Wild War Stories That Deserve Their Own Movies


The 12-Year-Old Who Enlisted During World War II

Let’s say you’re watching a movie set after the attack on Pearl Harbor. It features a naval ship under attack, and along with all the hardened seamen, you see a pre-teen scampering about and operating the guns. Clearly, this would be a ridiculous detail thrown in, sacrificing accuracy in the name of making a more dramatic movie. Or maybe he’s about to burst into a song because you mistakenly walked into a musical, and you have mere seconds to escape the theater before it’s too late.

Except, one kid that young actually did fight in the Pacific Theater during World War II — Calvin Graham, who decided to join up when he was 11. Graham started shaving, though he had nothing to shave, reasoning that if he looked like he just shaved, he’d look older than he was. At 12, he successfully enlisted by lying about his age. A fair number of young men lied about their age back then, so the recruiter probably realized something was amiss, but it was usually, say, 15-year-olds saying they were 16, not 12-year-olds.

Wild War Stories That Deserve Their Own Movies Funny US Navy
Normally, we caption every Navy photo by calling the guy sexy, but we’ll refrain from that this time.

Graham went to basic training, telling his mother he was visiting relatives, and then he was assigned to the USS South Dakota. So, did this kid wind up some kind of mascot, who hung around in the kitchens but never did any actual military stuff? Not exactly. He took part in a couple of different battles loading the ship’s guns, and during one of these, he got wounded in the face. Even after being wounded, he managed to save fellow men who had fallen overboard. So, his time at sea earned him a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star.

His tween military career only ended because his mother spotted him in a newsreel and so realized what he was doing. When the ship returned to America for a couple of weeks, Graham slipped away to attend his grandmother’s funeral, and his mother took the opportunity to file a complaint to get him relieved from duty. Called out on their error, the Navy had a good laugh and … sentenced Graham to three months in the brig. Hey, you pretend to be an adult, you get punished like an adult. That’s the law! (Maybe; we didn’t look it up.)


When A Reporter Broke That Germany Invaded Poland, She Held A Phone To The Tanks To Prove It

In 1939, The Daily Telegraph was looking to send more reporters into Poland as things seemed to be getting a tad tense. They decided to hire Clare Hollingworth, a freelancer who’d been in Warsaw recently, helping thousands to escape the country by getting them British visas. Just a couple days into her new job, Hollingworth was driving back into Poland after going to Germany on a booze run, and the valley she was passing through happened to have giant cloth screens blocking whatever was happening behind them. Then the wind blew one screen away. Behind it was thousands of German soldiers.

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