Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!” This was his way of informing his fellow Japanese that the attack had been executed successfully, according to plan.

#3 Princess Elizabeth learning basic car maintenance as a Second Subaltern in the A.T.S 12th April 1945.

(Photo by Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images)

Princess Elizabeth, who would later become Queen Elizabeth II, served as a Second Subaltern in the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) during World War II. On April 12, 1945, she participated in a training program to learn basic car maintenance. This was a significant moment for Princess Elizabeth, as it was the first time that a member of the Royal Family had actively served in the armed forces during wartime.

The ATS was a branch of the British Army that was primarily made up of women, and Princess Elizabeth’s decision to join was seen as a way for her to actively contribute to the war effort. She trained as a driver and mechanic and worked on vehicles such as trucks and ambulances.

#4 HMS Centurion in Malta harbor in 1923.

(HMS Centurion – stock photo/gettyimages)

A vintage photograph captures the powerful presence of HMS Centurion in Malta harbor in 1923. This storied warship played a significant role in both World War I and World War II, with her first major engagement being the Battle of Jutland in 1916. Despite the photograph’s age and the fact that the quality may not be as great as more modern images, it serves as an important historical document, providing a glimpse into the past and the proud legacy of the HMS Centurion.

The photograph not only serves as a reminder of the ship’s service during two World Wars but also, it gives us a sense of the technological advancement of the time and the skill of the crew who operated the ship. The photograph is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices and contributions made by the men and women who served aboard HMS Centurion and the critical role played by naval power in shaping the course of history.

#5 Marine Charging During Battle of Okinawa.

(Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The image of a U.S. Marine charging forward through a hail of Japanese machine gun fire on the island of Okinawa during World War II is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the men and women who fought in the conflict. The Marines and infantry of the U.S. 10th Army made a successful landing on Okinawa on March 31, 1945, and within three weeks, they had secured control of three-quarters of the island.

The battle for Okinawa was one of the bloodiest of the war in the Pacific, and this photograph captures the intense fighting and determination of the Marines as they pushed forward to secure the island. It is a testament to the bravery and resilience of the U.S. military during World War II and serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by so many in the pursuit of victory.

#6 World War Two: Eastern Front 1941.

(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The photograph captures a heart-wrenching scene of Soviet Red Army prisoners of war captured during the Nazi German invasion of Russia, known as Operation Barbarossa. The prisoners are forced to cross a railway bridge with no footwear, their arms raised in surrender, on the Romanian front in Ukraine in 1941. The photograph is a sobering reminder of the horrors of war and the suffering endured by Soviet soldiers during World War II. It is estimated that over 3 million Soviet prisoners of war died in Nazi captivity, due to starvation, execution, malnutrition, and disease.

#7 Luftwaffe Over London.

(Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The photograph captures a dramatic moment in history, as two Luftwaffe Dornier 217 bombers fly over the Silvertown area of London’s Docklands on September 7, 1940, at the beginning of the Blitz on London. The image, taken from a German bomber, shows the devastation wrought by the bombing, with fires having already started near the Beckton Gasworks.

The photograph is a chilling reminder of the destructive power of war and the terror experienced by civilians during the Blitz. The West Ham greyhound track, visible near the center of the photograph, serves as a poignant symbol of the indiscriminate nature of the bombing, as the seemingly peaceful and normal activities of everyday life were disrupted by the violence of war.

#8 D-Day Invasion.

 (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The photograph captures a moment of history in the making, as reinforcements disembark from a landing barge during the Allied invasion of Normandy, France on June 6, 1944, famously known as D-Day. The image showcases the chaos, confusion and bravery of the soldiers as they land on the beach with the landing craft, ready to fight in one of the most significant and decisive battles of the Second World War. The photograph is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices and bravery of the soldiers who fought in the invasion, as well as the enormous logistical effort required to launch such a massive operation.

#9 World War Two: Eastern Front 1941.

