Lesser Known Heroes/of WW1 and WW2 - In Honor of November 11th

When it comes to World War 1 and World War 2 knowledge, many people know of such battles as The Somme and Battle of the Bulge because of its horrific death tolls or because of being taught about it in school classes. In this MyTake, however, I want to introduce you all to lesser known battles and heroes that should be remembered on this day of November 11th. May you recognize the true heroism and sacrifices that were made.

Witold Pilecki - Polish Soldier and Auschwitz Prisoner #4859

Lesser Known Heroes/of WW1 and WW2 - In Honor of November 11th
Witold Pilecki - A True Polish War Hero

Pilecki bravely volunteered, as part of a Polish resistance operation, to be placed in the infamous Nazi death camp Auschwitz in order to gather intelligence and initiate a prisoner uprising. Many people, after the war, knew how brutally prisoners were treated in those camps. Before anyone knew what was going on in Auschwitz, however, it was thought that the location was just another POW camp. In order for information to be leaked, Pilecki infiltrated the camp for the Allies. Pilecki and other resistance members relayed information such as the number of prisoners coming in, the treatment of Jews, and other happenings. After escaping the camp in 1943, the Polish government was taken over by the Communists; Pilecki, loyal to the exile government, was treated as a traitor by the Stalinists that controlled Poland and was therefore executed. On the 1st of October 1990, the charges against Pilecki were revoked. He is now considered one of the most outstanding heroes on WW2 and is adored by the Polish people.

The Limping Priest - Rupert Mayer, S.J.

Lesser Known Heroes/of WW1 and WW2 - In Honor of November 11th
Rupert Mayer, S.J. - German Military Chaplain

Unfortunately, when many people think of the Germans of WW2 they incorrectly assume that they were all Nazis and Pro-Hitler. However, there were those that resisted the Nazi regime within Germany. One such man was Rupert Mayer, a Jesuit priest, military Chaplin during WW1, and member of the Catholic resistance to Nazism in Munich. He became the first clergy member to receive the Iron Cross for the recognition of his bravery on the front in 1915. Soldiers admired him for his consistent care for them during battles. He crawled along the dirt of the trenches and prayed for with soldiers. His nickname "The Limping Priest" came from his injury during WW1 after a grenade exploded next to him, resulting in the loss of one of his legs. He continued his efforts throughout the end of WW1 and after WW2 began. Due to the Nazi imposed law against clergy (Kanzelparagraphen), which forbade members of clergy speaking out against the government, Rupert Mayer was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp on November 3, 1939.

William Henry Johnson

Lesser Known Heroes/of WW1 and WW2 - In Honor of November 11th
Well Deserved Medal of Honor

In World War 1, May 14, 1918, Johnson singlehandedly fended off a swarm of more than 20 German soldiers using only his fists, a knife, and the butt of his rifle. In doing so, he saved the lives of his fellow soldiers and earned the nickname "Black Death". Being an African American soldier, his brave actions went largely unnoticed. Johnson was finally honored with the Purple Heart in 1996, the Distinguished Service Cross in 2002, and the Medal of Honor in 2015.

Battle for Hill 70 - A Forgotten Canadian Battle

Lesser Known Heroes/of WW1 and WW2 - In Honor of November 11th
Drinking Coffee 100 Yards from the German Lines

The Battle of Hill 70 began on August 15, 1917. Lieutenant General Arthur Currie took command of the Canadian Corps (see Canadian Expeditionary Force) in June 1917, following the Corps' victory at Vimy Ridge, replacing a British leader. The Royal Engineers fired drums of burning oil into the German positions on the hill, along with heavy artillery fire. The Germans were prepared with their machine-guns and fired upon the approaching Canadians, killing and wounding many. Despite the heavy opposition, the Canadians captured German machine-gun posts and advanced up the hill. Eventually, the Germans offered a counter attack but shells poured down on them and were met with a hail of machine-gun fire, completely annihilating them. By the end, 1,056 Canadians were dead, 2,432 were wounded and 39 had been taken prisoner.

