21 incredible insights that will change how you think of World War 2 forever
Family history guru, Myko Clelland delves into his Twitter archives to bring you his most jaw-dropping Second World War facts.
Millions of families are linked to the Second World War. A truly global conflict, it lasted for six years, directly involved over 100 million people from more than 30 countries and caused over 70 million deaths.
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For some of us, World War 2 is in living memory. For the rest of us, we rely on what we learned about it at school, from family, on TV and online. But there is so much more to World War 2 than meets the eye. So many fascinating people, events and facts are rarely mentioned. We want to change that.
Known for his colourful and insightful Twitter feed @DapperHistorian, we asked Myko Clelland to compile his favourite, most astonishing insights on the war. You probably didn't learn about any of these details in your school history books and they may just leave you reimagining everything you ever knew about the Second World War.
Amazing World War 2 facts
1. Creative propaganda
A very clever 1944 folding Dutch resistance cartoon, 'Where is the 5th pig?' pic.twitter.com/BxT25B1iki— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) February 14, 2020
2. Remembering the past in the present
75 years ago today, the city of Dresden was decimated by a terrible firebombing attack. Some years ago I saw their Frauenkirche for myself. Rebuilt and restored anew, but you can see it pays tribute to the past by incorporating surviving, blackened bricks in the construction. pic.twitter.com/aVoIl0n3Yt— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) February 13, 2020
3. Mapping out a different course of history
A rather curious 1941 Italian map, promoting just how easy an invasion of Britain & Ireland was believed to be... pic.twitter.com/JeshIVpOXa— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) January 8, 2020
4. The Second World Star War?!
Baby Yoda, found in 1941. pic.twitter.com/MB6Ikowuxv— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) December 6, 2019
5. Money problems
A 1943 guide to British coinage for deployed US soldiers, with a little help from Burgess Meredith & Bob Hope... pic.twitter.com/xNOeqvpoO5— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) December 3, 2019
6. "It's more like a club..."
A 1943 video made for American Soldiers based in Britain, an 'Introduction to the English Pub'... pic.twitter.com/iiK9joX0Li— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) November 10, 2019
Findmypast can help you trace US troops who were stationed in the UK during World War 2. Start your search in record collections like US Servicemen In North Devon, England 1943-1945.
7. Then and now
“We're all ghosts. We all carry, inside us, people who came before us.”— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) July 11, 2019
76 years ago today the Allies landed in my hometown of Gela as the invasion of Sicily began. I took this photo on that very same spot & brought the past to life. pic.twitter.com/t8GAsV8ats
8. Indestructible memories
After the WW2 battle of St Malo, France, the Allies used tanks and AT weaponry to see how much damage this German machine gun Turret in Fort de la Cité d’Alet could take. Almost every shell bounced off, or embedded into the armoured steel without penetrating. pic.twitter.com/KvEM33BVZ4— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) May 21, 2019
9. What could have been...
A German produced WW2 map, showing plans for the invasion of Britain. Note the cartoon steam ships and stick man paratrooper... pic.twitter.com/R99LbkHkq4— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) February 13, 2019
10. Thirsty work
In 1944, beer was sent to Allied soldiers in Normandy by strapping kegs to Spitfires. Flying at 12,000ft chilled the beer to perfection! pic.twitter.com/i2Yj0En41r— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) May 23, 2018
For a one-stop-shop of Allied Forces records, explore our exclusive World War 2 Allies Collection. From service records to rolls of honour, it contains over 15 million records, handpicked by our in-house military experts.
11. No joke...
Taken from a 1940s Joke book... pic.twitter.com/Ez5fS8CUZD— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) October 18, 2017
12. Makeup and mend
During WW2, women didn't let fabric shortage ruin fashion: Makeup could recreate stockings, with gravy to paint legs & drawn eyeliner seams! pic.twitter.com/Xmbz2lZEct— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) September 30, 2017
13. D-Day in detail
Today in 1944 the D-Day landings took place, the sheer size, numbers and logistics involved is astounding even today pic.twitter.com/HKWdYB3wDv— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) June 6, 2016
What was it like to experience the D-Day landings in Normandy? Read this moving account from a veteran who was there.
14. We're still making discoveries
65 years after crashing into a Welsh beach, an American P-38 fighter was revealed in 2007. It now lies reburied... pic.twitter.com/M6sfkal0md— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) October 25, 2016
15. Carrot pops?!
For those who felt the need to cool down in the British summers of WW2, rationing only brought disappointment... pic.twitter.com/xvqVIZ4yoo— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) July 19, 2016
16. What's your family connection?
71 years ago today, my 4th cousin, Harry Bluett Liversedge commanded the regiment that created this iconic picture. pic.twitter.com/Xjs4mHZQSR— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) February 23, 2016
17. Leaked evidence
A 1939 British propaganda poster of Nazi war aims. Although hysterical at the time, it seems eerily prophetic now... pic.twitter.com/GIMm4AzH50— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) October 26, 2015
18. Art imitating life
Damien Lewis of "Band of Brothers", standing in the same spot as the original Captain Dick Winters, 64 years later. pic.twitter.com/CLj4ET6IPg— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) October 15, 2015
19. The view from above
A 1944 Axis North Sea convoy being strafed by RAF Beaufighters, a view of war you rarely see that really brings home just how terrifying it must have been. pic.twitter.com/9BQrWOf6fW— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) April 22, 2020
20. A TV moment for the ages
Sir Nicholas Winton saved the lives of 669 mostly Jewish children, rescuing them from Czechoslovakia on the eve of WW2. His efforts went largely unnoticed until 1988, when his wife found a scrapbook, and he was invited to sit in on a very special TV show... pic.twitter.com/LIdiaxXM27— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) May 5, 2020
21. Welcome home heroes
The RMS Queen Elizabeth, arriving in New York with returning WW2 soldiers in 1945. So many people, so many stories. So many fathers, brothers, uncles, sons. pic.twitter.com/JxXjIeM5KK— Myko Clelland (@DapperHistorian) May 8, 2020
Has this list of lesser-known facts and insights inspired you to discover your own family's role in World War 2? Perhaps the women in your family were GI Brides or maybe your relatives took part in VE Day celebrations? Whatever your connection to the Second World War, Findmypast is the place to unlock more about it.