• Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

How British soldier ‘Mad Jack Churchill’ shot 42 Nazis with just a sword

ByMary M. Ward

May 21, 2022


In this article:

  • Mad Jack Churchill, as he would be known, was a British soldier who fought in World War II. His claim to fame was that he always carried a sword, a bow and arrow and a bagpipe.
  • During a battle in Sicily, he is believed to have captured 42 Nazi soldiers using only his sword.
  • In another battle in Norway, he apparently charged from his position, playing bagpipes and throwing grenades at the same time.
  • Eventually, Mad Jack was captured and taken to a concentration camp. Fortunately, he dug a tunnel and escaped a few days later.

There are people throughout history who look more like fantasy characters or comic book superheroes than real human beings. Most of us wake up at a reasonable hour, do our work, eat, watch Netflix, and fall asleep for the night.

Others grab life by the balls, fear nothing, and accomplish more great deeds in a week than most of us could accomplish in several lifetimes.

John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill was one of those exceptional human beings. His life was amazing from the cradle to the grave and some of the things he did look like they came from the script of a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Yes, the world’s most interesting man in those Dos Equis commercials has to watch his back because Mad Jack Churchill was a movie star, war hero, model, expert archer, avid bagpipe player and so much more .

Seriously, it’s pretty baffling how so many badass can fit in one human body. In fact, the life of Mad Jack Churchill is so incredible that it cannot be fiction.

As a soldier, he is credited with being the last confirmed kill with a bow and arrow in warfare and he captured 42 Nazi soldiers using only a sword. His famous slogan, “Any officer who goes into action without his sword is poorly dressed”, has been ingrained in military tradition forever.

Outside of his military career, Churchill competed in the World Archery Championship, was the first man to surf the River Severn (using a board he designed himself) and even appeared in three films.

Jack Churchill mad soldier

And these are just the highlights of Mad Jack Churchill’s life.

Once we get into the details of his military escapades, his adventurous journeys to foreign lands, and his various other displays of bravery, you will see how truly amazing Mad Jack Churchill’s life was.

The badass beginnings of Mad Jack Churchill

Before he was Mad Jack Churchill, he was John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, born in the city of Colombo in British Ceylon (the colony that is now Sri Lanka) to his mother Elinor and father Alec.

Shortly after Jack’s birth, the family moved to Dormansland, Surrey, England, and lived there until Alec obtained a post as Director of Public Works in British Hong Kong in 1910. Then , in 1917, the family returned to England.

Jack Churchill first attended King William’s College on the Isle of Man. Later, he graduated from the Royal Military College, Sandhurst in 1926 and began his military career in Burma with the Manchester Regiment.

Although there are no legendary military stories from Churchill’s time in Burma, he is said to have rode his motorbike almost the entire length of the country. It was also in Burma that Churchill learned to play the bagpipes.

fight jack churchill

In 1936, Jack Churchill left the army and moved to Nairobi, Kenya to work as a male editor and model. He also worked his way into an acting career, making an appearance in the 1938 film A Yank in Oxford.

In 1939 he represented Great Britain at the World Archery Championships in Oslo, Norway.

So in that short time, Churchill had already been a soldier, journalist, model, actor, and professional archer. You would think that would be enough adventure and fulfillment for a lifetime.

However, Churchill would truly find his way to glory when he re-enlisted in the British Expeditionary Force in 1940 and was sent to France to fight the Nazis.

Mad Jack Churchill gains military glory

The first instance that cemented Churchill’s place in military history was when he and some of his men ambushed a German patrol near L’Epinette. Churchill, still armed with a broadsword and a longbow, raised his sword and commanded the attack.

During the scuffle, Churchill took out a German commander, firing a barbed arrow and killing him. It was the last ever recorded kill with a bow and arrow in warfare.

After fighting in the famous Battle of Dunkirk, Jack Churchill began volunteering in the Commandos Brigade alongside his younger brother Thomas Churchill. After the war, Thomas Churchill wrote a book called Commando Crusade detailing many of his brother’s military exploits.

fight jack churchill

According to the book, during a raid in Vagsøy, Norway in 1941, Jack Churchill jumped from his position and began playing “March of the Cameron Men” on his bagpipes while hurling grenades at enemy forces.

After this incident, Churchill led commandos throughout Europe, fighting in Norway, Italy and Yugoslavia, while carrying his Scottish broadsword, longbow and bagpipes.

During an engagement in Sicily, Churchill was ordered to capture a German observation post outside the town of Molina. Using only his broadsword, he and a corporal captured the post and took 42 prisoners.

Catch and release

During his campaign in Yugoslavia, Churchill and his commandos were ordered to capture the island of Brač. However, after unexpected resistance, only Churchill and six others were able to reach the objective.

Then a mortar shell killed or injured everyone except Churchill. When German troops arrived to capture survivors, they found Churchill playing “Will Ye No Come Back Again?” on his bagpipes.

Captured by German troops, Churchill was brought to Sachsenhausen concentration camp for questioning as they believed he might be related to Winston Churchill.

However, just days after being captured, Churchill and another officer escaped by crawling through a tunnel under a chain-link fence they had dug in secret, and then down an abandoned drain.

crazy jack churchill jack

Outside the camp, Churchill and the other officer began to march towards the Baltic coast. But they were captured a short distance from the sea and sent to another concentration camp in Tyrol.

Eventually Churchill and other prisoners from the camp were freed, at which point Churchill traveled 93 miles to Verona, Italy to meet an American unit.

Even after being captured twice, Mad Jack Churchill agreed to keep fighting and was sent to Burma to continue fighting the Pacific War. When the war suddenly ended with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Churchill seemed unhappy that the fighting had to stop, saying, “If it hadn’t been for those damn Yanks, we would have been able to continue the war for another 10 years!”

Crazy Jack Churchill to the rescue

Even after the end of the Second World War, Mad Jack Churchill’s thirst for adventure was not satisfied. Thus, he obtained a parachute qualification and joined the Seaforth Highlanders and was sent to Mandatory Palestine (a geopolitical entity created by the League of Nations). And, in 1948, he was involved in another conflict.

Jack Churchill was one of the first people on the scene when a Hadassah medical convoy was attacked by Arab forces.

Despite orders not to get involved in the conflict, Churchill and his men provided covering fire against the Arab forces. Unfortunately, many doctors in the convoy were massacred.

After the massacre, Churchill and his men headed to Hebrew University’s Hadassah Hospital and organized the evacuation of over 700 doctors, students and patients. Had they not been evacuated, the Arab forces might have massacred them as well.

after the battles

After retiring from the military for good (and winning numerous awards), Mad Jack Churchill went on to be a badass general. In 1952 he played a minor role in the 1952 MGM produced film Ivanhoe.

He also moved to Australia for a bit and taught at a military school there. It was in Australia that he found his love for surfing. And, after returning to his home country of England, he became the first ever person to surf the tidal bore of the River Severn.

Mad Jack Churchill surfing

Another hilarious and eccentric story about Mad Jack Churchill is that he apparently threw his briefcase out of a train car window every time he came home from work.

When the train conductors asked him why he had done this, he told them that he threw it in his garden so that he did not have to transport it from the station to his home. That’s exactly the kind of madman Churchill was.

Mad Jack Churchill died aged 89 in 1996 in Surrey County.