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.
Being an emergency responder is a high-stress job.
It's a career with long, laborious hours.
There is always a hint of danger. And death is always around the corner.
So we as a society could try to help these people out and not put ourselves in unnecessary danger.
Redditor Diligent-Log6805wanted the rescue workers out there to tell us about the times they rescued people. They asked:
"Emergency responders of reddit, what are some dumb things that have lead to an emergency situation?"
These workers and the world already has enough trouble without my stupid.
"So... was she impressed?"Idiot Reaction GIFGiphy
"Kid driving his new truck down a residential street, wet from a recent rain, lost control and hit a parked car, overcorrected and rolled it once back onto its wheels up onto a lawn. He told the fire chief he had gunned it to impress his girlfriend and the chief just looked at him and asked 'So... was she impressed?'"
"I had a client once who was basically Ricky from Trailer Park Boys, loud, obnoxious, hilarious and every second word was some Maritime slang or a derivative of 'f**k.' He has been on daily eye drops for decades for dry eyes, sure ok cool. I hear screaming down the hall and run in and he's wedged against the wall and the bed just screaming 'I f**ked up boys, I dunno what the f**k is f**king happening but It's f**ked."
"Turns out he mistakenly put Jublia which is an antifungal ointment for toenails in his eye thinking it was his eye drops. The strangest part was the bottle has this miniature sponge at the end so you soak the sponge then paint it on like a gel...he painted this antifungal ointment onto his eye which immediately went red and angry then proceeded to do the other one."
"So he's at the eyewash station and I'm talking to poison control and they are pretty stunned because they have zero data on what happens to a human eyeball when it's painted in antifungal. I can hear the staff at the other end kind of snickering under her breath and she asks can you compare and contrast the eyes? Well... he put it in both eyes. The line goes silent because I can tell she is howling. Guy was totally fine but it was a standout for sure."
Will they show?
"Responded to a call of two minors being kidnapped and their parents being beaten in front of them and then taken someplace else. One was around three years and the other one was six. They were held captive in an apartment out of hundreds of residential apartments which not easy to locate, upon reaching there we found out that the boy six was just playin' with us to see if we would actually respond. Their parents were so embarrassed by all of that and vowed to not give them mobile until they are adults."
"When I was an EMT in NYC years ago we had a call for a man 'unresponsive.' We entered an upscale apartment that was a hoard: floor to ceiling newspapers and magazines, just a mess. The woman who called said her brother was in his bedroom sick."
"We entered his room and it was pretty obvious that he had already passed away. She had placed a bowl under his mouth because he had hemorrhaged which had coagulated the day before it was crazy. We asked her why she hadn’t called sooner and she said thought he’d get better?!"
"The joke around the house was 'if you have to put a bowl under a relative who is bleeding from the mouth, call 911. Don’t wait.' Never thought we’d have to advise anyone to do that. But there ya go. Also, it was Thanksgiving. Didn’t eat any cranberry sauce that year."
God Only KnowsMarried At First Sight Lol GIF by LifetimeGiphy
"Had a guy call because he had the cure to Covid and needed a ride to the local education hospital so he could share it. Dude was so high on meth He ended up having 4 or 5 binders worth of scientific looking notes. God only knows what was actually in them."
Wow, people really need to get a grip. Of their minds.
"Sparky"on fire GIFGiphy
"One of my old bosses once built a new shed in his back yard, to replace his old, worn-out one. He moved everything from the old one to the new one, then decided that the best way to remove the old one was by burning it down. He ended up with no sheds and the nickname 'Sparky.'"
Dead in the living room...
"Paramedic here. We responded to this 54 year old having chest pain. Man was having a heart attack. Dude didn't want to go to the hospital because it too early in the day. That's it. We tried to convince him to go. Got the ER doc to talk to him and he wouldn't budge. He signed a Refusal. Later that same night, his family found him. Dead in the living room. We got to him and started CPR, meds, everything. Dude didn't make it. When we advise you to go to the hospital, go."
"Got called to a shooting. A guy says he received a text message from an anonymous number saying his brother has been shot. He checks all the hospitals with no luck. He goes to his brother's apartment but gets no response at his door but sees his car and can hear the TV on. We get there, attempt to get an answer at the door."
