One of the issues with the proliferation of community-driven content is, not to put too delicate of a point on it, the rise of the bullsh*t artist.
The anonymous nature of the internet has made it easier for people to use “trust me, bro” as their primary source when it comes to allegedly true war stories.
When it comes to war stories, however, it’s vital that we can trust the source of information and that we know what we’re being told to be true.
That’s why it’s important to find websites, forums, and YouTube channels that are trustworthy and reliable.
John_Rambo_1969 might well have slain 12 VC singlehandedly during the Tet Offensive, but how can you be sure he’s telling the truth?
By ensuring that he’s found in one of the following places. Below, you’ll find the best places on the internet for true online war stories – where you can be reasonably sure that people are who they say they are and that their stories are on the level.
The Telling Project
This fascinating stage-performance project offers a unique way of listening to the story of US veterans in a manner that you might not necessarily expect.
Stage plays are, after all, not the sort of forum traditionally given to the kind of raw, authentic experiences that many veterans have been through.
The Telling Project aims to change that. By giving a voice to US veterans on the stage, they have worked to ensure that as many people as possible are able to listen to the untold stories of soldiers who have been injured in action or who are suffering from PTSD.
The project is beneficial to both the veterans themselves and their audience. The former is able to gain some form of catharsis by sharing their stories, and the latter gets a chance to know what it’s really like to go to war, all the glitz of the Hollywood propaganda machine aside.
Reddit is perhaps one of the most egregious offenders when it comes to platforming those bullshit artists we spoke about at the beginning of this article.
But at its best, Reddit acts as a sort of community-sourced newspaper, where the stories come from real people with real experiences.
And that’s exactly what you get on r/MilitaryStories.
The very best subreddits are heavily moderated in order to clear out spam and any obvious bullshit, and that’s very much the case with r/MilitaryStories.
Only first- or second-hand stories are allowed, and in either case, they must be specified as such.
Any “a friend of a friend” war anecdotes are rapidly removed, and if the mods suspect a story isn’t quite on the level, they’ll quickly remove it.
What you’re left with, then, is some highly engaging (and often distressing) stories of actual vets who’ve been on the frontlines.
There are even one or two historical stories that come about from conversations with elderly relatives who were involved in conflicts like WW2, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
Eyewitness To History
This educational website presents historical events through the eyes of those who lived it. By using first-hand accounts only, you can be assured that you’re getting as raw an unfiltered story as is humanly possible.
Some of the stories presented on the website go back more than a thousand years, like, for instance, the tale of Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon and thus instigating civil war with Rome.
However, some are from more modern conflicts and paint a vivid and compelling tale of events as told by the people who lived through them.
The website hasn’t been updated in around eight years, unfortunately, but the stories that remain on there are some of the best true war stories you’ll find online.
When searching for grim and gritty war stories, chances are that the genteel – and, some might say, snobby – US magazine The New Yorker is probably not the first place you’d think to look.
However, in 2006 they published letters from soldiers serving in Afghanistan and Iraq that documented their lives during the Middle Eastern conflicts of the 2000s.
The results are often difficult to read, frequently shocking, but never anything less than compelling.
The letters came about as a result of Operation Homecoming, which was an initiative sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Operation Homecoming sent some 50 distinguished writers to Iraq and Afghanistan to give soldiers writing workshops in order to give them the tools they needed to document their experiences.
The resultant letters were not only powerful and hard-hitting in their authenticity but further enhanced by the vivid prose that the soldiers – people not traditionally assumed to be particularly strong writers – used to sketch their worlds for the people back home.
Voices of the First World War
The BBC is, unfortunately, notorious for not always preserving its own history – let alone that of others.
But they do sometimes get it right, and they certainly did so with Voices of the First World War, an archived podcast that dives deep into one of the 20th century’s most devastating conflicts to get the truth from people who were on the frontlines.
The result is a sobering, often harrowing experience. We’re all aware of the horrors of WWI on some level, but listening to the men who were actually in those trenches takes things to a new level and can make for some truly difficult listening.
With 28 episodes in total detailing various battles and events of WWI, there is no finer archive of first-hand accounts of the Great War.
And the best thing? It’s entirely free to listen to the entire series.
There Are Still Bastions of True War Stories Online
While the internet may have become a quagmire of disinformation and half-truths in many quarters, there still exists havens of truth and authenticity, and the five true-war sites we’ve enumerated above are perfect examples of this.
Whether you’re interested in learning about the Second Gulf War or WWI, these resources are invaluable for listening to real soldiers talk about their real experiences. Just be prepared for some truly shocking anecdotes.