Although the majority of us know about the horrific event coined as World War Two, we have put together a shortlist of some facts which are much less well-known;
- Between 26th May and 4th June 1940 some miraculous things happened on the French beach of Dunkirk, they were, in fact, coined ‘miraculous’ by Winston Churchill, the then British Prime Minister, who had warned the House of Commons to expect “hard and heavy tidings”. Allied soldiers stranded in Dunkirk while it was under heavy fire, didn’t know if they would ever make it home again, but Operation Dynamo managed to evacuate 338,226 Allied soldiers back home.
- Many civilian vessels also participated in the Dunkirk rescue operation, helping save hundreds of lives. Those civilian vessels fly a warranted house flag of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, which is the St. George’s Cross (a red cross on a white background), with the arms of Dunkirk in the center.
- During the summer of 1940 around 8,000,000 Dutch, French, and Belgian refugees were created.
- The 1963 film The Great Escape depicts a heavily fictionalized version of a seriously great escape of March 1944 from a Luftwaffe-run Prisoner of War camp, Stalag Luft III, that held captured Allied air force personnel. Three tunnels (named Tom, Dick, and Harry) were dug for the escape, with the hope that even if one were to be discovered, the guards would probably not imagine that another two tunnels were already well underway. The tunnels were so secret that everyone had to refer to them by their names, and no one was to even whisper the word ‘tunnel’. Tom was discovered by the German guards and dynamited, Dick was abandoned after the prisoners realized that it would have surfaced in a space cleared for camp expansion, and Harry was discovered while the escape was still in progress but after 76 of the 220 planned escapees managed to escape.
- The British pilots who took part in what became known as the Battle of Britain came to be known as ‘The few’ after a speech by Churchill, where he said: “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few”. The Battle refers to a military campaign in which the RAF defended the UK against large-scale air raid attacks by the Luftwaffe, the Nazi air force, and ended up being marked as the first major defeat of Germany’s military forces.
- The London Underground system became a literal lifesaver when it sheltered as many as 180,000 people every night during the incessant bombing of London, when from the 7th September 1940 London was bombed for 57 consecutive nights.