Best Little Stories from World War II, 2E: More than 100 true stories

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BEHIND THE GREAT POWERS , global military conflict, and infamous battles are more than 100 incredible stories that bring to life the Second World War. During the six years of war were countless little-known moments of profound triumph and tragedy, bravery and cowardice, and good and evil.

These amazing and unbelievable stories of brotherhood, redemption, escape, and civilian courage shed new light on the war that gripped the entire world. ...

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Best Little Stories from World War II: More than 100 true stories

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BEHIND THE GREAT POWERS , global military conflict, and infamous battles are more than 100 incredible stories that bring to life the Second World War. During the six years of war were countless little-known moments of profound triumph and tragedy, bravery and cowardice, and good and evil.

These amazing and unbelievable stories of brotherhood, redemption, escape, and civilian courage shed new light on the war that gripped the entire world. Experience the action through the eyes of people like:

Lieutenant Jacob Beser, who was aboard both the Enola Gay and Bock's Car and felt the force of the shockwave that nearly destroyed the planes after dropping the H-bombs that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Professor William Miller, who collapsed during a death march of POWs in Germany and was saved by the same man who had rescued him from what would have been a fatal car wreck in Pennsylvania five years earlier.

The brave civilians who answered the British Admiralty's call to help rescue an army from Dunkirk during the height of a dangerous battle and sailed small fishing boats into relentless German fire, ultimately saving 335,000 men from

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402243578
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks
  • Publication date: 11/1/2010
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 266,782
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

C. Brian Kelly, a prize-winning journalist, is cofounder of Montpelier Publishing and a columnist and editor emeritus for Military History magazine. He is also a lecturer in news writing at the University of Virginia. Kelly's articles have appeared in Reader's Digest, Friends, Yankee, Rod Serling's Twilight Zone, and other magazines. He is the author of several books on American history and resides in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Read an Excerpt

Many among us today have forgotten. Too many simply don't know...don't really understand.
It may be a cliché to say so, but truly, World War II produced a million and one heroes. Beyond such figurative language, of course, it was a searing experience for millions upon millions of people, worldwide. It produced statistics on such gross and massive scale that they lose their humanity. They become mere numbers-20,000,000 Russians killed; 6,000,000 Holocaust victims; 326,166 Americans among the millions of Allied and Axis military personnel killed. The horrific figures roll off the tongue, pass by the eye, all too easily. How often do we visualize the people, real people, they represent? Each of the dead, each of the living caught up in the global storm-man, woman, or child-had his or her own place in this cataclysmic event we call World War II.

Many among us today have forgotten. Too many simply don't know...don't really understand.

Whether soldier or civilian, victor, villain, or victim, nobody who was there will ever forget it. For many-let's be honest about it now-it was the most exciting, the most gratifying thing that happened in their entire lives. But for so many more others, the most tragic. For millions, it was the end of life itself. For millions of others, it brought a change in lifestyle, outlook, occupation or location never to be undone. In this country for one, life simply would not be as before. The farm boy had seen the world. The women had zeroed in on their equality. Racial segregation was on its way out, albeit not there yet. The mobile society had arrived. Technology had triumphed.
Good had conquered evil...for the time being.

But at what cost! Far more, worldwide, than the twenty million, more than the other six million, far more than those two figures added together, but instead a total, both soldier and civilian, by any measure unprecedented in world history, a number now calculated at fifty or sixty million, but even then totally inadequate as an expression of the toll in pure human misery.

Among the changes, though, the once-isolationist, Depression-stricken United States of America suddenly had become the ranking world power. A savior to the civilized world from modern barbarism too!

It is amazing to look back now, going on a century later...and to remember how different we were. Among military men, majors and colonels in their twenties! Teenagers flying fighter planes against fellow young people on the opposing side. Innocent civilians of all ages, all sides, both genders, under the gun, the bomb, the artillery barrage.

As a kid, lucky for me, but wide-eyed with wonder anyway, my closest brush with it all was looking out to sea from Palm Beach, Florida, and seeing the sudden, lightninglike blink of distant naval guns or torpedo hits just off the coast. Or finding the oil-covered debris on the beach a day or so later. In New England a year later, alternatively, it was collecting for the scrapmetal drives or gather­ing milkweed pods for the life jackets our sailors and merchantmen needed to survive even more torpedo hits somewhere out there in a still-teetering world.

Later, not quite at war's end, I began to peck out newspaper stories from the front on my mother's typewriter, recopying the news of the war.

