Historical Events That Sound Like Fiction But Are Completely True

History is littered with events that sound like lies or fables but in actuality are facts.

The improbable may sound made up by some really strange things have happened!

Redditor SkunkytheSkunk7 asked everyone to share what wild things they knew to be true:

"What sounds like fiction but is actually a real historical event?"

I really wish history classes in school would get into more of the soap opera of it all.

People would stay awake for this stuff.


Streaming Rabbit Hole GIF by Feliks Tomasz KonczakowskiGiphy

"In 1980 Lake Peigneur in Louisiana drained like a bathtub with the plug removed. Oil Drillers on a rig in the lake had hit a mine shaft below. The rig, barges, a tugboat and part of a nearby island got sucked into the largest man-made whirlpool ever."


Dumped in the Ocean

"Operation Mincemeat. The allies planted a dead body with fake battle plans to trick the Germans into thinking that the allies were going to attack Sardinia when they were in fact going to attack Sicily."

"They built an entire life for this dead, fake, military man, dumped him in the ocean, and successfully distracted the Germans."




"In 1971, a teenage girl named Juliane Koepcke was on a plane that was struck by lightning and disintegrated in the air. She plummeted 3,000 meters strapped to her seat, and landed in the Amazon rainforest."

"Her mom had been on the flight with her, and Juliane searched in vain for her mom, but Juliane was the sole survivor of the crash."

"She survived 11 days alone, treating her maggot-infested wounds with fuel and using tracking techniques her father had taught her, before she found a boat that she used to make her way back to civilization."

"What an absolute legend."


Sitting Around

"Due to a military stand off that took years, 15 ships became stranded in an inland sea, and over 8 years formed a multi-national ship-based society that even included it's own currency. Google the Yellow Fleet. The yellow was because of blowing sand that gradually just accumulated on the ships."


"Suez Canal. The Great Sand Fleet I think the ships were nicknamed. The Swedish ship had a swimming pool, so they hosted pool parties. Another ship hosted movie nights."

"The ships were American, British, German, Bulgarian, Swedish (did I leave anyone out?) Since it was soooo boring to just sit on the ships, crews were rotated every 6 months. By the time the ships could finally leave, only 1, the German boat, could move under it's own power. It got a hero's welcome when it finally sailed into Germany."


Richard Parker

Altered Carbon Dust GIF by NETFLIXGiphy

"Edgar Allen Poe wrote a novel in 1838 in which 4 shipwrecked survivors, at the point of starvation, choose to resort to cannibalism. So they kill the young cabin boy, Richard Parker, and eat him."

"In 1884, a ship called the Mignonette sank. 4 crew members survived. At the point of starvation, they killed and ate the youngest of them: Richard Parker."


Poe was really brilliant. He could see a story a mile away.


Hungry Ren And Stimpy GIF by NickRewindGiphy

"The Soviet scientists starving to death saving the seed bank of Leningrad during Hitler's invasion in the winter of 1941-42 despite it being full of corn, wheat and potatoes."


"They ran out of food but couldn’t eat anything from the seed bank since they needed to preserve its stocks."


Elephant Island

"The escape from Antarctica by the members of the Antarctic expedition led by Ernest Shackleton. The stuff they went through was unbelievable. Their boat, the Endurance was crushed by ice floes. They were stranded on the floes for over a year in temperatures well below freezing."

"They then took to three boats around 22 feet in length across the antarctic ocean looking for land. There were about 10 men in each boat. They missed reaching land by just a few miles at times. Two thirds of them got stranded on Elephant Island surrounded by ice while one of the boats went out in search of rescue."

"That boat made it through the Drake Passage, one of the deadliest places in the ocean. All but three of them got stranded with little food and water while the three men who left became the first people the cross South Georgia on foot. They found civilization. Rescued the men who came through the Drake Passage."

"Waited months until they could rescue those on Elephant Island. Every single person who came on the initial voyage survived with the worst lasting consequence being a single foot amputation."



"An English king named Ethelred, later called the Unready, took some troops to defend against a Viking invasion. The weather was bad, so a lot of the Vikings’ ships crashed as they were landing. Ethelred thought that it would be dishonourable to attack them as they were stumbling onto shore."

"So he kept his troops back until the Vikings had a chance to get together and form proper battle lines before he attacked them. The better prepared Vikings then won the fight and slaughtered a bunch of Ethelred’s men and he and the rest were forced to run away while the Vikings went around pillaging."


A Stench

"The 'Great Stink' was an event in central London in 1858."

"The hot weather exacerbated the smell of untreated human waste and industrial effluent that was present on the banks of the River Thames."


Hero Bear

Greetings Hello GIFGiphy

"Wojtek was a bear who fought Nazis in return for cigarettes and beer. He didn’t die until 20 years after WW2."


"My favorite part about that story is that after the war he lived in a zoo. It was common for soldiers from the bear's company to come visit and simply jump into the enclosure to play with him, much to the zoo keepers' annoyance."


Truth really is stranger than fiction.

Do you have any strange historical stories to share? Let us know in the comments below!

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