10 Odd Facts About World War II

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2009 4:35 PM CDT
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)
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(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.
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