Interesting Facts Quiz: WWII



By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: sgbirch from Peterborough, United Kingdom

About This Quiz

“May God have mercy for my enemies because I won’t.” So said American General George S. Patton during World War II. Patton was often full of hot air, but in this case he was exceedingly accurate, as he spent much of WWII sending German troops running for their lives. Do you know much about the quirky and fascinating facts of the Second World War?

You already know that many people call Germany’s invasion of Poland the beginning of the war. But did you know that Japan’s attack on China in 1937 resulted in millions of deaths and contributed to worldwide instability? You also know that America dropped atomic weapons on Japan – an event that’s often credited with forcing the Japanese to surrender. But did you know that in early August 1945, the Soviets attacked Japan with more than 1.6 million troops? That invasion -- rather than the atomic attacks -- may have actually been the tipping point for Japan’s leaders.

Some historians fault America’s leaders for delaying the country’s entry into WWII. But after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. dove headfirst into war. Do you know just how powerful America’s war industry became in the span of just a few short years? From P-51 fighters to Sherman tanks to B-29 bombers, the U.S. was determined to show the Empire of the Sun and the Third Reich what democracy was all about.

Take our interesting WWII facts quiz now! We’ll see if you really know the statistics and mind-boggling stories of this terrible conflict.

What percentage of the world’s population was killed during WWII?

The numbers are — and due to the magnitude, will always be — approximate, but about 60 to 80 million people died in the war. That was about 3% of the world’s population.


Germany suffered more than 4.3 million soldiers killed or missing in WWII. Most of those men died at the hands of the _____.

The lesson? Never betray Stalin. WWII was a bloodbath for the Germans, as more than 4.3 million troops never made it home. Most of them died at the hands of the Soviets.


Britain’s Queen Elizabeth served during WWII in what capacity?

Elizabeth is the only current head of state to have served in the war. Among other jobs, she served as a truck mechanic, making her a straight-up icon unmatched in WWII political history.


America awarded 464 Medals of Honor due to WWII. Most of those medals went to members of which branch of the military?

The Army took the brunt of combat action in WWII, so it’s logical that its personnel won 324 Medals of Honor out of the 464 doled out during the war. In total, 266 of those medals were awarded posthumously.


During a famous air battle — the Battle of Britain — what was average life expectancy for British pilots?

Britain lost pilots as fast as it could train them. During the Battle of Britain, Royal Air Force pilots survived, on average, for about four weeks.


Which country suffered the greatest number of military and civilians casualties during WWII?

The Nazis are never your friends. In 1941, Hitler betrayed his alliance with Stalin, attacking the USSR. By the end of the war, the USSR would suffer around 25 million dead, far more than any other nation.


Where did the very first American die in action during WWII?

In April 1940, a German bombardment struck Dombas, Norway. The attack killed 31-year-old Robert M. Losey, the first American to die in WWII combat.


How many code-named landing beaches did the Allies attack on D-Day?

On June 6, 1944, the Allies launched the biggest amphibious assault in human history, on five codenamed beaches of Normandy, France. Those beaches are forever enshrined in the annals of combat.


Which one of the code-named beaches of the D-Day assault was deadliest for the Allies?

Some troops were lucky, encountering less German resistance than expected during D-Day. Others, like those who struggled ashore to Omaha Beach, were cut down in vicious streams of machine gun fire — nearly 2,400 Allied casualties occurred at Omaha Beach alone.


What did the "D" in "D-Day" stand for?

The "D" was just a "D." In military parlance, it merely referred to the "day" that the the Battle of Normandy began.


The Allies sent about 156,000 troops ashore on D-Day. How many of those men were Americans?

The Americans shouldered much of the burden (and bloodshed) of D-Day. Of the 156,000 troops who waded into slaughter, nearly half (73,000) were Americans.


How long did the German siege of Leningrad last?

The Germans were determined to capture the Soviet city of Leningrad; the Soviets were equally determined to stay. For 872 days, the two sides engaged in a bloody back-and-forth siege.


