After the French surrender in 1940, Germany created a puppet government in Vichy. This government did not have any real power or control. However, after the French defeat, there were still French forces in places such as Northern Africa, Pacific colonies and navy ships. During Operation Torch, Vichy forces were forced to fight against invading allies. “The stiff Vichy resistance cost the Americans 556 killed and 837 wounded. Three hundred British troops and 700 French soldiers were also killed.”
On December 7th, 1941, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Many Japanese pilots were able to return to aircraft carriers, but a few had been shot down, or had crashed on the island of Oahu. Japanese pilots were told that if they were to crash land, they should do so on the island of Ni’ihau, which they thought was uninhabited. Shigenori Nishikaichi was a pilot whose plane had been damaged. He crash landed on Ni’ihau, which he soon found out was inhabited. He was treated as a guest, but soon they found out about the attack on Pearl Harbor. 3 Japanese on the island tried to help Nishikaichi to escape, but eventually they were stopped, and Nishikaichi as well as one of the Japanese who tried to aid him were killed. This became known as the Ni’ihau incident.
The Death Match was a football (soccer for Americans) match between a POW Soviet team, “FC Start”, and a team comprised of Luftwaffe members, “Flakelf”. The match was played on August 9th, 1942, and was refereed by a Waffen SS soldier. The ref was very biased, and allowed fouls against the Soviet side, and even allowed a German to kick the Soviet goalkeeper in the head. Eventually, the Soviet team pulled off a 5-3 win. This win had huge consequences for the winners. “A number of the FC Start players were arrested and tortured by the Gestapo, allegedly for being NKVD members (as Dynamo was a police-funded club). One of the arrested players, Mykola Korotkykh, died under torture. The rest were sent to the Syrets labour camp, where Ivan Kuzmenko, Oleksey Klimenko, and the goalkeeper Mykola Trusevich were later killed, in February 1943.
On June 3rd, 1942, Japanese forces invaded and occupied Attu and Kiska, two islands which were part of the state of Alaska. However, these islands had little value, very bad conditions and proved little of a threat to the United States. Many resulting casualties were not caused by gunfire, but booby traps, the weather and friendly fire.
From the Fall of 1944, until early 1945, the Japanese began launching over 9000 “Fire Balloons” from the island of Honshu. These balloons were made of Japanese paper (washi), filled with hydrogen and explosives. They were meant to go with the Jet Stream and fly to North America where they would detonate. The plan was very ineffective and only about 1000 made it the North America. However, 6 Americans were killed in 1945 in a single explosion.
This is likely to be the best known item on the list. Stalag Luft III was a Nazi POW camp, mostly for allied airmen who’d been shot down and taken captive. However, these airmen were very crafty and over 600 had helped to organize an escape committee, which secretly began to dig tunnels and make plans. On March 24th, 1944, the plan was executed, but from the start, everything went wrong. Only 77 men managed to get into the escape tunnels, and were soon discovered. Of the 77, only 3 managed to get to safety. 50 escapees were executed by the orders of Hitler. This escape attempt was made into a 1963 film, “The Great Escape”.