Michael O'Rourke - Irish Canadian Stretcher Bearer for the Canadian Army
Michael O'Rourke - Irish Canadian Stretcher Bearer for the Canadian Army

Private Michael O’Rourke, an Irish-born Canadian, was awarded a Victoria Cross for his involvement in rescuing soldiers while being shot at by the opposing Germans during the Battle for Hill 70.

Natalia Peshkova - Combat Medic

Peshkova Helping an Injured Comrade
Peshkova Helping an Injured Comrade

After graduating from high school, at age 17, Natalia Peshkova enlisted in the Soviet army as a nurse. Wanting to participate in heavier combat, she was later assigned to the 71st Tank Brigade of the 3rd Guards Tank Army as a Komsorg (Komsomol organizer) for a tank battalion. She was wounded multiple times throughout her posting. Commenting on her ordeal, she stated:

I found myself face to face with a German, at the opposite corner of a log house. I guess he was trembling like me. I always wore trousers; perhaps he didn’t recognize that his rival was a girl. I was extremely frightened. I never saw a person who could kill me so near.

Peshkova received the Order of the Red Star for her bravery and outstanding commitment to the Soviets.


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  • Yeah cool, so many brave people, millions never get mentioned at all, during the battle of Britian the estimated survival time for members of the RAF was less than a month of continuous combat.

    In WW2 American marines often received 6 weeks training before that were packed into ships and sent away to storm some beach head in the south pacific, or fight the Germans, plenty of incredible people.

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    • Quite incredible indeed. So many of the soldiers of WW1 and WW2 were only teenagers that lied about their age. Kids these day's wouldn't be able to do that.

  • OMG someone who actually appreciates and understands the importance of history, What the hell are you doing on this intellectual wasteland called GAG?

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  • Daniel Inouye of the 442nd RCT is another hero that is often forgotten. https://www.nps.gov/articles/inouyeww2.htm

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  • It's arguable whether he was a hero in WW2, but you can't take one thing away from Hitler, he was a very brave, very tough soldier in WW1.

    Lesser Known Heroes/of WW1 and WW2 - In Honor of November 11th

    At the first battle of Ypres, Hitler's regiment had 3,600 men in it, and only 611 men survived. There were 250 men in Hitler's company, and only 42 survived. He was promoted to lance corporal for his actions during the battle, and turned into a message runner, often braving enemy fire to deliver messages on the battlefield. Because his parents were both dead, he spent his 18 day leave with one of his comrades, staying with their family in Berlin. He had nowhere else to go.

    Hitler fought in many battles, First Ypres, The Somme, Arras, Passchendaele, and Fromelles. Each of these battles resulted in significant losses to Hitler's Regiment. Setting and breaking the record for losses in the German Army on the Western Front more than once.

    Hitler was personally decorated for bravery twice, including an Iron Cross, first class, a rare medal and even more rare for men who came up from the ranks. When he was wounded terribly at The Somme, Hitler begged not to be evacuated. When he was posted to a much safer job far from the the Front in Munich, he wrote to his commanding officer and begged to be let back so he could fight alongside his comrades.

    Say what you will about his record in WW2 . . .

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    • Yes, I certainly agree, that he was quite the brave man during his time as a soldier in WW1. Seeing the Germans taking all the blame as a scapegoat for the losses in WW1 was precisely what started his journey to the brutal man he became afterwards.

    • Reading Mein Kampf definitely made me view him in a different light.

      It was easy for him to win support among his fellow veterans for massive, sweeping, radical reforms to both the government and even the society itself. If everything had been fine, he would have just been an angry guy ranting to himself at the end of the bar.

      Instead, he talked about how they needed to completely reform the entire country and throw out all the leaders who had betrayed them and betrayed their fallen comrades, and he met a very, very receptive audience with that message.

  • Wow... I knew about the American jistory during the great war but the other nations during the first and second world wars , i had no idea of the actions of those listed.
    Nonetheless that's still an exceptional article and well written.

