Do you have a relative who fought in the deadliest conflict in human history?
World War II raged for close to 6 years, with over 30 years of political turmoil in central and western Europe leading up to a massive war that destroyed so much history throughout the earth. The eastern front in Asia, led by Japan, and the western front in Europe, led by Nazi Germany, ravaged humankind to their very core.
Family members who fought in this difficult piece of history no doubt have seen far too much for one lifetime.
Redditors whose father, grandfather or great grandfather fought in WWII, what is their most interesting war story they've told you?
Here were some of those stories.
The Terrors Of The South PacificGiphy
What's more interesting is what they DIDN'T say.
On the 4th of July, we were never allowed to have fireworks at my cousin's farm. We'd hang out all day and we didn't go into town for anything - my cousins had never even been to a parade. This was in a place and time where EVERYONE had firecrackers.
Because my uncle, who had served in the South Pacific, couldn't be around fireworks. If he heard a bang, including a car backfiring, he hit the deck before he even knew he'd heard a noise.
It wasn't slow like a tree falling - it was more like he was instantly down flat, almost pressed down to get UNDER the dirt. He also came back with his hair pure white and an understanding of basic Japanese. My dad, all my uncles, everyone had served in WWII, but he was the one left with this reflex. I asked my mom about it.
Me, about age 9: Wow. I guess that's how he stayed alive.
My mom: Oh, no, he was never anywhere near combat. They teach them that in basic training.
Me: Um, how do you know he never was in combat?
My mom: He told us in his letters. He was never in danger.
She is now 90 and she still believes her brother was never in combat.
Well, not a typical war story, but here it is. My Dad was reported MIA in the Battle of the Bulge. My Grandfather had a "nervous breakdown" and went to Canada for a rest cure. Came back with a mistress, moved her into the family home, with my Grandmother & Aunt. My Dad was found relatively unharmed. The mistress stayed. NO ONE talked about it. She became an unofficial "aunt" while I was growing up. I didn't figure it out until I was much older. Good times, eh?
The Truest Terrors Of War
Context: The Netherlands (neighbor of Germany)
My grandmother worked as a nurse, during the war. She was engaged to a man who was drafted. At some point during the war, everyone lost contact with her fiance and presumed him dead. A year after the war, my grandma was engaged to another man, when her first fiance suddenly came knocking on her door. She decided to stay with her current fiance, who became my grandfather.
She never actually told me this, I had to hear it from aunts and uncles after she passed away. The war was very traumatising for her. She had to flee north with patients as the Germans invaded from the south.
Before that, her youngest brother was one of the first in the country to be sent in front of a shooting squad for rebellious acts (the youngest of the eighteen dead), after telling his father all would be fine because he was too young and to not cover for him. He knew he'd be murdered while writing that letter and my great grandfather never forgave himself for that. They stole fireworks from the Germans.
Her other brother died due to pneumonia, after being put in the halls of the hospital because there weren't enough rooms to hold all the patients.
My grandma lost a lot in the war.
A Reason To Fight
Maybe not war story, but happened in WWII regardless.
TLDR: Grandfather was deployed in Europe and met my grandmother. The two sent letters back and forth and the guys in the mail room edited them to look like they both liked each other. My grandfather proposed after a year into this. She said yes.
Long story: So my grandparents are both very old. They were young but of age at the time of WWII. My grandfather is an American man and could've been the poster child for the typical all-American. He joined the army in WWII and was deployed in Europe. My grandmother was born and raised in Southwestern Germany. Lived in a beaten up town from bombings but still had a house standing.
My grandfather was off on a motorcycle trip through the country side and stopped in my grandmother's town. He came to like her and continued to stop by. Later on, the war ended and he was sent back to America. My grandmother remained in Germany. The two mutually agreed to send letters back and forth. While my grandfather still remained in the army, all mail went through the mailroom. Well they sent love letters for a while and his buddies in the mailroom saw them. After a long time of this, my grandmother had enough of my grandfather and sent him the "go away" letter. The buddies in the mailroom started editing the letters between the two.