The Siege of Leningrad lasted for 872 days, so food was scarce. In some cases, people ate _____ to survive.

The siege will likely forever stand as the worst in the history of humanity. In Leningrad, civilians were so hungry that some resorted to cannibalism to survive. The police initiated special patrols meant primarily to keep people from eating each other.


About 6 million European Jews died in the Holocaust. Of those 6 million, half were from which country?

Poland suffered enormously due to German aggression. About 3 million Polish Jews died at the hands of the Nazis, accounting for half of all the Jews murdered by Hitler.


On average, how long did American troops serve overseas during WWII?

It was undoubtedly the longest 16 months of their lives — that’s about how long American troops served overseas in WWII.


Audie Murphy was a famous U.S. soldier in WWII. How old was he when he enlisted in the Army?

Murphy’s sister falsified his birth date so that he could join the Army at just 17 years of age. His youth didn't matter -- before he turned 20, he’d earned every medal of valor the Army could offer.


Which of the following Allied nations suffered the most troops killed in action?

Historians often fault the United States for its delayed entry into the war. But America suffered more KIA (405,000) than Britain (373,000) or France (213,000) in WWII.


How many Americans served in uniform during WWII?

Once America finally joined the war, it did so with vigor. More than 16 million of this nation’s people served in uniform during the conflict.


True or false, did the USSR produce more tanks than the U.S. during the war?

It’s true, the Soviets rushed tanks into production, building more than 105,000 in hopes of thwarting German attacks. America built more than 88,000 tanks. Some Soviet tanks were so shoddy that they immediately broke down following production.


Which country built the most aircraft during the war?

American industry went into hyperspeed during WWII, manufacturing about 325,000 planes — that’s nearly as many as Germany (190,000) and the USSR (157,000) combined.


What did the Germans do during the "Blitz"?

Hitler, incensed at Britain’s unyielding resolve during the Battle of Britain, resorted to full-scale bombardment of major British cities. The "Blitz" leveled parts of city areas and killed tens of thousands of civilians. But still, the British carried on.


The "Winter War" refers to the USSR’s invasion of which country?

Twice, the USSR invaded Finland during WWII, and twice they regretted doing so. The Fins inflicted massive casualties on the Soviets during the intermittent Winter War.


True or false, did Japan have more warships than any other country in the war?

False. Even though it’s an island country, Japan had only around 260 warships. The United States? More than 1,400.


What was the purpose of the German American Bund?

In the late 1930s, the Nazis tried to spread their message of hatred in the U.S., in part through a group called the German American Bund. Media and political pressure caused the group’s dissolution in 1941.


How did Adolf Hitler commit suicide?

Faced with certain capture in Berlin, Hitler took the easy way out. He chomped a cyanide capsule (for insurance) and then shot himself in the head. The Furher’s war was over.


Sumo Hayha was a Finnish sniper in WWII. How many Soviet troops did he kill?

The Russians called him "White Death" for a reason. Hayha killed more than 500 Soviet troops in WWII — more sniper kills than anyone, ever.


True or false, were any American troops killed in combat after the war officially ended?

On August 18, 1945, days after Japan surrendered, Anthony J. Marchione’s plane was struck by Japanese fighter pilots who violated the cease-fire agreement. He was the last American airman killed in WWII.


Which U.S. state accounted for most of America’s WWII casualties?

More than 30,000 New Yorkers were killed or wounded in WWII, more than any other state. Alaska, in comparison, had around 90 casualties.


How many chemical attacks were there during WWII?

After the widespread use of chemical agents during WWI, these weapons lost favor in WWII. There were no recorded chemical attacks in the Second World War.


BEFORE America dropped two atomic bombs on Japan, how many man-made nuclear blasts had human beings created?

The Manhattan Project yielded one nuclear bomb test. After that, the U.S. rushed the bomb into production — and the next two atomic blasts in human history went straight to Japan.


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