World War II is a defining period of the twentieth century. It had brought the world to its knees with thousands of casualties, billions of dollar-worth of infrastructure destruction, and a catalyst of trauma that would affect generations to come. It was a dark time, plagued with fear, chaos, violence, and deaths on a scale that had never been seen before. Despite this, many have risen to the occasion, both combatants and non-combatants alike, to fight against evil and reinstate peace.

While much has been written about successful campaigns and decisive battles by brilliant and venerable high-ranking officials, what made the Second World War ultimately see its end likewise can be greatly attributed to the millions of young, ordinary teens and young adults who gave up their youth to fight for freedom and peace across the globe.

Here are some incredible, courageous tales of soldiers who fought and made a significant impact during the world’s deadliest war in history.

ww2 heroes
(From left to right) Lachhiman Gurung, Adrian Carton de Wiart, and Calvin Leon Graham. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Lachhiman Gurung

The man who single-handedly took out 200 enemy soldiers, literally—considering the Nepalese-British Gurkha (synonymous with “Nepali”)—had only one hand after losing the other from a grenade explosion.