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    • Thanks! Yeah, America's involvement is pretty well known. I was very inspired by the Polish soldiers.

    • Any act of bravery in wartime no matter what nation they're from should be honored.

  • All my relatives who actually fought in these wars are all gone now, all in the last 7 years, and unfortunately never wanted to talk about their experiences. I had a relative who was in the Battle of the Bulge, and another in the Pacific.

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    • Very few are left. Would've been amazing to hear their stories. I got to hear about Grandfather's involvement in the Merchant Navy during WW2.

    • I was lucky enough to have worked for a couple bosses, since retired or dead, who had been involved and would talk about it. One had lied about his age and joined the Merchant Marine at 15, then joined the US Marine Corps at 17. Another had been a kid in Nazi Germany and was 12, living in Berlin, when the Russians came in in 1945.

  • Dude this take is far too short. For starters there are loads of women who served as oss and soe agents all over France, mostly it is never recognised until their deaths.

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    • I narrowed it down to a few so it can be readable. There are A LOT I could talk about but then it would get too long. I'm quite the WW1 and WW2 buff.

  • My two granddads, my granny's friend and my wife's granddad were on the the front line in WW1. My granddads didn't survive WW2. My granny's friend survived WW2.

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    • Which front? My great grandfather was in the Somme and my great Uncle survived Beaumont Hamel.

    • When I was a small boy , all of it was told me so often that I stopped listening.

  • Oh yeah, didn't know this take was one-sided. You should check out Ottoman Empire's heroes if you really want to see a hero lol, especially three of these guys ;

    1. Seyit Onbaşı
    He was a First World War gunner in the Ottoman Army. He is famous for having carried three shells to an artillery piece during the Allied attempt to force the Dardanelles on 18 March 1915. Following the heavy naval bombardment of the forts guarding the Narrows on 18 March 1915, the gun he was serving in the Medjidieh fort remained operational, but its shell crane had been damaged.

    Corporal Seyit, by himself, is said to have carried three artillery shells weighing 275 kg to the 240/35 mm gun[1] and enabled it to continue firing on the Allied Fleet. He shot three rounds to the British pre-dreadnought HMS Ocean; trying to fish sailors of HMS Irresistible hit and disabled by a mine earlier.[2] His third shot suffered a severe injury to HMS Ocean. The shot fell under the water mechanism of the ship causing the ship to lie down, then Nusret hit one of the mines that the mine crew had dumped. HMS Ocean[3] capsized shortly after. Following the repulse of the naval assault, Seyit was promoted to corporal and publicized as an iconic Turkish hero.

    2. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
    Fought against Allied Powers in many fronts and won every battle he had against them. After Treaty of Sevres, when UK, Armenia, Italy, France and Greece shared Ottoman lands between eachother. He organized Turkish people to fight against them, and kicked all of them out from the country even due to we had like 3.5 million death in WW1.

    3. Ömer Fahreddin Türkkan
    Who defended city of Medina from British and Arab co-operation with only 3500 men, against their 10.000. Made allied powers suffer even due to there weren't enough foods in city and he had to eat grasshoppers with his soldiers, they defended that city like that and gave Allied Powers huge casualties.

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    • Why would I represent the Ottomans? They committed a genocide on the Armenian people. No thanks.

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    • However at last, we decided to force migration on Armenians since they were keep attacking our villages and trying to cause rebellion in Ottoman Empire while we were fighting against Allied Powers at the same time. Cause of this reason we decided to send them around Syria with trains which Germany bringt to us, however Germans wanted to use these trains later and they made Armenians to get out from those trains and continue on foot. During their migration period most of their people died cause of sicknesses, contagious, virus and such. Today they say '' 2.5 Armenians were killed '' do you know how Ottoman Empire fought against Allied Powers? In Battle of Gallipoli we sent our 15 year old kids to defend our country from Allieds, do you think we did that genocide with these 15 year old kids? Thats how Ottoman Empire was hardly saving itself from losing the war and today people say we killed 2.5 Million Armenians. But noone say Armenians did shit things.

