Battle of Berlin: Facts About the World War II Conflict

Here are some facts about the Battle of Berlin.

  • The Battle of Berlin took place during the last days of World War II, from April 16th to May 2nd, 1945. It was the last major battle in Europe during the war.

  • The Russian leader Stalin was anxious to reach Berlin before the British and American soldiers. He wanted to make sure Russia gained land and also wanted control of a nuclear research site.
  • Stalin’s plan was to completely surround Berlin and then attack it. Once the city was surrounded, the bunker in which Adolf Hitler and the other German leaders were hiding could be attacked.
  • About 2.25 million men were in the Russian armies that marched on Berlin. The Russians also had over 6,000 tanks, over 7,000 aircraft, and 95,000 vehicles.
  • During the battle, large areas of Berlin were destroyed. A million residents were made homeless, many of them existing on about 60 percent of their recommended daily calorie intake.
  • One of the heaviest bombings of Berlin took place on April 20th, which was Adolf Hitler’s birthday. More explosives were dropped on Berlin during the battle by the Allies than any other point during World War 2.

Battle of Berlin

  • About 81,000 Russian soldiers died during the Battle of Berlin, with about 280,000 wounded. The number of German casualties is estimated at between 100,000 to 450,000, and thousands of civilians also lost their lives.
  • The Battle of Berlin led to the German leader, Adolf Hitler, committing suicide. Germany surrendered on May 7th, a few days after the battle had ended.
  • Over a million Russian soldiers were awarded a medal commemorating the capture of Berlin.

Battle of Berlin - WW2

  • Each year on May 2nd, Poland commemorates the Polish soldiers who fought in the battle.
  • Berlin has several monuments and memorials to the soldiers who died during the battle. Some houses in the city still have bullet holes from the battle, which are never repaired.

Douglas Bader: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Douglas Bader.

  • Douglas Bader was a World War II fighter ace and a pilot in the RAF. He is best known for flying despite having lost both his legs in an accident.
  • Bader was born in London in February, 1910. He enjoyed sports at school and once shot his younger brother with an air gun while angry.

  • He joined the RAF in 1928 and became known for his daredevil flying stunts. During one of these he crashed and had to have both legs amputated and artificial legs fitted.
  • In 1932 he was able to fly again, although he took an office job in London. He also recovered enough to be able to play golf, drive a car and dance.
  • When World War II began, Douglas Bader again joined the RAF. He crashed a plane while taking off but was later put in command of his own Spitfire squadron.

Douglas Bader

  • His plane was shot down over France in 1941, but he was able to escape by parachuting out. He was a prisoner of war in Colditz Castle for 3 years.
  • Bader is credited with shooting down over 20 enemy aircraft during the war and damaging several others. During his life he flew over 5,700 hours in both wartime and peace time.
  • The 1956 film Reach For The Sky, starring Kenneth More is based on Douglas Bader’s life. It won an award for best British film that year and was also the most popular film the same year.
  • The RAF museum warehouse in Stafford has one of Bader’s artificial legs. The other one was sold in a 2008 auction along with several other items belonging to Bader.
  • Douglas Bader died in 1982 of a heart attack, possibly caused by overworking. A German fighter pilot Adolf Galland, was at the funeral; he and Bader had known each other for 42 years.

The Blackout of World War 2: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about the World War 2 blackout:

  • During World War 2, the blackout was a nationwide effort to turn off all lights in towns and cities. It was devised as a defence against German bombers, so they could not be guided by the lights.

  • The blackout was ordered two days before war broke out. London and other large British towns and cities had a blackout, as well as cities in Germany, France and other European countries.
  • Each home was given enough blackout material, which was usually a dark cotton fabric. Putting up and taking down the material quickly became a boring and unwanted daily task for most households.
  • Windows were covered in the dark material. Car headlamps were also blacked out, causing many accidents, and people were not allowed to smoke cigarettes or cigars outdoors.
  • Many small shops had to have an extra door fitted, to stop light from showing when people came in and out of the shop. Some large factories with glass roofs had to paint their entire roof black.
  • Because of the risk of car accidents in the dark, the speed limit was reduced to 20 mph. To help drivers and pedestrians, white lines were painted on roads, which are still there today.
  • The blackout offered some protection against the Blitz, the bombing of Britain that began in 1940..
  • The blackout was enforced by Air Raid Precaution (ARP) wardens, who made sure that no light could be seen from buildings. There were heavy fines for anyone who did not follow the rules.
  • In coastal areas, ships were also blacked out to prevent them from being seen against the shore. It made them less of an obvious target for German submarines.

Adolf Hitler: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about Adolf Hitler.

  • Adolf Hitler was the leader of Germany’s infamous Nazi party, and the Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945. He was also responsible for leading the world into war (a conflict known as World War 2) in 1939.

  • Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria, and was one of 6 children. He died by committing suicide in his bunker, in Berlin, Germany in 1945
  • Hitler rose to power during the Great Depression in Germany during the 1930s. He became leader of the Nazi party in 1921, and eliminated many of his opponents during the next decade.
  • In 1939, Hitler invaded Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, leading to England and France declaring war. In less than 3 years, Germany occupied much of Europe, the Pacific, Southeast Asia and Africa.
  • It’s estimated that Adolf Hitler was responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews, a process known as the Holocaust. In all, Hitler and his army killed approximately 17 million civilians.
  • Hitler loved to watch funny films in his private cinema, including those featuring Jewish comedians.
  • Some historians have suggested that Adlof Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
  • Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian and a non-smoker.
  • He suffered from many diseases, including skin lesions and irregular heartbeat, he took 90 different types of medication during the war.
  • Hitler never took off his coat, regardless of how warm it was. He also never used scents or cologne, and often paced about the room whistling to himself.
  • Mein Kampf (meaning My Struggle) was a book written by Adolf Hitler in 1923, describing his political life and beliefs. In some countries the book is banned, although in America, about 15,000 copies are sold every year.
  • Hitler was a talented and keen artist. Although he was twice rejected by the Fine Arts Academy in Vienna. Today his paintings are valuable.
  • He died by committing suicide in his bunker, in Berlin, Germany in 1945, alongside his wife of only 40 hours, Eva Braun.

10 Spitfire Facts

Here are ten facts about Spitfires.

  • The Spitfire was the most famous fighter aircraft of World War II. It was the only British fighter plane to be in continuous production throughout the war.
  • RJ Mitchell, an engineer at Supermarine Aviation, designed the Spitfire originally to be a high performance, short range plane. The first planes were mass produced in 1938.

  • The name Spitfire was taken from an old English word meaning someone of strong or fiery character. The names Snipe and Shrew were also considered for the plane.
  • The plane weighed almost 2,400 kilograms and had a top speed of 582 kph, although could dive at faster speeds. It was able to climb to a height of almost 7,000 metres in just over 9 minutes.


  • Just over 20,000 Spitfires were built in total. The plane remained in production and active service until 1955.
  • Some of the planes had modifications made to their under the wing mountings. Instead of carrying bombs, the planes could carry two small barrels of beer.The Spitfire played an important role in the Battle of Britain in 1940, in which Germany sought to dominate the air. The Allies won, despite having only 700 aircraft against the 2,000 German planes.
  • Many German pilots actually believed the Spitfire was better than their own planes. One German pilot even asked his commanding officer for a squadron of Spitfires.
  • The Spitfire has featured in many war films, including Battle of BritainMalta Story and Reach for the Sky. Today, there are almost 50 Spitfires left around the world which can still be flown.
  • The Spitfires used in the film Battle of Britain were almost invisible to the camera, as they were so well camouflaged. They had to be filmed against clouds so that they could be seen.

What next? Learn more about World War 2 by visiting our World War 2 resources page.

World War 2 Rationing in Britain: Facts and Information

Here are some facts about rationing during WW2 in Britain.

  • Rationing was officially started on 8th January 1940. It was meant to ensure a fair distribution of food, in short supply due to enemy ships attacking merchant ships, preventing them from bringing supplies (such as sugar, cereals, fruit and meat) to the UK.

  • Ration books were issued to every person (to be stamped by a local shopkeeper when the goods were collected), and a typical weekly ration (for one person) inlcuded: one fresh egg, 2 oz butter, 2 oz tea, 1 oz cheese, 8 oz sugar, 4 rashers of bacon, 4 oz margarine.
  • Cheaper cuts of meat became popular, and people could save their rationing points to purchase other items such as cereals, tinned food, biscuits and dried fruit.
  • Vegetables were not rationed, and the people of Britain were encouraged to grow their own fruit and vegetables.

Dig for Victory

  • Many families reared there own pigs, chickens and rabbits so that they would be able to eat more meat.
  • During WW2 luxury items were in very short supply in Britain. Petrol consumption was limited, and the design of furniture and clothing became much simpler and plain during this period.
  • Things like razor blades, baby bottles, frying pans were almost impossible to get hold of in some areas, even though they weren’t rationed.
  • Due to timber rationing, many houses went without a Christmas tree during WW2.
  • The Ministry of Food was set up to help families make the most of their rations. They provided recipes and advice, demonstrating, for example, how to use powdered eggs and be creative with what was available.
  • Babies, pregnant women and sick people were given additional rations of milk, orange juice and cod liver oil.
  • Rationing continued until 1954, years after WW2 was over.

What next? Discover more about World War 2 by visiting our WW2 resources page.

Battle of Stalingrad Facts

Here are some facts about the Battle of Stalingrad, one of the major conflicts to take place in World War 2.

  • The Battle of Stalingrad was fought between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Both sides were trying to take control of the city of Stalingrad (now named Volgograd). It started on 23rd August 1942 until 2nd February 1943.