Once again, a long time passed and this continued to go on and my grandfather went back to Southwestern Germany to propose to my grandmother. He had a round trip ticket for himself and a one way to the US. Needless to say, my grandmother was very surprised when he showed up. Things slowly unfolded and she said yes. She packed up her belongings (which weren't much because of the war) and flew back to the US. The two married, had the buddies in the mailroom become groomsmen, and settled in a city. They have been married for over sixty years and still live in America today.
The Most Infamous Battle Of The WarGiphy
My step grandfather spent some time in North Africa and was in Normandy. He was part of a crew on a half track. They saw a lot of action. They used molotov cocktails against tanks because they didn't have much firepower to knock them out. They would throw the molotov cocktail on the tank and catch it on fire, then shoot the crew when they tried to escape.
They caught a bunch of Germans in a staff car and took them out. Another time a sniper was shooting from a brick building. Their bullets weren't having much effect and so they just rammed the building to eliminate him.
His tour came to an end when they were engaged by a 88 cannon in France during the breakout from Normandy. They had seen them in North Africa and knew that they were very accurate. They would first fire 2 shots. One to get the range, another to get the angle ( left/right ). The third shot would be dead on.
So they saw the first two shots and knew that they would not make cover before the 3rd. So they stopped the halftrack. 4 of the guys took cover under the halftrack, he dove into the ditch. The 4 guys under the halftrack died. He woke up a week later, naked, in a hospital in England.
Precursor To Pearl Harbor
My grandfather was in the Navy and was stationed on the U.S.S. Indianapolis. He was part of the group of soldiers that got off in Guam 2 days before the ship was sunk by the Japanese. He never really talked about it, as pretty much all of his friends in the Navy died on that day.
A Slice Of Life In The Darkness
He didn't fight, but my grandpa was a child in Germany at the time. One of my favorite stories from his is at the end of the war, US troops were heading past his family's farm. Some of the group broke off and came to the house. They didn't speak German, and none of his family spoke English. Eventually they figured out the troops wanted milk. They handed over a decent amount. And the troops took it back to the rest of the group.
They kind of stood around with it for a bit, and eventually brought whatever it was in back to the house, and started passing drinks out. They took the milk to make chocolate milk for all the kids on the farm.
Mismanaged Pain Medicine
Not a relative of mine, but I met a man who stormed Omaha Beach and was a main advisor to Spielberg for Saving Private Ryan. He got shot in the face and several other places on his body by an ambushing machine gun.
Interestingly, the little morphine shots they had irl were slightly less than a lethal dose, so two of them would kill you. In the film, when they give the medic a second shot of morphine, it's the morphine that kills him.
Begone Ye Pestilents
My grandfather was in the Eight Air Division in WWII. He flew close to 30 missions in B-17s. His most notable mission was in 1944 when he and his crew were shot down over north-eastern France. According to a current map it was somewhere between Metz, FR and Luxembourg City, LX.
He said they crash landed in a field and one of his crew members was killed by a German farmer with a pitch fork. They spent a few days avoiding capture by Nazi soldiers by hiding in the woods. At some point they came across a skirmish between Americans and Nazis. They hid in the forest and only came out in the morning after all the fighting had stopped for awhile.
He told me that they figured out who was fighting the night before by inspecting the bodies. There were numerous dead Nazis but no dead Americans. He told me that at this point in the war, Nazis were not diligent about taking home their dead, but the Americans were.
People from a nearby village apparently came out and found my grandpa with his crew in a field full of dead Nazis. They asked if they had killed all those Nazis by themselves and my grandpa said "of course we did".
I think it took them about a week after crashing to come across Allied soldiers and get rescued.
I wish I could remember more details but the last time he told me that story was over ten years ago, shortly before he died.
The Memory Does Live OnGiphy
My grandfather was an officer in the US 103rd Infantry Division - known at that time as the Timberwolves. They fought in Normandy, and went on to help liberate Belgium and the Netherlands.
Forty years later, in the 1980s, my grandfather was riding around the Netherlands with my uncle (who lived there at the time). At one point, south of Utrecht, my grandfather started giving my uncle directions on where to go:
Turn right here...
I think we take the third left, yes....
Keep on this road until we get to a village...
OK. Stop by the building on this corner.
They got out of the car, and my grandfather explained. "Nobody remembers this. My troops came in and retook this village under heavy fire from the Nazis. It was the worst combat we had seen since the invasion. I lost my First Officer to enemy fire. Nobody remembers this. Nobody cares anymore."
