In WWII, Reindeer Were Our Animal Allies
Of World War II's many fronts, the one you've probably never heard about was the theater of war in the Arctic. Combat there centered around a crucial supply route that stretched from North America to the Russian port city of Murmansk, across the border from the northern tip of Norway.
"It was not the easiest route," U.S. Naval historian Tim Francis tells NPR's David Greene. And it might have been impossible if it weren't for help from some of Santa's friends.
About 25 percent of war supplies and munitions manufactured in North America were shipped across the Arctic to America's Soviet allies in the war. The supply route was under constant siege from the harsh elements — and from German enemies.
"German planes would fly out of Norway. Battleships would attack on the surface. And then you had U-boats that could attack from undersea," Francis says. "So they were being attacked from all three directions."
The Allies lost maybe 100 ships on that route, he ads, carrying everything from trucks to cigarette rolling papers. But the supplies that made it to port in Murmansk still needed to be hauled to the battlefront.
Bring in the reindeer.
Listen to full story: http://www.npr.org/player/v2/mediaPl...34&m=139625815