1. London Zoo killed all its venomous animals when World War II broke out:
Sounds a bit harsh, but it’s true. When the Second World war began on the 3rd September 1939, the British Government ordered London Zoo to close its gates. They also ordered all other public places where people gathered to be shut. London Zoo shipped its most valuable animals out of the city. Most went to Whipsnade Zoo in Dunstable for safe keeping. These included Giant Pandas, Orang–utans, chimpanzees, and elephants. London Zoo did keep some of their animals. However, they were worried what would happen if a bomb hit the zoo and caused damage to the dangerous animals enclosures. If they would escaped into the City, it would cause panic, injury, or even deadly bites. So, as a precaution, the Zoo killed all the venomous animals.
2. During the Normandy Invasion, a Scottish Bagpiper played the pipes on the beach:
And he didn’t get shot. Not once. At all. Unlike everyone else, who were easy targets for German Snipers. Bill Millin decided to become an easier target, though, and still didn’t get shot. He strolled up and down the beach, out in the open, in plain sight, where everyone could see him, and hear him, whilst playing the bagpipes. After the end of the invasion, the British captured a lot of the German snipers, and they asked the obvious question, “Why didn’t you shoot at the Bagpiper?” The snipers looked puzzled, “We didn’t shoot at him because he was obviously insane.”
3. World War II saw the last person to be convicted of witchcraft:
Yep, it’s true. In 1944, Helen Duncan was convicted and imprisoned for nine months under the Witchcraft Act 1735, which made falsely claiming to procure spirits a crime. She was released in 1945 and promised to stop conducting séances. It didn’t last, she was arrested again a few years later, released on bail, and died soon after. The Witchcraft Act was repealed in 1951 when the Fraudulent Mediums Act was made into law.
4. During the Second World War, there was a cat that was literally unsinkable:
He was dubbed Unsinkable Sam. It’s common, or at least was common back in the day, to have a cat aboard a ship. It was thought to bring luck. But in reality the cat was there to catch the mice that plagued them. One such cat, Unsinkable Sam, was aboard the German ship Bismarck during it’s one and only mission on the 18th May 1941. During the famous battle on 27th May, the Bismarck was sunk by a Royal Navy task force. Most of the crew perished, but Sam was found floating on some wreckage and rescued by the British sailors. The sailors renamed him Oscar and he served on HMS Cossack. The Cossack was hit by a torpedo on the 24th October 1941 and sank. Most of the crew of the Cossack died, except Sam. I mean, Oscar. He survived and was renamed Unsinkable Sam and went to serve aboard the aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal. Then, you guessed it, Ark Royal was hit by a torpedo a few weeks later and sank. And again Unsinkable Sam survived. He was then retired to live out the rest of his five lives in Belfast. The Royal Navy couldn’t afford to lose any more ships to a cat.
5. A German U-Boat sank because the Captain flushed the toilet:
The U-Boat U-1206 was on patrol, chugging along nicely, when the Captain felt something wrong down below. Nothing to do with the sub, it was his bowels that were the problem. He went into the head, pulled his pants down, and fired off a few torpedoes and one massive depth charger. When he finished, instead of simply flushing the toilet, which is actually not as simple as it sounds on a submarine, the Captain opened a valve to the outside, causing the sea water to rush in. When the water got introduced to the boat’s batteries, they produced a deadly chlorine gas. The Captain ordered the U-boat to the surface to vent the gas and recycle the air. Unfortunately, they were off the Scottish coastline at the time and the boat was fired upon. Unable to escape, the Captain ordered the U-Boat be scuttled. Four men were killed. And it happened just three weeks before the end of the war.