My uncle's girlfriend looked up, and pointed out the name of the street that they had stopped on: "Timberwolfstraacht." The sign even noted that it was dedicated to the battle, and noted the date of the liberation.
History is full of infamous disasters one can't imagine experiencing in their lifetimes.
The same can probably be said of our ancestors if they became privy to some of the horrific events that have occurred in our modern era.
Which are the most frightening?
That is exactly what Redditor dat_b_o_i asked strangers on the internet in the subReddit titled:
"What is an terrifying historical fact that you know?"
Remnants from the past still pose risks.
"There is a missing hydrogen bomb somewhere off the beach where my family vacations..."
"Tybee Island AKA Savannah Beach"
'The Tybee Island mid-air collision was an incident on February 5, 1958, in which the United States Air Force lost a 7,600-pound (3,400 kg) Mark 15 nuclear bomb in the waters off Tybee Island near Savannah, Georgia, United States. During a practice exercise, an F-86 fighter plane collided with the B-47 bomber carrying the bomb. To protect the aircrew from a possible detonation in the event of a crash, the bomb was jettisoned. Following several unsuccessful searches, the bomb was presumed lost somewhere in Wassaw Sound off the shores of Tybee Island.'
"when the USSR collapsed, multiple nuclear weapons and boxes full of vials of smallpox were lost."
– User Deleted
Nuclear Weapons Gaffe
"Since 1950, there have been 32 'Broken Arrow' incidents, out of which 6 of these warheads were not recovered or accounted for. It remains unknown how many such incidents the Soviet Union had."
"Sleep well tonight, my friends."
These fascinating historical facts might be unfamiliar to most people.
"The dancing plague of 1518, or dance epidemic of 1518, was a case of dancing mania that occurred in Strasbourg, Alsace (modern-day France), in the Holy Roman Empire from July 1518 to September 1518. Somewhere between 50 and 400 people took to dancing for weeks."
Kids In Battle
"during the paraguayan war, paraguay sent 3500 poorly armed children between 9 to 15 yo, wounded soldiers and old men to face brazilian army (20 thousand men), because most of paraguayan combatants were killed. the date of this battle is now children's day in Paraguay."
The Next Step Could Be Your Last
"Near Mt St Helens, in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, and before the volcano erupted in 1980, there were areas where you were not allowed off the footpaths. This was because Douglas Firs, which can reach 200ft, were buried in ash in prior eruptions, then rotted away. So you could step on a relatively thin layer of old ash, break through, and fall any number of feet into what amounted to a crevasse or a well."
The following examples depicted some of the most disturbing ways people have perished.
"A lot of sailors survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but were trapped in their sunken ships. There was no way to rescue them. People had to listen helplessly to the men banging on the inside of the hulls for days until they gradually went quiet."
"Humanity's Greatest Horrors"
"I went to the Killing Fields and was depressed beyond belief but also became intensely aware of the significance of being at the site of one of humanity's greatest horrors."
Ominously Beautiful Locale
"This reminds me very much of the suicide cliffs in Saipan. Wild story. Basically during World War Two, Saipan was occupied by the Japanese. When word got out that the United States army was coming to the island the Japanese soldiers began telling everyone that Americans will come eat them."
"The people of Saipan and Japanese living there started to throw themselves off these cliffs with their children and families. I forget the exact number but it was a massive amount of people."
"Here is a link"
"While I was working in Saipan it was a crazy place to be. There is a wall with a ton of names on it as a memorial to those who died. Incredibly beautiful scenery with just a horrible past."
"in the warsaw ghettos they would pile up body’s of people that might have not even been dead. someone who collapsed could have been tossed to the side and be covered with other bodies, slowly crushing them and suffocating them. until they did actually die."
The thread was full of some of the most frightening events in history that still haunts many people today.
These appalling and horrific events reinforce the significance of why we should learn from our past so as to never experience what previous generations have suffered.
If you or someone you know is struggling, you can contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
To find help outside the United States, the International Association for Suicide Prevention has resources available at https://www.iasp.info/resources/Crisis_Centres/
Fame is one of those things people tend to want until they have it - or that people shy away from entirely because they understand how sideways it tends to go.
