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Xelebes
03-17-2010, 11:31 PM
Ok, I'm brainstorming a new story here and so I need to do some research to hobble together a plot. Anyways, I'm looking for stories of really odd happenings happening during the two World Wars.

For example, there is the story of Foo Fighters from World War II and Gremlins from the same war. However, I have not come across any weird stories from the Great War - or don't know where to start looking for them in the first place.

Chris P
03-17-2010, 11:37 PM
One true story is the WWII paratrooper who fell something like 18,000 feet without his chute and lived. RAF guy, can't remember his name.

Another true one: The scientists building the A-bomb called the air force about a strange light in the sky that they were sure was a Japanese spy plane. The Air Force telegraphed the next day to say that it regretted its inability to shoot down the planet Venus. [From Rhodes - The Making of the Atomic Bomb]

As far as totally fantastic folklore, it's hard to separate what was being said at the time from later Hollywood inventions. I'm sure there are books on war folklore or ghostly stories from the war.

ETA: The Barnes and Nobel website is turning up very little on the subject. Interesting.

RJK
03-17-2010, 11:48 PM
Not a fantastic tale, but one my father told us. While on maneuvers in a downpour, they returned to camp for a meal. the cook ladled out soup and gave each soldier a hunk of French bread. The men trooped back out of the tent and found a log to sit on to eat. As the rain poured over their helmets, and down their collars, they spooned out their soup. twenty minutes later, the men noticed their tins were still full. no one could figure out why they still had soup after eating for so long.
Finally, the sergeant told them their tins were full of rain water.
I guess you had to be there, to see the humor.

benbradley
03-17-2010, 11:53 PM
This isn't "really odd," it's just a saying, and as far as I know this is not a myth (as in it's plausible and could easily be true), but there's the saying about smoking cigarettes and lighting up - "Three on a match is bad luck." The story is supposedly that lighting three guy's cigarettes on one match at night would give the enemy enough time to take aim and fire.

There's the saying "Kilroy was here."

Xelebes
03-17-2010, 11:55 PM
"Kilroy was here."

Ah yes, Kilroy. That's a good one.

thothguard51
03-18-2010, 12:15 AM
I know this is a true one, I just don't remember all the particulars.

During WWl, while in the trenches, french and German soldiers had an unofficial cease fire as they both sang xmas songs from their trenches. I think it only lasted just until the 26Th.

I was told by an retired US Army General, that during WWll, the allies actually had a plan for dumping crude oil on the polar caps to melt them, thus flooding the world to stop the Germans. He also sad the first atomic blast was not American, but when the allies bombed a German heavy water plant. He might have been pulling my leg on this one, but if I remember right, the Movie, Where Eagles Dare, was loosely based on this fact.

Xelebes
03-18-2010, 12:18 AM
I know this is a true one, I just don't remember all the particulars.

During WWl, while in the trenches, french and German soldiers had an unofficial cease fire as they both sang xmas songs from their trenches. I think it only lasted just until the 26Th.

Yes, that would be Christmas 1914.

Xelebes
03-18-2010, 12:40 AM
Some myths propogated during the wars as told by my dad:

From WWI, the soldiers were given spinach (often canned) in the belief that it would make them stronger. This is where Popeye's spinach comes from.

From WWII, pilots were given carrot juice in the belief that it would make them see better.

Not really up to the fantastical beings that I was looking for but myths nonetheless.

Chris P
03-18-2010, 12:45 AM
He also sad the first atomic blast was not American, but when the allies bombed a German heavy water plant. He might have been pulling my leg on this one, but if I remember right, the Movie, Where Eagles Dare, was loosely based on this fact.

I'm 99% sure this is not true. The Germans by the end of the war were about about three or so years behind the US in developing a fission device, let alone a heavy water fusion device. This incident is not related in Rhodes' encyclopedic "The Making of the Atomic Bomb," which would have surely reported it if it were true.

firedrake
03-18-2010, 12:47 AM
This is probably worth checking out.

Angel of Mons (http://www.worldwar1.com/heritage/angel.htm)

thothguard51
03-18-2010, 12:47 AM
Despite the fact that Raiders of the Lost Ark is fiction, the Germans really did send teams of archaeologist out to find hidden treasures and other things. I doubt though they were looking for magical powers, but more for riches. Now if you search into the medical experiments performed by mad German scientist, perhaps there you could find some myths, or create some...

Canotila
03-18-2010, 01:07 AM
There was Dr. Mengle, who did some really weird experiments with twins, among other people.

I was at a veteran's reunion once and got to meet a soldier involved in the capture of the U boat U-234, which was on its way to deliver atom bomb making supplies to Japan. There are some legends suggesting those supplies ended up in the Manhattan Project, even though the government insists everything in making the bomb was strictly American made.

