This article was originally published on our site: storieswithpictures.com
Right now Ukraine is fighting against Russia to protect its people and territories against the horrifying invasion in the very middle of Europe. The whole world is watching the events unfold, appalled by how far the Russian President is willing to go to increase his power.
Still, the news of the valiant Ukrainian army doing their best to protect the land and all its citizens is bringing everyone’s spirits up. It’s definitely not the first time humanity has experienced war, which brings us back to WWI and WWII. Here are a few life-changing war stories from that era that will make you feel better about humanity.
Judy, the Prisoner of War
It’s common to hear POW stories about humans, but rarely do we get to hear about animals becoming prisoners of war and surviving to tell the tale, so to speak. Judy was one of such outstanding animals!
During the WWII, Judy has survived numerous combats being part of the British Navy and has even spent a considerable amount of years in the internment camps. It is there, stranded on North Sumatra along with other soldiers from the Allied Troops, was when she earned her POW status.
Judy helped the prisoners by hunting for some extra food and even protecting them when the guards were being too cruel to the people. Frank Williams befriended the heroic pointer and helped register her as a POW. She came back to Britain and was given an animal’s version of Victoria’s Cross!
Japanese Pilot Forgiven by American Citizens
It’s rarely we hear stories of pilots who have attacked towns and cities being forgiven by the local people, but that’s exactly what happened in Brookings, Oregon. Nobuo Fujita was invited to the town for a friendly visit after he bombed the place two decades prior.
Still bearing the guilt in his heart, Nobuo Fujita arrived with his 400-year-old family sword on him, having the intention to end his life as per Japanese samurai tradition if it was asked of him. But there was nothing like that!
Local townspeople welcomed him and his family with open arms – it was a beautiful moment of friendship that got into all U.S. and Japanese newspapers. Nobuo Fujita gifted his family sword to the people of Brookings and it’s been on display ever since.
Floating Ice Cream
If you’ve ever been to South Pacific then you can imagine just how hot it can get. The U.S. Navy sailors were facing a major drop in morale due to extreme climate and ongoing battles with the Japanese. That’s when Secretary of the Navy had a truly genius idea and suggested to get those sailors… some ice cream!
Yes, you read that right! Tons of free ice cream were distributed to the sailors and it was such a huge success that one barge of ice cream turned into a whole fleet of ships carrying the cold sweet goodness all over the Pacific.
You can’t say no to an ice cream on a scalding hot day, especially when you’re stranded on a ship amidst the ocean. The U. S. government spent $1 million to make this vision come to life and we believe it was worth every penny!
Japan’s Top Flying Ace Had a Heart After All
Saburo Sakai is one of the most famous WWII pilots not only in Japan, but all across the globe. Although he was an ‘enemy’ at that time, his flying prowess earned him respect throughout history. He’s known for taking down up to 60 airplanes, although his own aircraft was extremely outdated.
You wouldn’t expect a war pilot like this to ignore orders, but that’s exactly what happened in 1942, when he was flying over Java in search of enemy aircrafts. There he saw a civilian plane and, as he flew closer, he spotted it was filled to the brim with people – women, kids, and wounded soldiers.
Despite the orders given, Saburo Sakai felt that he couldn’t damage this plane as he believed they should fight soldiers not civilians. He spared that plane and the Dutch nurse who was flying there on that day found him decades later to thank him for showing mercy.
Seven Babies Survived the Concentration Camps
The horrors of the concentration camps like Dachau are all well known and documented, that’s why it is so surprising to hear that something good actually happened there – against all odds!
Not one, but seven pregnant women, all from Hungary, were gathered at the Kaufering sub-camps of Dachau where they miraculously gave birth to seven healthy babies. It happened just one month before the Americans arrived at Dachau, so the lives of mothers and their babies were spared.
As women recall, they survived because they got extra help from everyone – a man serving in the kitchen was stealing some snacks to keep them alive, while all the women were nursing their babies when the mothers had to go work.
The Feline War Hero
If you think that cats aren’t suited for ship duty just because they aren’t good with water, well, think twice. Here’s a hint – where there’s a large number of people, there are food supplies, and with them sometimes come rats.
In 1949, a British Royal Navy frigate was caught in the crossfire during the Chinese civil war and was nearly destroyed. The ship was stranded ashore with whatever food supplies left for the surviving men and no way to leave the place. That’s when the rats came!
Good thing there was Simon – the crew’s beloved cat who has been travelling with the frigate for years! Although wounded after the attack, the cat regained its health and started saving the ship’s food supplies by destroying the rat infestation. The kitty even got a Medal of Honor after everyone returned home!