But what about people who end up famous after their deaths? Or who managed to get more famous from the afterlife?
Reddit user GCanuck asked:
"Which historically famous person do you think would be most surprised to learn they are famous?"
If your mind immediately went to that Vincent Van Gogh scene from Dr. Who then 1. you're a nerd (me too!) and 2. you're not alone.
Here's what Reddit had to say.
The Little Painter FellowVan Gogh Reaction GIF by GIF IT UPGiphy
"Vincent van Gogh."
"His paintings made billions of dollars for rich people, but couldn't trade a painting for a meal during his lifetime. Had to be supported by his brother."
"It’s amazing how many pieces he created in such a short time considering how unsuccessful he was in selling them while alive. He kept banging them out despite his 'failure'.”
"He was encouraged to paint as part of his therapy/rehabilitation. He was a pretty disturbed guy, and not in a romantic way."
"Have you ever seen the Doctor Who episode about him?"
"This is what actually prompted this question for me."
"Most of the world has read your diary."
"Wait...All of my diary?"
"Her Father censored some of it because she talks about her body and other things, I can't really blame him for that. Modern prints are uncensored."
"She’d have been thrilled, but I don’t think surprised is the right word. She dreamed of being a published author. She knew that she was creating something valuable and important with her diary, and she wanted it to be published."
"I wonder what she'd think of her diary being turned into a stage play including a Broadway run and thousands of young girls doing their best to recreate all the different facets both good and bad of how she acted during her time in the Annex."
Herman The Whalebart simpson episode 3 GIFGiphy
"He had a few early successes with seafaring books, but Moby-Dick was a total flop that got bad reviews, and he spent the final decades of his life working in the customs department."
"He would be shocked to hear he wrote the Great American Novel."
"My boyfriend is from New Bedford, MA. Apparently the local high schools there had big murals depicting scenes from Moby Dick." "
*That* would have amazed Melville."
"Dude, that's the best part. You never know what's coming next. It's like:"
"45 pages of unintentionally hilarious interactions between Ishmael and Queequeg."
"30 pages of incredible, brooding drama written in stage play format for some reason."
"100 page essay about some minor technical details about whaling and how some village built their chieftain's hall out of a whale's ribcage."
"Another 20 pages of Ahab chewing the scenery and embodying mankind's self-destructive obsessions"
"Then Queequeg speaking his last words but then deciding he doesn't want to die yet and miraculously springing back to life."
"Like the ocean itself, you have to accept that Moby Dick moves at its own pace lol"
We, In Fact, Did Not Forget
"Hegelochus, an actor who mispronounced a word in a play in the year 408 BC and was mocked so thoroughly for it, his mistake has made it into the collective ledger of things historians know about and generally agree upon having happened… and we're still aware of it over 2,400 years later."
"Imagine making a meme today with a word misspelled, and others found that misspelling so egregiously mockable that you are still known for it in the year 4422."
" 'Oh come on get over it. No one will remember about that by tomorrow' -Hehelochus’ mom probably"
"He must have went to sleep running the moment in his head over and over again, but he probably tried to comfort himself by thinking, 'well, at least it's not like some space-age hyper-futuristic society is going to be discussing this thousands of years from now on their magic boxes powered by lightning in some language that doesn't even exist yet'."
"This is the worst nightmare of everyone that has been told to stop worrying because no one will pay as much attention to what you're doing as you."
"Counter point: Hegelochus."
"Kafka. Rarely published in his lifetime, and when he did it was in obscure magazines which nobody read."
"Explicitly asked that his works be destroyed after his death. It's only because his executor disregarded his wishes and published his unfinished works (which comprise the majority of his oeuvre) that he is famous today."
"Kafka is a good example of how much can anxiety ruin a person's life"
"Kafka wrote his stories to be shared with a group of friends like story-telling at a campfire"
"Blind Willie Johnson."
"He passed away blind, poor and sick, lying in the ruins of his house after it was burnt down."
"And his song 'Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground' left our solar system not too long ago aboard the Voyager to be listened to by life among the stars."
"I really like to think one day-thousands and thousands of years in the future, an alien race will find that golden disk and hear his voice."
"I think the fact he had such a poor life but could one day live eternally amongst the stars is so beautiful."