Linda Adams
03-18-2010, 01:27 AM
If you have Barnes and Noble, look at their bargain book section. I'm pretty sure I've seen something like this there.

SirOtter
03-18-2010, 01:41 AM
This is probably worth checking out.

Angel of Mons (http://www.worldwar1.com/heritage/angel.htm)

'Mildly supernatural stories'?!?!?!? Arthur Machen was one of the greats of the horror genre, and wrote some pretty tough horror yarns. 'The Novel of the White Powder' inspired half of the stories in EC's Tales From the Crypt comics, and Stephen King said of Machen's novella 'The Great God Pan' that it was maybe the best horror story in the English language. 'Mildly', my left testicle!

Shakesbear
03-18-2010, 02:04 AM
Military Anecdotes type books may have some odd stories.

I have also heard the story about not using a match to light three cigarettes, as told by benbradley. My grandfather told me that one - he was there. He was shot in the face during the Battle of the Somme.

WriteKnight
03-18-2010, 04:17 AM
Google up "The Oxford Book of Military Anecdotes" - get a copy if you can, lots of stuff from ancient to modern.

benbradley
03-18-2010, 05:48 AM
I know this is a true one, I just don't remember all the particulars.

During WWl, while in the trenches, french and German soldiers had an unofficial cease fire as they both sang xmas songs from their trenches. I think it only lasted just until the 26Th.

Yes, that would be Christmas 1914.
I also understand this is a true story. This might be "more appropriate" for Christmastime, but there's a rather famous song based on the story, played live here, with introduction:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9coPzDx6tA
Read the lyrics here:
http://www.worldwar1.com/sfcitt.htm
Original recording here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-gx2cAUo7i4

Might be NSFW or for wherever else you are, unless it's really okay for those around you to see you in a babbling, quivering mess. Have Kleenex standing by.

Mac H.
03-18-2010, 09:27 AM
From WWII, pilots were given carrot juice in the belief that it would make them see better.This was a clever myth put out by the English.

Basically their accuracy when shooting down the enemy had dramatically increased. Rather than saying publicly "Our success rate has improved because we have a bit of a breakthrough with our invention of 'Airborne Interception Radar. We hope the Germans don't figure it out" .. they stuck to the good old 'carrots' rationale.

There were plenty of urban myths around both wars. For example, there would often be the stories about locals helping a Nun who turned out to be German/British/whoever the enemy is soldier in disguise.

---

While researching a World War I project of my own I came across an interesting anecdote.

During World War I, the first troop ships sent by the Aussies to help was sent out with a huge fanfare.

It was a big fuss about them going - they were a boatload of enthusiastic soldiers - all young and ready to do their bit for the motherland.

And they all got gonorrhoea at the first port.

They were sent back in disgrace.

I'll see if I can track down where I read it.

Mac

reiver33
03-18-2010, 10:32 AM
Spinach eating was unfortunately based on a misprint in which the decimal point for the iron content was one digit out, making it look like it had 10 times the actual content.

There were various reports of ‘Foo Fighters’ or ‘Foo-Gas Fighters’ dogging Allied bombers. They were variously described as being disc shaped, with no obvious means of propulsion, and surrounded by a gaseous/glowing ‘aura’. If fired at they would veer off sharply but subsequently return. If allowed to draw close to an aircraft they would induce engine failure, seemingly through some form of electrical interference. Now, there were a lot of esoteric, inspired and downright bizarre projects given the green light in late-war Germany, such as surface-to-air wire guided and radar guided anti-aircraft missiles, variable geometry (swing-wing) fighters, (sub) surface-to-surface missiles (launched from a U-Boat), amongst others – but I’ve not come across any ‘official’ project which matches this.

Germany simply didn’t have the funds or resources to develop an atomic weapon – it spent about the same on rocketry as the allies did on the Manhattan Project; the German army could understand rocketry (it’s a self-propelled artillery shell) but not the theoretical concept of the A-Bomb.

It’s been said that under a dictatorship (of left or right), anything is possible – if you get the backing of the ‘main man’ then any idea, no matter how outlandish, can be put into practice. I’d actually go further and say that everything is possible, as there is no one willing to give the guy in charge a reality check…

StephanieFox
03-19-2010, 12:06 AM
The carrots for eyesight myth actually has a basis in fact. A lack of vitamin A can cause night blindness, a serious condition for any soldier. Before anyone knew the cause, it was a condition that could send someone back who was trying to come through Ellis Island.

Carrots, of course, are high in Vitamin A. Therefore, if they prevented night blindness the logic went, they of course must make eyesight better.