  • Many historians consider the Battle of Stalingrad to be one of the bloodiest battles to ever be fought. There were incredibly heavy military and civilian casualties and much of the fighting was carried out at close quarters.
  • While it is largely remembered for the destruction of the German 6th Army, there were well over 1.1 million Soviet causalities as well. At least 40,000 civilians living in the area were killed.
  • Operation Barbarossa was the German plan to quickly defeat the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941. The plan failed and in 1942, Germany made the decision to attack Stalingrad in order to prevent the US sending aid and supplies to the Soviet Union via the Persian corridor. Also because Stalingrad was named after Joseph Stalin the leader of the Soviet Union, it also had symbolic importance.
  • German troops were flanked by armies from its Axis allies. Soldiers from Italy, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and Finland were all involved in the Battle of Stalingrad.
  • At the height of the German occupation of Stalingrad, the German 6th Army controlled nearly 90 percent of the city. The life expectancy of newly arrived Soviet troops was around one day at the point and a Soviet officer would be killed on average within three days.
Battle of Stalingrad
Soviet troops wait for a German attack.
  • Operation Uranus was the successful plan by the Soviet Red Army to focus their attacks on the weaker German flanks. The Red army managed to surround the German 6th Army.
  • Adolf Hitler personally ordered the German 6th Army to remain and fight. In the end (despite efforts to air drop supplies to the cornered men) the German soldiers ran out of food and ammunition, and, after withstanding the Red Army for nearly two months, they were forced to surrender.
  • In 1945, Stalingrad was given the title Hero City. This marked the heroic actions of the Soviet soldiers who gave their lives to defend the city, and acknowledged how the battle was one of the key turning points of WW2.

What next? Discover more World War 2 facts by visiting our World War 2 resources page.

WW2 Evacuation Facts

Here are some facts about the evacuation of children and mothers from cities to the countryside which took place in Britain during World War 2.

  • The evacuation of children from cities to the countryside in order to keep them safe from air raids began in September 1939.

  • Many of London’s children were sent to Wales, Cornwall or Devon. Children were also evacuated to other rural areas, such as East Anglia.
  • The children who were evacuated were known as evacuees and the families they stayed with in the countryside were called host families.


  • Several thousand children were evacuated overseas to Canada, Australia and the United States.
  • The children travelled on special trains from the city to their host families. Many were too young to understand exactly what was happening and many thought they were going on a holiday. Most of the evacuees were sad to say goodbye to their parents and homes.
  • The evacuees were all given a gas mask and they had food for the journey to the countryside. Every child had a label pinned to their clothing. This label stated the child’s name, home address, school and destination.
  • Although some evacuees didn’t enjoy their evacuation, many of the children adapted really well to country life. They became friends with the local children and, in many cases, stayed in touch with their host family after the end of World War 2.
  • It wasn’t just children who were evacuated. Mothers of very young children, pregnant women, disabled people and some teachers were evacuated. The evacuated teachers stayed in the same village as their evacuated classes.
  • Efforts were made to keep evacuated brothers and sisters together, but this wasn’t always possible.
  • Evacuees and their parents would keep in touch by writing letters to each other.
  • Many of the children who were evacuated in 1939 returned home by 1940 because Britain wasn’t heavily bombed by the Germans in the first months of WW2. When the Blitz began children were sent back to the countryside.

Evacuation Poster

  • It is estimated that over 3 million people (mostly children) were evacuated during World War 2.
  • The official in charge of finding a home for the evacuees was called the Billeting Officer.

What next? Discover more World War 2 facts, learn about how those who remained in Britain’s cities sheltered during air raids, or find out about the Battle of Britain.

The Battle of Britain: Facts and Information

The Battle of Britain was a series of conflicts between Germany and Britain in World War 2. Having defeated France, Germany wanted to invade Britain, but in order to do this, Germany had to destroy Britain’s RAF (Royal Air Force). They attempted to do this with bombing raids.

Here are some facts about the Battle of Britain:

  • The name ‘Battle of Britain’ is taken from a Winston Churchill speech in which he said that “…the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin.”
  • The first German bombing raids took place on 10th July 1940. At first the Luftwaffe (the German Air Force) bombed ships in the English Channel and coastal defences. They then concentrated on destroying the RAF, before turning their attention to the destruction of London (click here to find out more about The Blitz).
  • A key event in the Battle of Britain (known as Battle of Britain Day) took place on 15th September 1940. On this day, Germany launched a massive assault on London and filled the skies with a large number of bombers and fighter planes. The RAF responded, and British planes successfully scattered the bombers and defended London. Germany continued to bomb Britian after 15th September, but the RAF had clearly demonstrated that it wasn’t close to being defeated.
  • The code name for the German invasion of Britain was Operation Sea Lion.
  • The main RAF fighter planes were the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire. The German Luftwaffe fighters were the Messerschmitt Bf110 and Messerschmitt Bf109. The Luftwaffe had more planes than the RAF and their pilots were more experienced. The RAF planes were high performance and they had the advantage of radar, used to detect enemy raids.
  • Herman Goering was in command of the Luftwaffe. Sir Hugh Dowding was head of the RAF.
  • Although exact figures are hard to come by, it is thought that about 1000 RAF planes were shot down in the Battle of Britain. The Luftwaffe lost many more planes than this, perhaps as many as 1800.

What next? Discover more facts about World War 2, learn more about Winston Churchill or find out how the people of Britain sheltered from air raids.