"Found out about him through a VSauce video."
"I listened to a couple songs and really liked them, he had a great voice and had a great talent for playing guitar despite being blind. Such a humbling and inspiring story he had"
"I remember learning about this in a Vsauce video and crying profusely afterwards, but not only from sadness, also from hope, and some other emotions I can’t possibly describe."
"The fact that he died at the lowest of lows, blind, sick, poor, and alone, yet he very well could be the man that teaches the stars about the very essence of humanity… there’s just something so intrinsically beautiful about that."
"Humanity, flawed as it is, is as intrinsically kind and beautiful as it is evil. The world forgets that sometimes."
Other Madonnamona lisa oh no you didnt GIFGiphy
"Lisa Gherardini, the Mona Lisa model."
"She was just some unremarkable random wife. Fast forward a few hundred years and she ended up as one of the most recognizable faces in history."
"HER NAMES NOT EVEN MONA LISA?!"
" 'Monna' was a shortening of the Italian word 'madonna', which was the equivalent of the English 'Madam'."
Honor Well Pass Death
"This is the dead body they used in Operation Mincemeat."
"The man basically consumed rat poison to commit suicide."
"His corpse was then used for a British secret operation to carry fake documents for the Nazis to find in order to make them think they were invading Greece and not Sicily."
"This man died in a alleyway and went on the become a dedicated Major in the British military buried with full military rites - under his fake name, but still him in physical form."
"He was originally buried under his covert identity (in Spain where his body washed ashore after being deposited in the sea nearby by a Royal Navy submarine), Major William Martin of the Royal Marines."
"In 2009 or thereabouts his real name (Glyndwr Michael) was added to his gravestone."
"I thought he died of tuberculosis so it’d be more convincing he was a British serviceman who drowned? Or maybe that was the guy used to make the Nazis think the Allies were invading Calais instead of Normandy."
"It was rat poison but it's not clear if it was a suicide."
"The poison was in the form of a paste that would be smeared on pieces of bread; rodents eat the bread, rodents die. Or in this case; poor Welshman eats the bread, poor Welshman dies."
"It's not clear whether he knew the paste was poison, or whether he was just hungry and thought he genuinely found some bread lying around."
"Where the confusion comes in is that the guy in charge of Mincemeat claimed the body was that of a young man who died of pneumonia, and that the parents had given permission for his body to be used as it was."
A Real Hero
"A literal hero of humanity who in some ways is still alive."
"Her family deserved so much better though."
"Can I get a short version? I don't think I've heard of her before"
"Her contribution to science is and continues to be gigantic"
Laws Of Inheritance
"Gregor Mendel, the monk and scientist who experimented with pea plant traits to describe what we today literally call Mendelian inheritance."
"The significance of Mendel's findings, which he published in 1866, went almost completely unrecognized during his life and after his death. His work was only rediscovered in the early 1900s when modern ideas about inheritance and selection started taking hold."
"I can differ there. When he first stated his theory, he was sure it was correct (as it was) but was rejected. I can imagine him not being surprised at the fact that his work was re recognised as right later down the line"
"It's entirely possible you're correct and Mendel suspected that someday he'd be proved right. At the same time, however, he spent decades after his discovery trying and failing to elicit interest from the academic public or individual biologists, and retired from science to become a monastery administrator, which looks a lot like 'giving up'."
Okay, so we learned some interesting history today. How about you?
Don't you love a good myth?
Let's put some of NSFW ones to the test.
RedditorWizzlyG33wanted to hear about what lies need to be exposed when it comes to sex, death and all things over the top in life. They asked:
"If MythBusters had a NSFW episode, what would you want to see on it?"
Oh JamieSeason 1 Love GIF by OutlanderGiphy
"A five second segment where Jamie points at a diagram and says, in complete deadpan, 'This is where the clitoris is.'"
"If they did such an episode, I could see this being in it for sure."
"I want them to purchase every pill they see on the internet that would make their penis bigger and see what happens."
"I think we can call that one BUSTED already. In what version of any world can you imagine there is a simple pill to make your junk more impressive and every dude you know doesn't already have a case of 10000 pills stashed under the bed?"
"Can you actually get an STD from a toilet seat?"
