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Cool People

Mad Jack Churchill

"Any officer who goes into battle without his sword is improperly dressed."

John Malcolm Fleming Thorpe Churchill was a British Commando who fought in WWII. He is known for having used unconventional weapons, a sword and bow. Popular belief is that he carried a claymore, greatsword, or broadsword of some kind, and you see a lot of sites claiming that he wielded a two handed Scottish sword. This is completely false however, as it is pretty easily apparent that he in fact carried a smallsword, likely a claybeg, as you can see in this image.

Mad Jack is the figure on the far right who is walking in a very badass way while holding a sword in his right hand. This photo was taken during a training exercise.

It is likely Mad Jack used a bow around 40-50 pounds, which is fairly light compared to medieval long bow standards. Armor piercing bows used in the 16th century would have been more than 100 pounds, which would enable them to pierce plate armor. As it was uncommon to wear plate armor during WWII, a 100 pound bow was completely unnecesarry, and Mad Jack probably had no issue shooting unarmored Nazis with it. Mad Jack joined the army in 1926, and served in Burma, where he enjoyed riding his motorcycle. He got out of the army in 1936, and worked as a newspaper editor in Kenya. Supposedly he was also a male model during that time, but I have yet to find substantial evidence supporting that. During this time he acted in two movies as un-credited side characters, A Yank at Oxford(1938), and The Thief of Bagdag(1924). In both movies he uses his archery and bagpipe skills. In 1938 he got second place in a military bagpiping competition, which made quite a few Scottish mad because a whole bunch of Scottish had just been beaten at bagpiping by a brit. Mad Jack competed on behalf of Britain in the 1939 World Archey Championships. Later that year he rejoined the army, and a few months later volunteered to join the Commandos. He was second in command of the No. 3 Commando in the raids on Vågsøy in 1941. In 1943 he was commanding officer of No. 2 Commando, in the landings at Catania and Salerno. He was ordered to capture a German observation post outside Molina; Jack and his Corporal infiltrated the post, convinced the Germans that they were surrounded, and then returned with 42 new German prisoners. He later went back to retrieve his sword, which he had lost in hand to hand combat. On his way there he encountered an American patrol that was mistakenly walking toward enemy lines, and tried to convince them of their mistake. The Americans refused to listen, so he told them that they would be on their own if they kept going, because he would not be coming back "a bloody third time". During a campain in Yugoslavia, Mad Jack was leading the Commandos to capture a Nazi occupied hill. All the Commandos except Jack were killed by mortars, and so he did the only reasonable thing, and started playing "Will Ye No Come Back Again" on his bagpipes, and did not stop until the Nazis knocked him out with grenades. The Germans believed he was related to Winston Churchill, so they sent him to Berlin for interrogation. It was discovered he was not in any way related to the British Prime Minister, so he was sent to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp. He promptly snuck out by digging a tunnel, and started walking 120 miles to the Baltic Sea. He was recaptured only a few miles from the coast, and was then sent to a camp in Tyrol, Italy. He attempted to set the plane that carried him there on fire, but the fire was discovered before it burned enough. After arriving in Tyrol, he crawled under a fence during a lighting system failure, and started walked nearly 150 miles, surviving off of whatever food he could steal from Nazi occupied farms, before he was picked up by an American armoured unit. WWII was drawing to a close, just as Jack was sent to Burma to fight the Japanese. To his disapointment, the atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima only a few days before he arrived. He is quoted as saying, "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years!"

Adrian Carton De Wiart

"Frankly, I enjoyed the war."

Adrian Carton De Wiart was born in Britain, to Belgian and Irish parents. He was raised comfortably, his father was a lawyer, and Adrian eventually studied law at Oxford. Near the beginning of the second Boer war, Adrian quit his studies, and joined the British Army. Adrian claimed to be 25, and he went under the name of "Trooper Carton," when he was in fact younger than 20. During the first Boer war Adrian sustained several injuries, and was sent home after being deemed unfit to fight. His father was furious that he had abandoned his studies, but allowed him to remain in the army. Near the beginning of the First World War, adrian was fighting a small war in Somaliland, during which war he was shot twice in the face, once in the eye and once in the ear. During the First and Second World Wars, Adrian became known as a fearless leader, who was never afraid to charge into what was a literal blizzard of steel. His fearlessness earned him many injuries, and he eventually lost a hand. One particular injury he sustained, which I find interesting is when he was shot in the hand and wrist. According to his own writings, he had decided to wear a watch on that particular day, even though he usually didn't wear one. He was shot in the left hand and wrist, so badly the that two of his fingers were barely hanging on and the watch was mangled into his wrist. When he showed his injuries to a surgeon, the surgeon insisted that they could save the fingers, even though Adrian just wanted them to be amputated and the whole ordeal done with. After the surgeons had refused to amputate the fingers, Adrian simply tore them off himself.

