Certainly war can bring out both the best and the worst in people. There were lots of urban legends (sometimes AKA bullshit stories) about atrocities. The version of the story you told that I heard was a pop-flare. Sticks of dynamite are not military explosives.
Could these stories be based upon something that actually happened? They could, but I doubt that they occurred with the frequency people believe thanks to the number of people telling them as if they were their own story. Some probably never happened.
The problematic issue is that it leads to ideas like [X]-cultures where isolated incidents are thought to be the norm. I’m not claiming that we were choirboys, but we were not a bunch of sadistic rapists and that was not our culture. This is not to excuse rapists, if I had caught one I might have shot him myself and I doubt that I am unique in that regard.