Not that much difference from current food fads and beliefs.

veinglory
03-19-2010, 12:28 AM
From WWII, pilots were given carrot juice in the belief that it would make them see better.


As I understand it this was a cover story for the greatly increased ability of shore defenses to detect incoming aircraft, actually due to the invention of radar.

Edit: they beat me to it :)

veinglory
03-19-2010, 12:30 AM
Despite the fact that Raiders of the Lost Ark is fiction, the Germans really did send teams of archaeologist out to find hidden treasures and other things....

This was generally part of their effort to create a "real" history of the Aryan race--a.k.a. finmd a way to take credit for pretty much every major historical acheivement. For example they were trying to find Shangrilah and show that Tibetans had Aryan ancestry.

Xelebes
03-19-2010, 02:42 AM
Just remembered another one thanks to those from a military forum: the Philadelphia Experiment.

hammerklavier
03-19-2010, 05:36 AM
On another forum I read that some guy had someone argue with him that the Germans had a machine gun that fired so fast that there were three bullets in the barrel at once. His father, who fought in WWII told him this. It's a physical impossibility, of course, but the people on the receiving end may have thought it was firing that fast.

Jamie Stone
03-19-2010, 06:09 AM
http://lotgk.wordpress.com/2007/10/12/world-war-ii-ghost-story/
Someone's WW2 ghost story, didn't read it through.

http://www.cco.caltech.edu/~drmiles/ghost_stories.html
People see ghosts on the USS Hornet.

Don't know how good these are, they were the first things that showed up on a Google search for "supernatural world war ii." You could very well make something up, if you're writing fiction; I'm sure any kind of mishap, etc, could be blamed on the supernatural, and from there myths might crop up in the platoons and such.

Look at me, using fancy military words like platoons. XD Truth be told I know little to nothing about military structure or anything, so don't mind me. =D

SirOtter
03-19-2010, 06:51 AM
Despite the fact that Raiders of the Lost Ark is fiction, the Germans really did send teams of archaeologist out to find hidden treasures and other things. I doubt though they were looking for magical powers, but more for riches. Now if you search into the medical experiments performed by mad German scientist, perhaps there you could find some myths, or create some...

No, the film was right on Hitler's fascination with the occult. What it got wrong was that while Egypt was no longer a British protectorate in the 30s, the Brits still exerted a lot of control over the country. There's no way they would have allowed that many armed Nazi soldiers into Egypt to dig around in what they considered their back yard.

Aztecsince79
03-24-2010, 02:13 AM
Linda is right. Barnes & Noble had in its bargain section a year or two ago a series of books like "Unexplained Mysteries of WWII", "Undercover Tales of WWII" and "Daring Missions of WWII," all by a William Breuer. Interesting stuff.

Becky Black
03-24-2010, 03:16 PM
I saw something recently on a documentary about the various attempts to kill Hitler. The British Special Operations Executive apparently proposed a plan to hypnotise Rudolf Hess, who was a prisoner of the British by then, and release him back to Germany programmed to kill Hitler as soon as he was accepted back into the Nazi inner circles. Obviously this was never put into effect - if it was ever really a serious proposal and if it's even true.

Anaximander
03-25-2010, 03:34 PM
From WWII, pilots were given carrot juice in the belief that it would make them see better.As people have said, the carrots story was a cover for radar. It was put out to stop the Germans from getting too curious about how the RAF could locate and intercept their aircraft so well, even at night. It's a decent part of what won the Battle of Britain; the RAF were outnumbered, but radar allowed to send what aircraft they had to the place where they could do the most.


The Germans by the end of the war were about about three or so years behind the US in developing a fission device, let alone a heavy water fusion device. This incident is not related in Rhodes' encyclopedic "The Making of the Atomic Bomb," which would have surely reported it if it were true.The main reason that the Germans were further behind in atom bomb development is that they weren't trying to build one. The Germans mostly just wanted nuclear technology for power plants, largely because it would allow them to power their country with much fewer power stations, which was important because the RAF kept bombing their power stations in order to disrupt factories and things. The closest that Hitler's Germany came to using or pursuing the use of nuclear weaponry was in the last-ditch attempt to bomb New York with a high-tech super-long-range bomber. One of the plans devised for this desperate attempt to force America out of the war was to drop a single HUGE bomb on New York that was filled with sand taken from around a nuclear reactor. This sand would obviously be radioactive, and New York would be irradiated, which would kinda cripple America's economy.
Luckily, the America Bomber plan never came off, partly because building an aircraft that could fly that far was very difficult in those days, and partly because any time they worked out a design that came close to having the necessary range, the RAF found the factory where it was being built and flattened it. They got pretty good at that by the end of the war.