"Eventually we kick the door in to make sure he wasn't dying in his apartment. We boot the door, announce police, and find him asleep in his bed. The guy tells us that he got a new phone number and decided to mess with his brother by texting him he had been shot. He then fell asleep and forgot about the text and was woken up by us. So many wasted resources on his idiotic prank."
"Got called to a priority job. The caller was kayaking in a lake and said that there was an unresponsive male in the water. So off we went, lights and sirens. We requested paramedics and fire to attend as well for the rescue operation. There were about 6 emergency vehicles attending including a rescue boat. We got there within minutes and met the caller who showed us where the guy was."
"He was just swimming, minding his own business. The caller said he was unresponsive, but really he was just ignoring her. Had a chat with the guy, he seemed alright, said he swims here every day and likes the quiet. No issues. Would have been nice if the caller told the operator that he was still conscious and swimming rather than 'unresponsive.'"
Chew SlowlySnl GIF by Saturday Night LiveGiphy
"Well, I was taking a lady home from dialysis and she decided to eat a snickers in the back of the ambulance, and she started choking. Had to do the heimlich, and tell her to finish her food at home."
If it's not a true emergency dial 311. Please.
I hated science classes.
As soon as I could I ran.
But it follows me.
Because science can be downright disturbing.
That's why I blocked out so many of the details.
Redditor Flimsy_Finger4291wanted to compare notes on all the frightening facts that are a definitive. They asked:
"What's the scariest thing that science has proven real?"
As if knowledge isn't scary enough, let's her more...
Hello Terrypaint surgery GIF by gifnewsGiphy
"Some tumors have teeth, hair and even eyes."
"My sister had one minus the eyes! It was cantaloupe sized on one of her ovaries before it was found. She named it Terry the Teratoma."
"My best friend and bunk mate from summer camp died from one of those when I was in 7th grade. Happened so quickly, we were a week into camp and he got really sick. They gave us all heavy meningitis shots because they didn’t know what it was and within a few days he was dead. Turned out to be a brain eating amoeba."
"Edit: strangely enough on the same day he started getting sick one of the lifeguards that was sitting out in a boat waiting for the next group of kids for what we called Trojans Vs. Spartans day had a seizure, fell off the boat and drowned. Only deaths they’d ever had in the 50+ years the camp had been open."
Far Far Away
"The size of our galaxy, how many other galaxies there are and how far away they are. When you can actually see something that incomprehensible.."
"The nearest star to us would take the Voyager 70,000 years to reach. The nearest galaxy to ours would take the Voyager 749,000,000 years. If we some how managed to take on the monstrous task of speed of light travel it would still take 25,000 years to reach the nearest galaxy. And it's even further apart after you read this. Wild stuff!"
"How the brain is literally rewired and chemically altered by childhood neglect and abuse."
"It's genuinely kinda freaky, playing a puzzle game, and noticing how quickly you're getting better at it. The kind of puzzles that were a real blocker in the beginning become baby-easy after like an hour of playing puzzles like it."
"My sister faced horrible abuse at the hands of our father, and she has been working through it with multiple therapists over the last 10 years and she is only now starting to get her life back. I feel like she was robbed at a fair chance at life because of our a**hole father."
AwakeBill Murray Im Here GIF by Groundhog DayGiphy
"Prions, horrific and totally unpredictable."
"Fatal familial insomnia is a prions disease where you can't sleep anymore, you just stay awake until your brain deteriorates and you die."
Now I can never UNKNOW about prions. Perfect.
Days gone by...Aging Matt Damon GIFGiphy
"Ageing. I'm content with death but the idea of my body growing old, frail and eventually falling apart before the end game gives me goosebumps."
"Gamma ray bursts. No warning, no escape, no defense, no survivors."
"If you're talking about supernovas if the star isn't too close the gamma burst would probably only destroy some part of our ozone layer. And gamma radiation is actually the least lethal out of all types of waves."
"Entropy. Time shall consume all things. Inevitable heat death of the universe."
"I personally want the 'Big Crunch' to be true. That instead of fizzling out it all gets sucked back into an infinitely small/dense particle and then another Big Bang happens. It’s my explanation for the multiverse. It’s all one timeline. Just infinitely long."