    • Another fact is, Armenians count Tashnak-Hinchak terrorist group in that 2.5 million number too, because they cry to world and they think world will make Turkey accept that shitty lie thing so thats why they cry and try to push that shit on us.

      I dont love Turkey's current president, but some years ago he said something to EU which was ''We didn't do such thing like that, if you want we can open up our Military Archives and show you our sources if there is something like that'' however Armenians DIDN'T ACCEPT THAT. Go and search it on google, why they didn't want that? Because its a lie and thats what Armenians are fed from.

      I support you to check out Ottoman Empire's help to Ireland when there was a big ''famine'' in your country around late 1800s. We sent you many goods, foods and such and we saved your people from dying and suffering. We even gave you thousands of Sterlins to handle yourselve even your football team Drogheda United have moon and star symbol cause of it

  • Another little know hero of WW2 is a German soldier. Sgt. Major Willi Rogmann. He fought through the war and in the last battle for Berlin. A maverick by all accounts. Winner of the Melee clasp in gold. That alone gives an indication of his bravery. Very hard to find info on him. He wrote some books of his wartime experiences with the Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler. Amazon have them in German at mad money 95-130 EURO!!! Tony leTissier in his book "With our backs to Berlin" Has a fair bit of information on his exploits.
    I've been trying for a while to find any publications on him but it's difficult. Willi was some character, would go single handed to destroy Russian machine gun nests before his breakfast. He destroyed 5 one morning!!!

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    • Yes, I have heard of him! He was definitely an asset for the Germans during the battle for Berlin.

  • These are all incredible heroes, and indeed are little-known (I've never heard of any of them).

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  • I always hate it when Eu thinks they even remotely did anything meaning full for WW2 and forgets about other parties,
    You want to look at real heroes search for,
    Kiev, Stalingrad, Leningrad (people), Moscow, Krusk salient, Operation bargarten, Moscow, Berlin, Rhizev and Sevastapool/Crimea

    They fight the Germans to last man alive and have their population massacred and raped to death. If you want to look at real heroes they will be
    General zhukov, Konstantin Rokossovsky, Aleksandr Vasilevsky (Germans call him GRAND MASTER) and the Great heroes
    Heinz Guderian, Rommel and 100's of german generals (they deserve respect to just cuz they fight on opposite side doesn't mean we should forget them)

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    • The European conservative right liked Adolph Hitler because he was anti Communist and anti socialist. That's why they let him rise to power.

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    • @jacquesvol No dude I am from the same area so I can't be anti-Semetic :) cuz I speak Arabic and Jews are not semetic by DNA they just speak a Hebrew (semetic) language. Its the whole point of fighting in Palestine,
      The Jews claim the Israel to be their homeland and wan't to be part of Middle-East (they want acceptance by neighbouring countries) but everybody knows West literally install them there after the ww2 and nobody consider them anything but looters.
      I can give some help to Jews about living in Palestine but they out-rightly don't accept the 2 nation status of Israel and declare its homeland to Jews only and they are trying to force Arab population out of Israel, when their only claim to land reset entirely on the UN 2 state resolution.
      The Arab countries were weak in past now they are sicken tired of Jews and due to recent Palestine sniping and killing of Arabs, everybody literally hates them.

    • unlike you my friend I actually helped the Jew Uni mate visit his family members in Middle-East but HE is not zonist like 80% shit out-there but still timing was bad, the Israel military gunned 700 people prior to his visit and almost everybody from Police to local shopkeeper looked like they want to kill him.
      I am not attacking jews but there is something about Jews (inbreeding may be) any other Middle-Eastern can detect a Jew in matter of second and viceversa, Jew will also d/f between d/f breeds of Arabs and narrow down your homeland to city.

  • i solute the young men that fought in war

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  • interesting, very interesting

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  • Interesting

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  • Vito Mussolini was the true hero of WW 2

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