The Unsung Heroes of WWII

There are countless stories of heroes in World War II that have not made it to the mainstream media despite worth it telling them is. Here are some of the amazing stories that you may not have already known about in World War II.

The Night Witches

The lesser known 588th Night Bomber Regiment of the Soviet Union was composed solely of women, its role, executing bombing missions behind enemy lines. The Night bomber regiment was equipped with 1920s style planes built from wood or canvas and were quite limited technologically. The planes did not boast a radio system, and the bombs they carried for operations were attached to the wings via wire. This lack of technology and highly specific construction was useful for stealth operations, giving the regiment the capacity to fly below the radar and launch surprise barrages on their enemies in the quiet hours of the night.

Members of this regiment would fly between 15 and 18 missions per night each. At the end of the night the planes would return to their bases riddled with bullet holes. These operations were so successful that they would be known to Soviet forces as Stalin’s Falcons, and even more chillingly to the Germans as the Night Witches, showing the amount of fear they were able to instill in their adversaries.

The “Night Witches,” an all female Night Bomber Regiment of the Soviet Air Forces that bombed German lines in WWII. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Ghost Army

The 23rd HQ Special Troop unit of the United States military became quickly known by their nickname The Ghost Army. The specialty of this unit was using deception to the point of charade and misinformation in order to dupe enemy forces throughout the battlefield. This unit was composed of artists, sound people, illustrators and radio personalities who were specifically chosen and taken from art schools on the East Coast of America. This unit of approximately 1,100 people would often pretend to be an extremely large force by employing 250-kilogram speakers that could be heard 25 km away, scaring enemy forces causing them to scramble. The radio experts would send false transmissions to distract the Germans while the real missions were underway and even made use of blow-up artillery equipment and tanks so dupe observation planes, sometimes even decorating them so that they could pretend to bee other units and confuse German mapping.

The activities of this unit were highly classified, and the majority of the American Military were unaware of the existence of the unit 1985 when one of it’s members wrote about it

Soldiers in the United States Army’s 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, also known as the ‘Ghost Army’ stage a fake military operation with a life-size inflatable tank as part of an elaborate mission to deceive German reconnaissance planes and draw them away from the actual Allied troops (Image: Rare Historical Photos)

Vera Atkins the Interrogator

Vera Atkins was a notoriously effective officer of British Intelligence. Originally born in Romania, Atkins’ experiences would lead her to being recruited by British intelligence to undergo fact finding missions throughout Europe to gather intelligence for Sir Winston Churchill on the rising threat of Nazism and Hitler. By the time of World War II, she had risen through the ranks and at the height of the war had placed 400 agents, most of which were women, on field assignments after training them for many months to live their new identities. By the end of the war, of these 400 agents, 100 were still missing, which was something that Atkins took upon herself. Atkins would make it a mission of hers to discover what become of the missing women, using her membership in the British War Crimes Commission and their investigations to fill in the missing pieces in her search for the spies. Although she was not able to find these spies, upon her retirement in the United States, Atkins focused on keeping the memory of these brave souls by publicizing their stories.

Vera Atkins, 1945

These are only some of the amazing stories of bravery and perseverance that arose out of the terrible events of World War II. Find stories like these interesting? See more entries of the blog for more!

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