"More like a theory, the 'orangutan paradox,' when we film a documentary on orangutans, they can’t realize that we are observing them, yet they are the most intelligent species of their category, so aliens might be watching us and we are as oblivious as an orangutan."
Fade 2 SilentListen Scooby Doo GIF by MashedGiphy
"That hearing is the last sense to leave, when dying."
Well that is the antithesis of comfort. Life is so fun.
Ever since Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope opened on May 25, 1977, a devoted fanbase developed.
And that fanbase has opinions.
Lots and lots of opinions.
Redditor Ebo8000 wanted to know:
"What is your most controversial take on Star Wars?"
"LASERS LOCK DOORS. LASERS OPEN DOORS. LASERS KNOW WHAT YOU WANT THE DOOR TO DO."
"But if you get past the door and close it behind you and you don’t want anyone to follow you through it…"
"…you shoot the bloody door panel!"
"Also, f*cking hell, we're in the future (or in the past), whatever, and people have better technology."
"Why put the door control RIGHT NEXT to the door? Put the door control system in a breaker box."
"Build every door so in case of malfunction they all shut closed (after all, they're in space and you don't want to lose air in decompression, do you?)"
"Shoot the breaker box, now the whole floor is closed until someone can figure out what happened."
"Almost look like those doors just exist as dramatic elements..."
"I’d like a film about when the Republic was at its height. 1,000 generations is 25,000 years and we’ve had 9 movies about the last 60."
"Not sure if controversial but they need to take the franchise and yeet it 200 years in the future."
"I'm tired of the Empire era where they need to justify why more than 2 Jedi and 2 Sith exist at one moment alongside knowing everything is pointless until Luke leaves the farm."
Design Fail? No!
"The Death Stars weren't badly designed they were just badly managed."
"Yes, designing them assuming large scale assaults was stupid given the political state of the galaxy but the second Death Star wasn't even finished so that doesn't count, it's all Palpatine's fault. As for the first one that was finished, the Alliance made three runs on the exhaust port."
"The first was called off before they made it to the trench, the second failed and the third was carried out by space Jesus which isn't exactly fair."
"All in all it sounds like a fairly effective defence when you consider the design philosophy."
"The entire universe has a cool factor that outweighs the atrocious storytelling."
"Bro imagine the following movies, but if they were in Star Wars universe."
"Magnificent 7 - A Jedi, Bounty Hunter, Ex-Imperial, Pilot, Wookie, a Droid, and Lawman team up to defend a town against pirates"
"Dredd - Two Jedi climb up an apartment block to confront a new dark side user who has mental control of the entire apartment block"
"Supernatural (T.V. Show) - A Jedi and their apprentice go around and solve and defeat Dark Side Force spots—where the Force consolidates from emotions and creates foul creatures to fight"
"Top Gun - But it's you know, Wedge or something"
"Ford versus Ferrari - But it's podracing or swoop racing"
"Something about the ships in the original series always felt more like real ships than in any of the later movies, despite the objectively better effects of the later films."
"Some of this is probably the use of models (i.e. actual three dimensional objects), but I think there is some critical difference in the design that makes them feel more real (probably because they were designed to be things that would actually work as models)."
"Whatever it is, I LOVED the ships in the original series and never really liked any of the new ones."
"The original trilogy changed the world by showing a universe in space that was dirty and lived in. The special effects from the later movies did not recognize this."
"Boba Fett is an oddly overrated background character, and even after watching The Book of Boba Fett, I don’t really care about him."
"He was never a character. He was a cool helmet."
"He was a cool jetpack too."
Time for the weather...
"Han is actually older than Obi-Wan due to Time Dilation."
"Time dilation in a universe where every planet and moon has the same gravity and atmosphere?"
"And just 1 biome."
"That way they only need one Weather Channel per planet."
"And over to Klaatu for the Tatooine weather report. Klaatu?"
"It's still sunny."
These are the droids we're looking for.
"Star Wars is actually the life story of C-3PO—think about it."
"I disagree. I think its R2-D2's story. He had a much greater presence in Episode 1, 2 and 3, and got the same amount of screen time as C-3PO in 4, 5 and 6."
