6: WWI’s Wild Deserters
Many urban legends rose up from the Great War, and one of the most unsettling was about the conflict’s wild deserters — men who, according to the accounts, deserted their posts in the war but unable to leave it banded together and lived between the trench lines, in the area known as no-man’s-land. These men were described as ghoulish in appearance and behaved diabolically.
According to the myths, these wild deserters came from the various armies who participated in the conflict – Australians, French, Germans, Austrians, British and Canadian, Italian – though it was quite odd that none came from the American troops. In accounts which could have inspired Night of the Living Dead, these wild deserters were said to live between the trenches across no-man’s-land.
They only came out at night raiding corpses for clothing, rations and weapons. They fought among themselves, and it was said that the occasional gunfire heard across the battlefields at night were from these feral-behaving band.
Legends about these WWI wild deserters was first recounted in the memoir of British cavalry lieutenant Ardern Arthur Hulme Beaman in 1920. Eventually, in the autobiography written by Army Captain Sir Osbert Sitwell, it was stated that after WWI ended and the troops withdrew, these wild deserters were gassed so as not to ravage the countryside.
7: Pippo, the Night Terror Plane of WWII
If WWI teemed with urban legends, so was WWII. And one of the myths that came out during the Second World War was about the night terror plane named Pippo.
The stories about Pippo were prevalent among Italian households. Though not one story tackled about the ghostly plane’s origins, the myths said that Pippo had just always been there flying at night, and the plane was always referred to as a “he.” Pippo wasn’t a harmless ghostly airplane that mothers and fathers would tell their children about once they heard an aircraft flew over their homes during the night.
It was said that Pippo dropped explosive devices, bombed homes and strafed anything underneath him once he passed through villages, towns or cities. It was also said that the sound coming from his engines were unmistakably his own, and once you heard them, you would know it was Pippo.
Nevertheless, no matter how scary Pippo appeared to be in these accounts of him, there are no accepted sources of him within war history. Historians have come to believe that the legends about the night terror plane of WWII sprung up from the real night fighters which operated over Italy like the Bristol Beaufighter or the de Havilland Mosquito.
8: Prague’s Spring-Man, Perak
The Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia resulted to the eight of this list’s war history urban legends, that of Perak, the Spring-Man said to prowl through the streets of Prague during the Second World War.
Perak was the city’s mysterious man who jumped over buildings and across rivers while hiding in the shadows of the city during the night. The supposed existence of this demonic and threatening being dampened the productivity of Prague’s citizens who the Germans used for the production of munitions and other materials for their army.
Soon after stories about Perak the Spring-man circulated, anti-German graffiti began appearing and whenever this was on locations that were impossibly high or inconvenient, they were immediately attributed to the works of the Spring-Man.
According to some, Perak was an American secret agent while others said he was a British paratrooper. There were also those who believed he was a ghost or an acrobat.
It is very interesting to note, though, that the legend and attributes of Perak resembled closely an urban legend character from Victorian Britain, the shadowy Spring-heeled Jack.
9: The Philadelphia Experiment
In the Philadelphia experiment urban legend, it was said that not only was the United States involved in experiments regarding time travel and invisibility but the country’s authorities figured out how these concepts really worked.
Stories surfaced about how the USS Eldridge, a US Navy Destroyer Escort, was made invisible as it was docked in the shipyards in Philadelphia in 1943. Furthermore, the stories went on to relate how not only the ship was made invisible; US scientists also were able to teleport it to the shipyards in Norfolk, Virginia. Reportedly, the ship returned to the Philadelphia shipyards moments later with some accounts adding that it did so with much screaming and mangled crew members.
The stories surrounding the vessel wasn’t true, and the USS Eldridge had a rather sad dull ending for such a vessel involved in an “urban legend” this controversial — it ended in a scrap firm after the Cold War.
10: The Beliye Kolgotky [White Tights] of Russia
One war-related Russian urban legend speaks about the beliye kolgotky or the white tights, women who were beautifully blonde yet very deadly.
Stories about the white tights started circulating during the Chechen Wars and stated how these women were paid to assassinate. Legends gave out their background, too. Accordingly, these beautiful but deadly women were members of a biathlon team and that they were trained for long-distance marathons ending up with killing someone they were ordered and paid to do so.
Furthermore, stories about the white tights said that these women originally came from the Baltic states and that they were born with natural grudges against Russia, thus, making them the perfect killing machines.
The stories went on to say that members of the white tights only wounded regular soldiers. They were trained to kill officers, not with a bullet in the head but with a bullet piercing the groin.
Though the stories about the white tights were far-fetched, they have a ring of truth to them. It is known that even during the Russian Civil War in 1918, Russian authorities have long employed and trained women to be snipers.
Not only were they patient and calculating, but they also could easily infiltrate certain areas especially if they were carrying a child with them.