10 Odd Facts About World War II

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted May 23, 2009 4:35 PM CDT

(Newser) – With Memorial Day and the 65th anniversary of Normandy coming up, it's time for a World War II history review. The Chicago Tribune has dug up ten strange facts:

  • Elsie Mitchell and five children died in Gearhart Mountain, Ore., in May 1945, by touching a Japanese "balloon bomb" that had drifted into America. They are the only US mainland war deaths on record.

  • Before fighting in Sicily, Gen. George Patton told his men to kill enemies who kept fighting within 200 yards, even if they surrendered—regardless of international law.
  • The French held fashion queen Coco Chanel over her affair with a young Nazi official. "Really, sir, a woman of my age cannot be expected to look at his passport if she has a chance of a lover," said Chanel, in her 60s. They let her go.
  • Starving outside of Stalingrad, the German army received airlifted supplies including right shoes, 4 tons of spices, and millions of condoms.
  • Shot down in January 1943, American turret gunner Alan Magee ejected without a parachute and plunged 20,000 feet through a train station skylight. He lived and enjoyed backpacking until he died at age 84.
Click the link below for more World War II trivia.

Polish men are seen in front of a photograph at a recently opened exhibit of photographs taken by the Luftwaffe of Warsaw during World War II, in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, April 7, 2009.
Polish men are seen in front of a photograph at a recently opened exhibit of photographs taken by the Luftwaffe of Warsaw during World War II, in Warsaw, Poland, Tuesday, April 7, 2009.   (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
Photographs of World War II veteran Aleksander Szekal and his unit are displayed at his home in the village of Ivyanets, northwest of Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008.
Photographs of World War II veteran Aleksander Szekal and his unit are displayed at his home in the village of Ivyanets, northwest of Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2008.   (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)
In this May 2, 1945 file photo, Soviet soldiers hoist the red flag over the Reichstag in Berlin.
In this May 2, 1945 file photo, Soviet soldiers hoist the red flag over the Reichstag in Berlin.   (AP Photo/ ITAR-TASS, Yevgeny Khaldei,FILE)
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