Fan is short for fanatic.
"Fans ruined the whole franchise."
So, did your controversial Star Wars opinion make the list?
Death is a subject many people shy away from because what they don't know beyond our realm of existence can be intimidating.
Hollywood hasn't helped, as movies and TV have typically portrayed death as something sinister and violent.
How could anyone be convinced death is a peaceful transition, and that what awaits on the other side is actually an unimaginable utopia?
Curious to hear strangers' thoughts about death, Redditor GoodNess2020 invoked a quote by an iconic literary figure and asked:
"Mark Twain once said, 'I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.' Why do you agree/disagree with his statement?"
People clarified what actually terrified them most about death
"I don't fear being dead. I fear dying."
"Yeah, that's usually the issue. It's why that quote doesn't mean much, to a lot of people."
"It's not a fear of eventually dying and not existing anymore. It's the act of dying itself. He didn't constantly die for all of time. He just wasn't alive."
Concept Of Loss
"To have not existed for billions of years is to have spent billions of years never knowing loss. To die is to know loss."
"If you look into a new bank account and see zero dollars, it’s nothing. If you look into a bank account that once had a million dollars and see there’s nothing in there, you’ll know it’s absence."
People provided an analogy to articulate what ceasing to exist must feel like.
It's About Time
"Time is only relevant to you when you are alive. He is right. Have you ever been sedated for surgery? You go under, and then instantly wake up and procedure is done.... or you died so no worries."
Consciousness Is Life
"You won’t be feeling anything in death though is the thing. That infinite/instant sensation was a living feeling, you just weren’t conscious for it - your body experienced it anyways. No body, no experience."
Like Being Under
"That is very true, but for me, that's the closest amalgamation of what it probably feels like."
"No one can tell you what actual death will be like. It's impossible for you to experience nothingness."
"Thinking about death can be paralysing sometimes, and when I remember that the closest thing i can link as an experience I had, being put under, was actually sort of pleasant. I then think maybe death will be like that, and honestly it doesn't seem that bad."
When In Deep Sleep
"Yeah in contrast to sleep where you can actually feel like time has passed when you wake up."
Think Line Between Death And Slumber
"As CGPGrey puts it, your bed might very well be a suicide machine."
"Given our lack of understanding for the fundamental processes of our sentience, it's entirely possible that when you fall asleep, your mind is functionally killed, disassembled, analyzed, sorted, tweaked, and adjusted by your biology, before being reassembled when you wake. Every night."
People opened up about their insecurities around the concept of death.
Fear Of What Comes Next
"I’m just paranoid that something does happen after death and it’s just based on one thing that you didn’t know about."
The Circle Of Death
"There’s nothing to fear in oblivion. Unless, of course, your consciousness survives death. If so, it would be reasonable to fear the sensation of consciousness without senses, suspended alone in the cosmos, with no one to hear you, and no way to make yourself known. No reference point for counting time – a count that does not matter anyway in a literal eternity."
"You might wish that you still had a corporeal form, only so that you could make your mouth move to express your terror, to make the universal form of a terrified scream – the form of a letter O."
"But you won’t be able to. You just won’t!"
"This has been the Children’s Fun Fact Science Corner. Brought to you by shame, loneliness, and the letter..."
When Faith Fails You
"what do you mean I'm going to hell?! I was a good person and attended church regularly!"
"Ah yes, but you failed to put a blue feather in your hat and then turn in circles the times praising God Almighty on the fifth Sunday after your twelfth birthday. To the pit with you!!!"
There is an poignant episode from the Twilight Zone that brought me a sense of peace surrounding the concept of death.
Death was embodied by a handsome police officer who had been shot–played by a young Robert Redford–and begs to be let into the home of an elderly woman who had been living in perpetual fear of meeting "Mr. Death."
As the episode continues, she discovers much to her dismay that she welcomed Death into her home, but he warmly reassures her there is nothing to fear.
The episode ends with her finally offering her hand to Death after much protest, and they peacefully walk out together, arm in arm, into the light.
It was sweet and beautifully done. The 1962 episode was titled, "Nothing in the Dark."
That's how I imagine it to be.
A dashing Prince of Darkness telling me it's time to join him in guiding me to the other side.