I’ve been thinking lately of some of the crazy tidbits I’ve run across while researching my WWII series. Since a lot of these didn’t make it into my books for one reason or another, I thought I’d share a few here. In no particular order:
- Cheerios first came on the market in late 1941. They were originally called “Cheerioats.”
- To confuse potential Nazi invaders, British officials took down road signs throughout Britain as bombings began in 1940. The Nazis never made it to shore, and it mostly served to confuse the British.
- Housewives were encouraged to collect grease from bacon and other meat in tin cans and bring them to recycling centers. The grease was used to make amunition.
- Tornado sirens were not used widely until after the war not because siren technology was faulty, but because to track tornados well enough to provide adequate warning, radar was needed. Throughout the war, radar was purely a military technology.
- Army recruits got increasingly younger as the war went on. When my grandpa joined in 1940, he had to wait until his 21st birthday. By the last year of the war, boys as young as 18 could be drafted or enlist without parental consent, and they were sent into combat zones, mostly as replacements. Other rules grew more lax as well, such as the “perfect” vision requirement being lowered to “correctable” vision, and illiterate soldiers being sent to remedial classes instead of being turned away.
- In World War I, most nurses were sent to the war via the Red Cross. In World War II, the vast majority of nurses were part of the Armed Services, while the Red Cross sent women who provided snacks and other supplies to men in training centers.
- When Pearl Harbor was first bombed, the reaction of many Americans was to ask, “Where’s that?” since Hawaii wasn’t a state.
- Clothing was rationed in England during the war and for several years following. Princess (later Queen) Elizabeth II bought her wedding gown in 1947 with ration coupons.