How Landmines Helped the Penguins
It’s very rarely that we here something good came out of the war, but this is definitely the case with the penguin population that got to have their very own little paradise on the Falkland Islands.
Britain and Argentina have been fighting over these minute islands for decades, although there is seemingly nothing of great value at the Falkland Islands apart from a few thousand people, some fishing spots, and more sheep than you can count.
Still, the war happened, and while the islands were occupied by Argentinians, they put landmines along various coasts to prevent the British military from taking over. Argentina had to back off eventually, but the landmines stayed, becoming a perfect natural habitat for penguins who went away from the islands due to human activity. Now it’s like a penguin resort no one will dare to trespass!
The Ghost Army
Not many people know that during the WWII there was a special secret military unit operating under the nickname ‘Ghost Army’. It consisted of more than 1,000 soldiers who were on a very peculiar mission – to fool the enemy.
They were kept a secret during the time of war and the information about them didn’t emerge until recently. Those troops used all kinds of trickery including loud sounds, soldier dummies, and inflated tanks to mimic the arrival of numerous units into town.
The Ghost Army used professional Morse code messengers to create long fake conversations that were intercepted by the Germans, creating the impression the army was in a different place. All in all, these special troops used their trickery for over 20 times during WWII, saving thousands of lives with their efforts.
Bombing Germany with… Foods
Both the WWI and WWII were horrible times all across the globe, but what came next was not much more cheerful. In 1948, the Soviet Union imposed a Berlin Blockade, blocking all access of Western forces to West Berlin.
In order to support the citizens of Berlin, British and American air forces organized what was dubbed the Berlin Airlift – an operation to transport supplies to the city by air. Hundreds of aircrafts were flying over Berlin on a daily basis, carrying fuel, foods, and other necessary supplies to stranded people.
The U.S. Air Force alone made more than 270,000 flights to the city, delivering a whopping number of 2,334,374 tons of goods in the course of the blockade. The high command in the USSR thought the airlift would never work, but it did! The blockade was lifted in spring of 1949.
Charlie Brown, an American pilot, didn’t think he’d live to see another day when in 1943 his B-17 bomber was badly hit after his attempt to destroy a German aircraft production company. More than a dozen anti-craft guns aimed at him and his crew and he barely made it out of there alive.
With his crew badly wounded and his plane nearly destroyed, Charlie Brown was mortified to see a German fighter plane fly up to him. Nevertheless, the pilot Franz Stigler didn’t attack the defenseless vessel – instead, he accompanied the American bomber to the English Channel, saluted the pilot, and flew away.
Charlie Brown safely entered England and after the war ended he put up an ad to find the German pilot who spared his life. Shortly, he and Franz Stigler reunited and the latter explained that to shoot them down when they were defenseless would have been dishonorable. The two war veterans became best friends after that.
The Canine Siren
It was the year 1942 and Australia, although being so far away from the main action, was dragged into the WWII by the Japanese military. When they started bombing the city of Darwin, there was a dog in there that belonged to Westcott, the Leading Aircraftman.
Traumatized by the bombing, the little fella named Gunner recovered soon enough, but developed an uncanny ability to sense the coming of Japanese planes long before the tech could sense any of them. The dog started barking for no apparent reason, becoming Westcott’s personal canine raid siren.
Westcott informed his superiors about his dog’s new abilities and after they were tested on more than one occasion, he was given a small air raid siren that he would turn on every time his dog was signaling about the upcoming attack.
The Red Cross
In 1944, the American paratroopers were dispatched to a small village of Angoville-au-Plain, Normandy, to capture the place and all of its inhabitants. Two American medics immediately found a spot and set up a local medical station with them working night and day to treat the wounded.
When the German forces arrived, taking back the town, Kenneth Moore and Robert Wright didn’t move an inch, continuing treating all their patients. The German soldiers wanted to throw them out, but then they realized that the two men were treating their soldiers as well!
The German forces put a Red Cross sign on their medical facility set up in a small church and let them be. The fight was raging for several days, but the two medics remained in one place, saving up to 80 people all in all. Now you can see their actions commemorated in the stained glass of that very church in Angoville-au-Plain.
The Iwo Jima Angels
Not many people who aren’t keen on history have heard the name of Jane Kendeigh, but she was among the first flight nurses to ever take part in a Pacific warfare, attending to patients on high altitudes while they were transported from the battlefield.
She and her crew of nurses helped evacuate around 2,400 sailors from the horrifying battle at Iwo Jima, making sure they would last all the way to the hospitals that would give them proper treatment.
Amazingly, out of approximately 1, 170,000 patients that were transported from the battlefield during those harsh times, only 46 passed away never reaching the destination. Those nurses were like angels to all the people they treated!
