With the exception of Wayne Hennessey, pretty much everybody knows the general narrative of World War II from a combination of school history classes and films. The Nazi Party, led by Adolf Hitler, gradually took control of Germany, annexing Austria and Czechoslovakia before turning their attentions to Poland. This was where the United Kingdom and France drew the line, but they were swiftly overcome by Blitzkrieg, fleeing the European mainland at Dunkirk.
The British then clung on in conflicts such as the Battle of Britain and the Desert Campaign as Hitler turned his attention towards Russia, whilst the Japanese declared war on America with their attack on Pearl Harbour.
From there, the tide began to turn for the Allied forces. In the Pacific, an island-by-island campaign gradually subdued the Japanese, culminating in the dropping of atomic bombs on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. In Europe, the Russians pushed back towards Germany from Stalingrad before troops landed in Normandy to create a second European front, eventually resulting in Hitler’s suicide and the horrifying discovery of the Holocaust that his instruments of terror had engineered.
There are hundreds if not thousands of smaller stories that contribute to that brief summary, many of which have never been told on the big screen and exist only in books, diaries and archives, now that the vast majority of the generation that fought in and lived through the conflict are no longer with us.
Here are twelve that are deserving of more widespread knowledge here in the UK and beyond.