"This is an interesting thing actually. It was a myth deliberately perpetuated to make people less ashamed of asking for STD tests."
"Fun fact: There are multiple STDs that can be dormant (like inactive) for years. Like several years."
"You’d never know you had gotten it. Then something triggers it, maybe an infection or something, and then you start showing symptoms/Can now test positive. So technically a partner from years before could have given it to you and you either think your SO is cheating or haven’t been with anybody in a long time. Either way it’s scary when you think about it."
"Does a person really stay conscious for a few moments after beheading?"
"There was a French physician who tested this in the early 1900s. After a criminal was beheaded he picked up the head and shouted the criminal's name. The guy opened his eyes and made eye contact with the physician over a period of 30 seconds whenever his name was called. Edit: I provided the source in other comments but here it is on the original comment."
Theorieslooking down homer simpson GIFGiphy
"Size correlates to what? Feet? Nose? So many theories."
"I have size 12 feet and a massive nose and huge hands and the little guy is small."
Oh the lies and the rumors and the shade.
More is MoreSeth Meyers Dancing GIF by Late Night with Seth MeyersGiphy
"They did prove that women with larger breasts will get more tips. Which isn’t really not safe for work, because Kari literally was working at a coffee shop."
"If breast enlargements will help your job would you be able to write them off on your taxes?"
"How deep underwater are you still able to orgasm?"
"Pretty sure there's no lower limit. When you're underwater, your body is under pressure, but for the most part doesn't actually get compressed. Only your air spaces (lungs, sinuses, inner ears) are really subject to compression from ambient water pressure. There can be painful exceptions like air pockets inside a tooth filling, which I do not recommend experiencing."
"Most of your body is water or various solids, which push back on the ambient water pressure. You prostate shouldn't be blocked by water pressure any more than your bladder is. Source: am old scuba diver, I've done all kinds of things a hundred feet underwater. At that depth the ambient pressure is 4 bar, which in olden-tymes units is nearly 60 pounds per square inch. Also: fish do it underwater, doesn't seem to stop them."
"Does pineapple make your semen taste better?"
"Post orgasm clarity: How much better can you solve puzzles or remember something?"
"Well, recently I did a lot of reaction time tests on humanbenchmark.com and while normally I get average of around 140-145, after a good O I consistently got around 130-135, very often getting single clicks close to 120 which almost never happens in other cases. And it's weird because I feel more tired but apparently my reaction time improves for some reason."
Safety FirstSafety Helmet GIF by Just SecondsGiphy
"A take on the top ten OSHA violations list to see if they are as dangerous as they say."
"Safety regulations are written in blood."
Well that is a ton of great suggestions. Let's work on it.
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Many people value solitude, and having time to themselves.
For others though, loneliness can be a crippling feeling.
Having no one to talk to or spend time with can get wearying after an extended amount of time.
Something many people know more than ever after the global pandemic hit in spring of 2020.
But while some people simply succumb to being lonely, others will find ways to help them cope with, if not completely forget, being all alone.
Redditor No_Blackberry_6286 was curious to hear the different ways people have of coping with their loneliness, leading them to ask:
"Reddit, how do you cope with loneliness?"
Make the most with what makes you happy
"I've learned to enjoy my own company and focus on my hobbies."
"Funny enough, this gives me stuff to talk about when I am around people."
Voices in the background
"Listening to people talk on YouTube so I feel less alone in my house."
Millions of friends, just one click away.
"Chat with random people on Reddit."internet computer GIFGiphy
Still figuring it out
"I don't I'm f*cking miserable."- Savathunh
"I don't :("- __MashedPotatoes__·
Get my body movin'
"It makes me feel better about myself and I have something to do alone."- DerpBread69Gym Working Out GIF by Chance The RapperGiphy
Who says I need to?
"I love solitude."- Befuddled_GenXer
"I become one with loneliness."- thenewyorkofficesolitude GIFGiphy
Hit the snooze button
"Sleep 12+ hours a day."- RockandRoll682
Instant tension and relief
"Lots of arguing online about sh*t I don't care about at all, just to have some form of social interaction, and get off at least 3 times a day."-
There are very few worse feelings than that of being alone.
But it's also quite remarkable how much doing something that makes you happy, be it ever so simple, can elevate your feelings.