On the morning of June 6, 1944, an armada of landing ships chopped through the icy, stinging waters of the English Channel, ferrying thousands of troops toward the German-held beaches in a surprise attack that changed the course of the war and of human history. On the far eastern edge of the invasion fleet, one landing craft held a special commodity which no other could boast: deployed along with the 1st Special Services Brigade, many of whom were Scottish, 21-year-old Bill Millin, a Royal Marine Commando in direct service to the brigade commander prepared for the landing. Millin, unlike his fellow soldiers, did not prepare a helmet, rifle, or bayonet; instead, he hoisted and readied the traditional and iconic instrument of Scottish warriors: bagpipes.
In a memorable scene from the 1975 movie Jaws, Captain Quint, played by Robert Shaw, tells of his World War II experience on board the USS Indianapolis as it sank in shark-infested waters in 1945. Although the characters in the film were all obviously fictitious, the sinking that Quint described was real, and every inch terrible enough to warrant its inclusion in one of the most horrifying thriller movies ever produced.
In February of 1945, US Marines attacked the rocky Japanese island of Iwo Jima, whose name literally means 'Sulfur Island'. American military strategists planned the invasion as the first assault on one of Japan’s “Home Islands” in World War II, and its success would deny the Empire the use of the island for early warning purposes and as an emergency landing strip for its damaged aircraft, while providing the United States with the same advantages. On February 9, US Navy battleships and B-24 heavy bombers from the 7th Air Force began an intense bombardment of the Japanese troops garrisoned in the island's fortified bunkers which lasted for ten days.
"Look what I found, dear!" On May 5, 1945, Elsie Mitchell shouted these words back to her husband Archie, as he returned from parking the car for their church picnic outing in Bly, Oregon. Elsie, a pregnant 26-year-old Sunday school teacher, and five teenaged students approached the oddity they had found, half buried in a late-season snowbank. Someone shouted that it was a balloon, and one or more of the children tried to drag it back to a more open area. Archie Mitchell, a local pastor, had heard of explosive-laden balloons spotted near the west coast. He yelled back for them not to touch it, but it was too late, and the balloon contraption exploded, sending flames into the air and shaking the ground.