Nonfiction Short Stories

Weirder War Two – Richard Denham

16 June 2019
Weirder War Two: More Strange Facts, Unsolved Mysteries and Tall Tales from the Second World War Book Cover Weirder War Two: More Strange Facts, Unsolved Mysteries and Tall Tales from the Second World War
Richard Denham
Fun Facts
June 4, 2019

Did a Warner Bros. cartoon prophesize the use of the atom bomb? Did the Allies really plan to use stink bombs on the enemy? Why did the Nazis make their own version of Titanic and why were polar bear photographs appearing throughout Europe?

The Second World War was the bloodiest of all wars. Mass armies of men trudged, flew or rode from battlefields as far away as North Africa to central Europe, from India to Burma, from the Philippines to the borders of Japan. It saw the first aircraft carrier sea battle, and the indiscriminate use of terror against civilian populations in ways not seen since the Thirty Years War. Nuclear and incendiary bombs erased entire cities. V weapons brought new horror from the skies: the V1 with their hideous grumbling engines, the V2 with sudden, unexpected death. People were systematically starved: in Britain food had to be rationed because of the stranglehold of U-Boats, while in Holland the German blockage of food and fuel saw 30,000 die of starvation in the winter of 1944/5. It was a catastrophe for millions.

At a time of such enormous crisis, scientists sought ever more inventive weapons, or devices to help halt the war. Civilians were involved as never before, with women taking up new trades, proving themselves as capable as their male predecessors whether in the factories or the fields.

The stories in this book are of courage, of ingenuity, of hilarity in some cases, or of great sadness, but they are all thought-provoking - and rather weird. So whether you are interested in the last Polish cavalry charge, the Blackout Ripper, Dada, or Ghandi’s attempt to stop the bloodshed, welcome to the Weirder War Two!


Weirder War Two: More Strange Facts, Unsolved Mysteries and Tall Tales from the Second World War is a continuation from the first book with 101 new facts and tales. ‘Weirder’ is a useful term for the follow-on book, but the truth is, the stories are less weird, but still very interesting. The snippets are more informational as they feed into what we already know of many of the situations. The same coding with exclamation marks ranging from ! to !!!, is used, which is an indication of how weird the fact is – !!! being the weirdest.

One of the most iconic events of Nazi Germany prior to the outbreak of WWII was the Berlin Olympics. The games were a political football, especially between the US and Germany. It’s a Games that is famous for Jesse Owens winning 4 gold medals. The apparent slight from Hitler didn’t happen and in fact, the German people applauded Owens’ achievements and Hitler was noted for waving at him in applause. The Owens family compared the accolades the German people bestowed on Jesse to the discrimination back in the US where President Roosevelt received the white athletes from the games but did not invite Jesse to the White House. Owens also had to enter his own celebration through the hotel back door as blacks weren’t allowed to enter from the front.

Hitler believed he was guided by divine providence and many events reinforced that belief including the 30+ attempts on his life. In the end, it was only by his own hand that he died – allegedly. Maybe he’s still alive, living with Elvis.

Animals, particularly dogs, have always played an important place alongside their human companions in times of need. Their loyalty in war is monumental and many stories exist as to their bravery and selflessness. Several exist in this book. Judy and Chips both dogs and G.I. Joe the pigeon, all received the Dickin Medal for courage and endurance. They saved thousands of lives.

In the heat of battle, we see heroism, gallantry and valour that shines like a beacon reminding mankind that humanity hasn’t disappeared. One of my favourite stories is when a German Luftwaffe pilot, Franz Stigler came across a badly damaged B-17 Bomber after a bombing raid on Dresden, with no navigation and flown by pilot Charlie Brown, Stigler escorted it back towards England. Neither crew spoke about it again for fear of it becoming known by the respective authorities. By chance, they came across each other 40 years later and remained great friends until they both died in 2008.

I would recommend reading this collection of stories as it gives us insights into some of the weird, mysterious and intriguing moments during a world at war, especially if you enjoy compelling titbits of rare insights. There are some fascinating tales of unbelievable and almost impossible things.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” – Lewis Carroll

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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