In May 1940, the German unit was attacking toward a village near Bethune, France. Five German soldiers took cover behind a farmyard wall, sheltered from the fire of British rearguards covering the retreat of the British Expeditionary Force to the English Channel.
Without warning, one German crumpled, the feathered tip of an arrow sticking out of his chest. From a small farm building on their flank, rifle-fire tore into the others.
It was the formidable Captain Jack Churchill’s arrow that skewered the unlucky German, while his men’s rifles accounted for the rest.
Dubbed as “Mad Jack”, Churchill was not a Viking warrior or a medieval knight. He was a British Army officer who fought during World War II. While everyone else was firing rifles and loading their tanks, Jack preferred some good old fashioned hand to hand combat. In addition to his sword, he occasionally used a longbow.
Born in 1906, Churchill’s life was badass from the beginning. His father was appointed the Director of Public Works in Hong Kong and the family followed him to Asia where they lived until 1917.
During this time, Churchill got his first taste of adventure. He would often explore the rural areas around the city. When his family moved back to their native England, the desire to explore continued.
Churchill entered the Royal Military College in Sandhurst and graduated in 1926, moving to Burma with the Manchester Regiment. While in Burma, he rode his motorcycle up and down almost the entire country, exploring what it had to offer. He also learned to play the bagpipes while there.
In 1936, his sense of adventure became too great for the Army and he left, moving to Nairobi, Kenya. While in Nairobi, he worked as a newspaper editor and a male model.
He also put his archery and bagpipe skills to work during his time as an actor as he competed in the military piping competition, taking second place and the World Archery Championships, in Oslo, Norway.
After Germany invaded Poland, he resumed his post in the British Army, this time as part of the Britsh Expeditionary Force to France.
During one of his forces raids, he ambushed a German patrolman, shooting him with a barbed arrow. His shot earned him the title of the only British soldier to have felled an enemy with a longbow during the war.
After serving in the British Expeditionary Force, Churchill volunteered for the Commandos, a special forces division dedicated to carrying out raids against German-occupied areas of Europe. As a commando, Churchill gained notoriety for charging into battle, playing the bagpipes, and throwing grenades.
Churchill led the Commandos across Europe from Norway to Italy to Yugoslavia, armed with his longbow, bagpipes, and a Scottish broadsword. At one point, he marched through Sicily with only his sword while managing to capture 42 German soldiers. Churchill was awarded the Military Cross and Bar for his service with the division.
After his time in active duty military, he moved to Australia where he became an instructor for a military school. It was also where he took up surfing and studied the techniques. Eventually, Churchill realized it was time to slow down and at the age of 53 in 1959, he officially retired from the Army.
In 1996, at the age of 89, Mad Jack passed away, leaving behind his legacy as one of the most eccentric badasses of all time. From motorcycle adventurer to Nazi hunter to surfer, he lived quite the life.