Nonfiction War

Weird War 2 – Richard Denham

3 September 2018
Weird War 2 Book Cover Weird War 2
Richard Denham
Thistle Publishing

The Second World War is the bloodiest on record. It was the first total war in history when civilians; men, women and children were in the front line as never before. With so many millions involved, the rumour machine went into overdrive, tall stories built on fear of the unknown. With so much at stake, boffins battled with each other to build ever more bizarre weapons to out-gun the enemy. Nazi Germany alone had so many government-orchestrated foibles that they would be funny if they were not so tragic.

Parachuting sheep? Pilot pigeons? Rifles that fire round corners? Men who never were? You will find them all in these pages, the weird, wonderful and barely believable of World War Two


Weird War 2 is a collection of totally disparate facts from World War II that range from horrific to humorous, and from recognisable to strange. Most are aimed at being at least slightly weird, and it does reinforce the saying that “truth is stranger than fiction”. The stories cover all regions of conflict in WWII, including the Western front, the Eastern front, North Africa and the Pacific.

It is remarkable how creative and innovative we become during times of war and how technology advances made during WWI and WWII haven’t happened at the same pace since. The slant of this book is that not all creative solutions were grounded in common sense. For example, tank dogs left with a payload of explosives to run under an enemy tank and explode, but most returned to their owners killing more of them than the enemy. There were also plans to use cats, bats, rats and pigeons, and of course, there are always those myths around the Nazi gold, the supernatural, the occult and Sci-Fi advances.

One of the most touching stories is when a young British soldier Norman Turgel who was one of the first to enter the Bergen Belsen concentration camp and when he came across a young woman Gena, starving and in rags, he proclaimed that “This is the girl I’m going to marry”. They did marry and had a happy life together with 3 children. She became known as the Bride of Belsen.

All the facts are coded with exclamation marks ranging from ! to !!!, which is an indication of how weird the fact is. !!! being the weirdest. What I found was that it is a useful book to read for a bit of fun but only for short spells. Reading it in a continuous flow, with such diverse information, made it distracting for me. It’s like a lot of encyclopaedic reference books, they are great and interesting to delve into for short periods, but not as a read-through.

If you love titbits of information you’ll love this book. My son loves to challenge me with little snippets of information. I have my revenge.

Many thanks to Thistle Publishing Limited and NetGalley for an ARC version of the book in return for an honest review.

Peter Donnelly

Founder of The Reading Desk, supporting readers, authors, publishers and book industry. Top Reviewer on Amazon, Goodreads, and NetGalley

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