World War II saw a plethora of weapon advancements. While most soldiers were concerned with engaging their enemies more effectively from a distance, one man stuck with time tested tools of war – the bow & arrow and sword. He regularly carried a basket-hilted Scottish broadsword in his hand while leading his men into battle. He is quoted as once saying, “Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”
Lieutenant Colonel Jack “Mad Jack” Churchill of the British Army is regarded as one the greatest warriors of all time. During World War II he recorded what is thought to be the last confirmed bow and arrow kill in modern warfare, killing a [censored] NCO in France in 1940. The archery shot signaled the rest of his men to launch an attack on the [censored] patrol. Prior to his service in WW2, Churchill was the archery champion of Great Britain and represented his country in the world championships.
To signal the start of a raid on a German garrison in Norway in 1941, Churchill leapt out his position playing “March of the Cameron Men” on the bagpipes before tossing a grenade at the enemy position and getting into the fight.
JackchurchillChurchill’s bagpipe playing would come back to haunt him though. In 1944, Churchill was playing “Will Ye No Come Back Again?” for his men as German troops advanced on their position. A mortar shell struck nearby and killed or wounded everyone except Churchill. However, he was captured by German forces, interrogated in Berlin, then transferred to a concentration camp. Churchill managed to escape the camp by crawling under barbed wire and through a drainage pipe. He was then captured again.
As the war began to end, Churchill and his fellow prisoners feared they would be executed by the SS troops who were guarding them. However, a moral German commander forced the SS troops to back off and released the prisoners after reading the writing on the wall about the war’s end. Following his release, Churchill walked 93 miles to Verona before meeting up with a unit of American troops.
Following WW2, Churchill remained in the British Army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. He was eventually transferred to a training position in Australia where he took up surfing, even designing his own surfboard. In England, he would become the first person to surf the River Severn’s tidal bore.
Churchill died in 1996 at the age of 89. According to his obituary:
His exploits – charging up beaches dressed only in a kilt and brandishing a dirk, killing with a bow and arrow, playing the bagpipes at moments of extreme peril – and his legendary escapes won him the admiration and devotion of those under his command, who nicknamed him “Mad Jack”.
Churchill believed an assault leader should have a reputation which would at once demoralise the enemy and convince his own men that nothing was impossible. He was awarded two DSOs and an MC, and mentioned in despatches.