 (Photo by Maltry/ Heinrich Hoffmann/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images).

The photograph captures a somber moment in history as a German military police soldier guards a column of Soviet Red Army prisoners of war, captured during the Nazi German invasion of Russia known as Operation Barbarossa. The image was taken on July 12th, 1941, somewhere in Western Russia as the prisoners are being marched towards internment camps.

It serves as a reminder of the brutalities of war and the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war by the Nazi regime. The photograph is a poignant reminder of the suffering and sacrifices of the Soviet soldiers during World War II. It is estimated that over 3 million Soviet prisoners of war died in Nazi captivity due to starvation, execution, malnutrition and disease. The photograph is a powerful reminder of the human cost of war and the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime during the Second World War.

#10 Consolidated B-24 Liberator four-engine heavy bomber.

(Photo by Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

The photograph captures the bustling activity at the Ford Motor Company’s Willow Run assembly plant in Detroit, Michigan, where the fuselage and wing components for the Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber were being assembled for service with the United States Army Air Force (USAAF) in December 1942. The image showcases the industrial might of the United States during World War II, as well as the ingenuity and efficiency of the American manufacturing industry.

The B-24 Liberator played a crucial role in the war effort, and the photograph is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the men and women who built these planes. The photograph also serves as a reminder of the importance of the American industrial capacity in the war effort and its contribution to the victory.

#11 Gruel Rations.

(Photo by Fred Ramage/Keystone/Getty Images)

In the aftermath of WWII, the streets of Berlin were littered with debris and ruin, but amidst the destruction, a glimmer of hope could be found as young boys in the Charlottenburg district were served a nourishing ration of gruel in their school playground. The meal, provided by the compassionate British authorities, was a small but crucial step towards rebuilding and restoring the lives of those affected by the war.

#12 The Princess Signs Up.

(Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

In 1942, a 16-year-old Princess Elizabeth took a bold step towards serving her country by registering for war service under the Ministry of Labour’s Youth Registration Scheme. Determined to make a difference, she proudly donned her Girl Guide uniform, symbolizing her commitment to serving others and her readiness to play her part in the war effort. This act of courage and dedication, at such a young age, would become a defining moment in her journey towards becoming a beloved leader and the longest-reigning monarch in British history.

#13 Damaged Library

 (Photo by Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

On a fateful night in 1940, the peaceful tranquility of the Holland House library in Kensington, London was shattered as a Molotov ‘Breadbasket’ fire bomb descended upon it, causing extensive damage to the beloved institution. Amidst the chaos and destruction, one could not help but mourn the loss of the precious knowledge and history that was housed within its walls.

However, the building and its collection stood as a testament to the resilience and determination of the human spirit to rise above adversity, and it was eventually rebuilt to continue to serve as a beacon of learning and culture for future generations.

#14 World War Two: Europe 1945.

 (Photo by Horace Abrahams/Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images).

On a warm May day in 1945, two German women, who had served as auxiliaries of the Wehrmacht, walked towards captivity with heads held high. These brave women, who had fought for their country, now surrendered to soldiers from the United States Seventh Army near Bad Aibling in Bavaria, Germany.

The end of the war marked the end of their service but also the beginning of a new chapter for them, and for the world. Their surrender was a symbol of the end of the war, and the hope for a more peaceful future for all.

#15 Russia/Germany: A victorious Red Army soldier raises the Soviet Flag over the ruins of Stalingrad, February 1943.

 (Photo by: Pictures from History/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

In the ruins of Stalingrad, a Red Army soldier stood victorious, hoisting the Soviet flag high above the rubble. This moment, captured in February 1943, symbolized the turning point in the war, as the Soviet Union’s triumph at Stalingrad marked the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany’s advance into Eastern Europe.

The flag, waving in the wind, represented not only the military victory but also the resilience and determination of the Soviet people in the face of adversity, and their unwavering will to defend their homeland and ultimately achieve victory.

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