Just remembered another one thanks to those from a military forum: the Philadelphia Experiment.
Now this is a good one. There are sooooo many wacky theories about this one. The accepted tale is that the US Navy was looking into some form of stealth for its warships. Many say that it involved bending light, using some kind of electromagntic/gravitational/insert-wacky-science-here generator. Supposedly, something odd happened and, depending on who you talk to, the results involved a selection of the following: people dying, people vanishing, the entire ship vanishing, vanished people/stuff/ship re-appearing later and/or somewhere else, people and/or the whole ship travelling through some kind of alternate dimension, or through time, or both... yeah, the reports vary hugely, and as you'd expect, conspiracy theories abound. There's a good amount of material there for war-related weirdness.

Hip-Hop-a-potamus
03-26-2010, 05:49 AM
True instead of myth, but I always thought "The Man Who Never Was" concept was outstanding.

Taking a corpse, dressing it up with false identity papers and some "confidential" information on the invasion of Sardinia...

Brilliant.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Man_Who_Never_Was

Aztecsince79
03-27-2010, 01:07 AM
The whole pre-D-Day deception plan was pretty fascinating, too.

slcboston
03-27-2010, 01:24 AM
With respect to the Raider's of the Lost Ark angle mentioned above:

The Nazi hierarchy was heavy into the occult and other odd things. Much of it was about such things as adding to the coffers and establishing an Aryan history, but there were other elements to it as well, and I remember reading somewhere some bizarre stories of some of the rituals and things they went through.

Not Hitler specifically, I seem to recall this being more Himmler and some of the SS, but this is all off the top of my head at the moment.

hammerklavier
03-27-2010, 01:36 AM
any time they worked out a design that came close to having the necessary range, the RAF found the factory where it was being built and flattened it. They got pretty good at that by the end of the war.


The RAF wasn't the only air force good a flattening factories... and our boys flew daylight missions when they could actually see their target :)

Anaximander
03-27-2010, 02:16 PM
The RAF wasn't the only air force good a flattening factories... and our boys flew daylight missions when they could actually see their target :)
Yeah, there's an interesting tactical difference there. The issue was that raids flying by day would be attacked by German fighters. The US responded by building bigger bombers that could fly higher to escape the fighters, and carry more guns to defend themselves when the Germans inevitably developed high-altitude interceptors. They also took to sending them with partial bombloads, so that they wouldn't be quite so badly weighed down and so would retain a bit of manoeuvrability and be less like sitting targets, and they developed the 'bomber box' formation so that all the aircraft in the box could cover each other's blind spots.
The RAF, on the other hand, switched to mostly bombing by night, and developed high-tech ways of navigating accurately so that they could find their targets - things like Oboe, Gee, H2S and other radio navigation aids. They also formed the Pathfinders, who would fly things like Mosquito light bombers, which were small, hand no guns, were made mostly of balsa wood and had two Merlin engines, so they were actually fast enough to outrun fighters while carrying bombs. The pathfinders would go in ahead of a big raid, under the radar and using radio navigation to find the target, and drop coloured flares around the target area to mark and illuminate. Then, when the main bomber force arrived, the Pathfinders would often leave an aircraft circling nearby, relaying instructions to the bombers - things like '281, your target is 200yards east of the red flare' or '38, your target is on the white flare, watch the guns to the south'. The RAF also got into the habit of splitting a raid so that the aircraft flew towards four or five cities, to force the German night fighters to spread out, and then at predetermined points they'd turn and converge over another city, just when the Germans had decided that that city was probably safe for the night. By 1943 or 44, thousand-bomber raids were not uncommon - one thousand aircraft over the same target in one night. And then the US bombers would take over in the daytime, so the enemy didn't really have time to repair and regroup.

CoriSCapnSkip
03-27-2010, 02:18 PM
Has anyone written a book about the exaggerated tales of atrocities committed by "the Huns" in WWI, and how many people during WWII disbelieved the real atrocities until facts came out, because the WWI stories were mostly made up?

hammerklavier
03-28-2010, 01:23 AM
I'm sure there are plenty such books. I've just finished reading James A Michener's Poland, which officially is a novel, but very close to the historical facts. He has a chapter called "The Terror" about the German occupation which was very brutal.

There's one story in the book where a concentration camp worker (they would build Volkswagen, etc, factories around concentration work camps, which held regular Poles as well as Jews) found a document explaining how the SS was to control the diet of the prisoners in order to control them. He managed to get the document to someone who could smuggle it out of the camp. This person gave it to the underground resistance who smuggled it through a series of contacts, everyone in the chain risking their lives. Finally, the document made its way to Washington, where and official looked at it, called it Jewish propoganda and filed it away.