Unsung heroes of WWII

Foxbat

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I’m not really sure if the Edelweiss Pirates qualify for this thread but here they are.

They were an anti-nazi and anarchic organisation of youths who used to enjoy ambushing Hitler Youth patrols and beating them up. During the war, they supported the allies and helped German army deserters evade capture.

Up until this point in their story, they seem to qualify as unsung heroes but after the war, they became more anarchic, attacking and beating up displaced people (Poles, Soviets etc). There are conflicting views on whether they actually were a form of organised resistance during WW2 but some of them were awarded the order of merit of the Federal Republic of Germany many years later.

I think the jury is still out on this one.

 

Toby Frost

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I read Quartered Safe Out Here and liked it a lot more than Flashman. It's a humane and surprisingly funny book. I'd also recommend Master of War by Robert Lyman and Road of Bones by Fergal Keane. Defeat Into Victory by General Slim is a bit heavy but the last chapter is very interesting, especially for anyone writing fiction about war.
 

Montero

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I read Quartered Safe Out Here and liked it a lot more than Flashman. It's a humane and surprisingly funny book.
After Tom Brown's Schooldays I never much fancied Flashman, gave it a brief go and gave up. However I adore the three "MacAuslan" books by Fraser - it is an account of the rest of his army days in the aftermath of WW2 as a junior officer in a Highland Regiment. In the same style as Quartered Safe, possibly a bit funnier. Starts with "The General Danced at Dawn".
Thanks for the recommendations.
 

Foxbat

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And talking of cats, let's move on to dogs.
Specifically, Russian anti-tank dogs. These poor animals were trained to run under an enemy tank and blow up by way of a lever that activated the bomb when it touched the underside of the tank.

Unfortunately, there were some teething problems;)
To get the dogs used to the sound and smells of war, the Russians trained them by feeding them under their own tanks with their engines running. This led to some dogs running back to Russian tanks. It's not known if any Soviet tanks were blown up by this.

Not exactly unsung heroes but you've got to feel for them.
 

KiraAnn

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And talking of cats, let's move on to dogs.
Specifically, Russian anti-tank dogs. These poor animals were trained to run under an enemy tank and blow up by way of a lever that activated the bomb when it touched the underside of the tank.

Unfortunately, there were some teething problems;)
To get the dogs used to the sound and smells of war, the Russians trained them by feeding them under their own tanks with their engines running. This led to some dogs running back to Russian tanks. It's not known if any Soviet tanks were blown up by this.

Not exactly unsung heroes but you've got to feel for them.
I learned about those poor dogs a couple of years ago. IIRC, the Soviets did lose a couple of tanks and crews.
 

hitmouse

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The whole WW2 Burma front is often forgotten these days, but it was the scene of extremely fierce fighting, particularly at Kohima, where the British forces (including many Indian and Commonwealth troops) ultimately stopped and destroyed the Japanese army. Had the Japanese captured India, it would have been an absolute bloodbath.

One story that I'm surprised isn't better-known is that of Ursula Graham-Bower, an anthropologist who studied the jungle tribes of Burma prior to World War 2. When the Japanese invaded, she used her connections to obtain weapons for the locals, and helped train them into a very successful guerrilla force, which she often led into battle herself. Nobody has made a film about her, but the Americans produced a comic book based on her exploits - which, if they weren't true, would sound like the stuff of pulp fiction.

When I was a bit younger I was introduced the grandfather of a friend, in Bombay. An affable old fellow, he talked about when he had been hit by Japanese light machine gun fire during the Sittang River campaign in Burma whilst serving in one of the Frontier Force regiments. He survived evacuation and major surgery, and went on to become very senior and quite celebrated in the Indian Army after independence.
What I did not know until I read a biography was that after he had been hit, his orderly had carried him 14 miles to the field hospital. Talk about unsung heroes.
 

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