One April afternoon, I went to the movies. I came out to unusually quiet, subdued streets. It was FDR...dead. FDR, president since 1933...because I was born after that, he was the only president I had ever known. Then, more happily, just weeks later, came V-E Day, followed in late summer by V-J Day!

Suddenly, it was all over. Life moved on. For the still-living, that is. Home folk and veterans picked up their pieces and went their many ways.

But...what a generation! Just consider: among the veterans, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush...each of whom became president of the United States. And so many others who contributed to society in myriad ways...and more who led quiet, more mundane lives.

In time, I became a newspaper reporter. And later than that, editor of World War II and Military History magazines.

Vicariously speaking, the war wasn't behind me after all. In my magazine role, not too surprisingly, I kept running into amazing, moving, LITTLE stories from World War II. Odd things, terrible things, brave things that happened to people in the war, people great and "small."

In 1989, rather than see these stories simply disappear, I thought: Why not gather them all together between two covers as a more lasting record, as a book? My mother, Claire Burke, my future wife (and collaborator on future books) Ingrid Smyer, and I took a chance on that dream. We self-published the first edition of Best Little Stories from World War II, a collection of 101 short narratives based upon a variety of sources.

Imagine our gratification as our "little" book, just over two hundred pages, kept selling...and selling! First thing we knew, we had gone through eight editions and sold more than thirty-five thousand copies!

All the time, though, I kept finding more and more stories I wanted to add to the original, many of them additional pieces I had written for the two maga­zines, often as Best Little Stories columnist (and editor emeritus) for Military History alone.

At this stage, I owe the Cowles History Group in Leesburg, Virginia, former publisher of World War II and Military History magazines, a vote of thanks for later allowing fresh publication between these covers of my additional stories that first appeared in one magazine or the other. Both the new stories and the old ones are part of this new, greatly expanded version of Best Little Stories from World War II, now consisting of more than 160 stories and a biographical sketch of Eleanor Roosevelt by my wife and fellow author, Ingrid Smyer.

Just as important, we owe another vote of thanks to Ron Pitkin, president of Cumberland House Publishing in Nashville, Tennessee, (now an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc: Naperville, Illinois), for agreeing back in 1998 to publish my World War II book in its expanded form.

At this stage, too, as I review, edit, and ponder the stories before I think back to those days of Palm Beach hotels populated by Army Air Corps trainees, rather than tourists, of those nighttime explosions out to sea, one thought keeps coming back to me, back to me again and again...that what this book effort amounts to, in my own small but thankful way, is tribute to a passing those often-incredible men and women who either fought or endured, sometimes both, through that terrible conflict we call World War II.

Don't we all...still owe them all?
Charlottesville, Virginia
C. Brian Kelly
January 1998
and summer 2010

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Table of Contents


Introduction xiii
Prologue xvii
War and Peace at Odds 1
Ambassador's Briefcase Purloined 2
Inches from Death 4
Underground War 7
Movie Show in Shanghai 9
Monster Created 11
Street Fights and Bombs 12
War of Nerves 14
"Inspection" Interrupted 16
Diplomacy Under Physical Stress 18
War's First Battle 19
Eagle's Brief Flight 21
Revolting Visit to Poland 25
Incredible, Ubiquitous Samaritan 26
Jockeying for Position 28
Plans Gone Astray 30
Dinner Guest 35
Bold Gamble Supported? 36
"Intend to Fire Torpedo" 38
"Never Such a Fleet" 40
Titanic Connection 43
Treasure Ships En Route 48
Landing with Piggyback Rider 51
Parachutist Draped on Wing 53
Stricken Pilot's Pivotal Decision 55
Pet Spy in England 57
Penalty Exacted for Coventry 59
Blues vs Reds 60
Patterns on a Dining Room Table 62
Generals from the Eighties 64
Memorable Utterances 67
Saga Piled upon Saga 69
Early Martyr at Auschwitz 71
Whose Planes These? 74
Warnings Repeatedly Ignored 76
War "Half as Bad as It Sounds" 78
Countdown 79
Farewell from Stalin 81
Ally in the White House 83
Fleet of Moles 86
Mount Your Tanks! 87
Faith, Hope, and Charity 90
No Action Taken 91
Tough Farewell for FDR 93