The Prisoner of War With a Big Heart
When thinking of war it’s hard to imagine just how much pain all the people endured during those times. During the WWII, Eric Lomax was among the British soldiers who got captured by the Japanese military in Singapore, 1942.
They were later sent as POWs to work on building the infamous Burma-Siam Railway and those were the hardest days of his life – mostly due to all the tortures he and his fellow comrades endured back than. Eric Lomax remembered one Takashi Nagase especially well as his death threats were haunting him for decades after the war ended.
It turns out, Lomax wasn’t the only one haunted by what happened – Nagase himself was carrying so much guilt that he even had a newspaper article written about him. Lomax stumbled upon that article and after decades of painful memories, the two men met, exchanged greetings, and the former British soldier found it in his heart to forgive his tormentor once and for all.
The Most Peaceful Christmas in the World
Can you imagine soldiers from opposing armies meeting together for a heart-warming Christmas dinner and having a good time? We couldn’t either, but that’s exactly what happened during the WWII at the Battle of the Bulge.
Mrs. Vincken was living with her small son in a cabin deep in the forest, when on a Christmas Eve she heard a knock on the door and was startled to see a group of American soldiers, one of whom was wounded, at her doorstep. Despite them being enemies, she let the party in, but, as soon as the men settled down, she heard another knock on the door.
This time, those were the German soldiers! To prevent the bloodshed, she kindly asked them to leave all their weapons outside because she had guests that they might not like and she wanted at least for Christmas to be peaceful. Her kind attitude and persuasiveness resulted in the whole group having a warm dinner together at her home on Christmas Eve! Two groups parted the next day and the Germans even showed the other soldiers the way to the American camps.
The Fearless WAFS
The United States Air Force isn’t necessarily associated with female pilots, but there were quite a few of them that were active during the WWII. One of the most famous names in female flight history is that of Nancy Harkness Love who became the head of the WAFS (Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron).
She fell in love with flying at an early age and worked as a commercial pilot alongside her husband before the war started. Love trained a group of dedicated women and together they were transporting supplies from various factories during the whole war, freeing more male pilots to take part in the action at the front.
She was recognized as a war hero and got the Air Medal for her achievements and acts of selfless servitude.
The Vermeer Art Forger
Art has always been a big deal and things didn’t change a bit even during the WWII. In fact, the German military elite was keen on getting their hands on as many original paintings as they could.
Han Van Meegeren was a painter and an art dealer, arrested for selling off priceless Vermeer painting to none other than Herman Goering himself. He was facing a death sentence!
But that’s when the man opened up about what he was really doing – being a profound painter himself he was actually forging Vermeer paintings and selling them off to whomever paid more. In total, he earned around $60 million selling his fake art! After learning the truth, the art dealer got a much lighter charge that sentenced him to a year in jail.
Pets Come First
It’s not a secret George Washington’s biggest enemy during the Revolutionary War was William Howe, a talented British general who kept on making the future President of the U.S. retreat further and further.
After losing the battle under Germantown in 1777, which cost George Washington around 500 people, something unexpected happened – an unfamiliar dog wandered into the American camp! According to the collar, it was none other than William Howe’s personal pet.
But what did George Washington do? He kindly returned the pet after a few days with a polite note attached to its collar stating that he’s returning the dog with great pleasure. The forces even ceased fire for this to happen! George Washington was a great dog lover himself, that’s why he took such great care of the enemy’s pet.
Just Nuisance Serving at the British Navy
We sometimes hear stories about animals serving in the army and they never cease to amaze us. Not only are they useful, but they often offer moral and psychological support all men need during those harsh times.
Great Dane that went under the nickname Just Nuisance due to the dog’s huge size and the love of sleeping in the most uncomfortable places, was the beloved pet of British Navy sailors who were stationed in South Africa.
The huge dog followed them everywhere, taking part in various actions, but wasn’t allowed on the trains most of the time despite the sailor’s best efforts. That’s when the commanding officers came up with the idea to enlist the dog! That’s how Nuisance became part of the Royal Navy, got a separate bed to sleep on and an endless number of free train rides.
The Brave Surgeon
Back in 1914, at the beginning of WWI, Elsie Maud Inglis wanted to help as much as she could. Being a professional surgeon, a doctor, and a suffragist, she tried to get enlisted to the Royal Army Medical Corps, but was only laughed at and was shrugged off.
But the woman didn’t despair and went on creating her very own organization – The Scottish Women’s Hospitals, which is most famous for treating Russian and Serbian soldiers during the WWI.
Notably, she received the Order of the White Eagle, which has never been given to women before. She was the first ever lady to be given this honor in Serbia! After the Revolution in Russia in 1917, she had to come back to England, where she passed away due to cancer complications.