These chilling images were taken during London’s Great Smog of ’52. For four days the city of London was blanketed by a poisonous smog that reduced visibility to a few yards and led to an estimated 12,000 fatalities.
John Clem: A few months shy of ten years old, John Clem ran away from home to join the Union Army and fight in the American Civil War. Although he started out as a drummer boy, at the point this picture was taken he had served in combat and was already a Sergeant at twelve years old. He became famous for shooting a Confederate soldier who demanded that he surrender. Years later would retire from the military as a Brigadier General.
King Haakon of Norway led his country in honorable resistance to the Third Reich. He refused to institute Hitler's handpicked leader for a Nazi puppet government, and instead fled Oslo to London to eventually lead a government in exile. He broadcast over the radio throughout the war, and returned home a hero after the war.
The bear, named Wojtek, reportedly even fought alongside his fellow Polish soldiers at the savage Battle of Monte Cassino in the spring of 1944, carrying heavy crates of mortar shells. With the approval of the Polish high command, the company's emblem was then changed to one showing a bear carrying a massive artillery shell. After the war, Wojtek lived in Edinburgh Zoo until his death in 1963. Books, statues and even a documentary keep the memory of his unique service alive.
A day before Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his Berlin bunker, Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini met a more public end. He and his mistress, Clara Petacci were caught by partisans while trying to flee into Switzerland. On April 29, 1945, the two were shot to death in the small village of Giulino di Mezzegra. Their corpses were then taken to the Piazzale Loreto in Milan and strung up on meat hooks above a gas station. Crowds threw stones at the bodies for several days.