War, War, Everywhere War 99
No Place for a Visitor 100
Date to Mark 102
Footnote to Pearl 105
"Too Damned Old" 107
Bird Named Swoose 109
Chennault Strikes Back 111
Disorderly Ran the Two Ships 114
Going around FDR's Secrecy 116
Tale of a Stowaway 118
MacArthur's Extended Escape 119
Japanese-American vs Japan 124
Bombed by Oranges 126
Long Odyssey into War 127
Blind Leading the Blind 129
Hands of Steel 130
Early Tokyo Run 132
Tokyo's Psychological Shock 136
Tale of Two Ships 138
Seagoing Guards 143
He Stopped Rommel 145
Spinster Ship 147
Getting from Here to There 149
Rendezvous for Faithful Companion 151
Hunt for Tall, Limping Man 153
Escape to Berlin 155
High Drama at Sea 161
Women at War 163
No Comforts on New Guinea 167
Bully That Never Fought 169
Romance amid Society's Ruins 171
Hitler's Bathwater Purloined 173
Intelligence War 174

War Still Supreme 177
Tapping the Hot Line 178
Brave Trigger's Last Patrol 183
Conversation with the Lord 186
Non-Swimmer's Worst Nightmare 190
Constant Companion Cuthbert 193
Liaison Corps 196
Ship's Piano Purloined 199
A "Duckling" Transfixed 200
Only Harry 203
Kilroy Really Was 205
Square Balloon 207
"Mush" Morton Legend 209
Plea of the White Rose 211
Soothed into Agreement 212
Brothers to the End 213
Young Man Whittling 214
Death of Leslie Howard 215
Shipmates to the End 218
Stalingrad's "White Rose" 220

Allies on Ascendancy 223
"Hey, We're on Your Side" 224
"Smoking Too Much" 225
Close Call for FDR 227
Riding Enemy's Truck 228
"Sure Am Sorry" 231
Oops, No Parachute 232
War Story 234
Courage Extended 235
Strife at High Levels 239
Search for "Big Stoop" 241
Doubling for Monty 243
One Man Army 247
New Hope for "Kitty" 251
Only Ike Did It All 254
Two in Single-Seat Fighter 256
A General and His Dog 257
Faint Sound in the Distance 259
Hitchhiker to the Rescue 262
Marooned in America 264
Fear and Trembling 267
Destruction, Destruction Everywhere 269
Million and One Heroes 271
Marooned in Modern France 272
Resistance at Auschwitz 275
Record Set Escaping 278
Apology Between Enemies 280
Wildly Varied Lot 283
Prepare to Attack Fleet 285
Agent's Unexpected Role 287
Presidential Unit Citation 290
Escape from Auschwitz 292

Final Throes 295
Remarkable Delaying Action 296
What to Call the Battle? 297
Ripple Effect 300
"Miracles Do Happen" 301
Platoon's Heroics at the Bulge 304
Playing Possum 308
Practice Makes Perfect 311
Fateful Tea Party 313
Southpaw's Cruel Fate 314
"They're Still There" 315
Flag Raised at Iwo 317
Aboard "Apartment Ship" 320
Obituary 324
Freedom March 325
Sink Sank Ship 328
Who Are You? 330
GI's New Boots 332
Fifth Army Fortunes 335
Horror Story 337
Rescue by Drunk Driver 341
FDR's Last Visit 342
Aliases for FDR 346
Parachuting into Enemy Territory 349
Flowers on Their Graves 353
Brothers/Sisters of the Sea 356
Waiting to Be Shot 358
Farther than Any Army 360
Greatest Invasion Averted 362
"I Saw the Mushroom Cloud" 365
Momentous Word Flashed 371
Escape from New Menace 374
Humanitarian in Budapest 375
Last Missing WASP 380
End Is Seen 383
Among the Former Enemy 385
Postscript 390

Eleanor Roosevelt: Woman for the Ages by Ingrid Smyer 393
World War II: A Detailed Chronology 409
Index 415
About the Authors 428

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2014

    Great book of short stories

    Realistic and moving stories of believable characters who faced the aftermath of WWII.....I highly recommend this book to anyone who is smitten with WWII stories. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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  • Posted September 18, 2014

    highly recommended

    inspiring you will truly understand what or troops went compilation I have ever read on WW ll

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  • Posted September 5, 2014

    Some of the stories are mind-blowing!

    Still reading it but have been blown away with some of the stories. A few are a bit ho hum, but some are simply fantastic. Am enjoying it very much

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2015

    No text was provided for this review.

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