Miyamoto Musashi

"A warrior should never die without having drawn all his weapons."

Miyamoto Musashi was a Japanese swordsman, philosopher, and samurai. He was the most successful duelist history has ever seen, having defeated 61 people in duels. Miyamoto was known for using an unusual method of fighting, wielding two swords, instead of one. Miyamoto believed that since swordsmen at the time generally carried two swords, there is no reason not to use them both at the same time. Miyamoto eventually described his style of fighting in his book, The Book of Five Rings, which is a great book that you should definitely read. He was also an accomplished philosopher, and his second book, The Path of Aloneness, details his method of philosophy. Musashi's first duel was when he was 13, before he had started studying combat. A young swordsman in his town had issued a challenge to anyone who would want to duel him, and young Miyamoto was the first to accept the challenge. His uncle tried to stop him, and he had promised his uncle that he would go back on his acceptance of the challenge. Instead, when he met the yound swordsman for a duel, he charged forward with a quarterstaff, and knocked his opponent to the ground, before bashing his head in with the end of the staff.

Joachim Meyer

"In recent times the ignoble gun has arisen and so taken the upper hand, that by its agency the most manly and skilled hero can be suddenly robbed of his life sometimes even by the pettiest and most timid men."

Joachim meyer was a self described Freifechter(German for free-fencer), who lived in what was then the Free Imperial City of Strasbourg during the 16th century. Meyer is the author of the book Gründtliche Beschreibung der Kunst des Fechtens, meaning in English, "A Thorough Description of the Art of Fencing." His book is considered one of the most comprehensive and complete works detailing the German school of fencing. Meyer is generally understood to be among the foremost masters of the Kunst des Fechtens. The book describes the traditional forms of combat in the German school, including(but not limited to) longsword, dagger, rapier, quarterstaff, and wrestling. Not much is known about his life, although we know that he made a living as a professional fencer in Strasbourg, until the publishing of his book in 1570 left him in deep debt. He left Strasbourg to work as a Master-of-Arms at the court of the Duke of Schwerin, but died shortly after his arrival there in February 24th, 1570, exactly one year after the publishing of the book that would make him famous.

Albert Severin Roche

"In an hour I shall be shot, but I assure you that I am innocent."

Albert Severin Roche was a French soldier who fought in WWI, and became known as the First Soldier of France, for his outstanding service to his country. Albert was born on March 5, 1895. In 1913, he volunteered to join the army and was rejected because he was too small. His Father was happy about this. In 1914, Albert packed his bags and ran away, and again attempted to join the army in a different town. This time he was accepted. On the third of July 1915 he was assigned to the 27th Battalion of Chasseurs Alpins, who had been nicknamed the blue devils by the Germans. In one instance, Albert volunteered to take a German occupied blockhouse, so he crept up to it with grenades. He noticed that all the Germans were huddled around a fire in one corner of the building, so he climbed up the roof and dropped some grenades down the chimney, killing most of the Germans, and leaving the survivors believing they had been attacked by a large force. Albert returned with captured machine guns and eight German prisoners. Another time, albert was defending a position from a German attack, and noticed he was the last man alive. He used his dead comrades' guns and alternated fire, which made the Germans believe that the position was still strongly defended, and they eventually retreated. In the second battle of Aisne, his captain was badly wounded and trapped in no man's land. For six hours Albert crawled through mud and trenches, while under fire, to get the man. He then spent another 4 to crawl back, after which he was so exhausted that he fell asleep. A patrol mistook him for having abandoned his post and started sleeping, which was then punishable by execution. Albert was to be shot, and so he wrote a letter to his father explaining how he would be shot, but was innocent. As he was being brought before a firing squad, a messender came telling of how Alberts commander had awoken from a coma and had verified that Albert was in fact innocent. At the end of the war, Albert's service record was found by Ferdinand Foch, who was angry that Albert had done so much but still had no rank. Foch then presented Albert as a hero, saying, "Alsatians, I present to you your liberator Albert Roche. He is the first soldier of France!" Albert retired from the army, and lived a peaceful life, until he was hit by a car at the age of 44, and died shortly after. He is buried at square 40, north row, grave 15 of the Saint-Veron cemetery in Avignon, in Vaucluse.