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10 of The Most Craziest Characters In History You Probably Never Heard of

4. Jack Churchill, who is popularly known as “Mad Jack,” used to go into the battlefields in World War II equipped with a bow, a sword, and a bagpipe. He holds the record of the only confirmed longbow kill in the war.

Jack Churchill
Image credits: War Office/wikipedia, badassoftheweek

Captain John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, aka Jack Churchill, was a British officer who fought in the World War II armed with a broadsword, a bow, and a bagpipe. He was so dangerously old-schooled and unbelievably brave that he was nicknamed “Mad Jack”. He lived by the motto: “Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”

In 1943 outside the city of Molina, Italy, he single-handedly captured 42 German soldiers using only his sword and bow and arrows, and in the process, he lost his sword. He later went back there to retrieve that. He and his troops in the year 1944 were captured by the Germans in Yugoslavia and were sent to a concentration camp. While they were being captured, he kept playing on his bagpipe the folk song “Will Ye No Come Back Again?”. He but managed to escape from there only to be recaptured and sent to Austria. He escaped from there too and walked 150 kilometers to Italy. He met an American officer in Italy who helped him to get back to England.

In 1945 he was sent to Burma to fight against the advancing Japanese, but as he reached India, the war ended with the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Captain Jack Churchill was unhappy that the war had ended and complained that if it weren’t for the Americans, the war could have been continued for 10 more years.

He died in 1996 at 89 years of age. In 2014, the Norwegian Royal Explorers Club published a book about the world’s greatest adventures and he was ranked the greatest. (source)

5. Bill Millin, a Scottish bagpiper, marched up and down playing the bagpipe on the Normandy Beach while men fell around him dead. The Germans didn’t shoot him thinking he had gone mad.

Bill Millin
Image credits: War Office official photographer, Evans, J L /Wikipedia

Bill Millin was a Scottish bagpiper who was born in Canada to a father of Scottish origin. In 1922, when he was three years old, his father moved to Glasgow along with the family where he took the job of a policeman. Millian was therefore raised and educated in Glasgow.

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Before the Second World War had begun, he joined the Territorial Army in Fort William and subsequently volunteered as a commando in 1941. While he was undergoing training at Achnacarry in Fort William, he met Brigadier Simon Christopher Joseph Fraser, the 15th Lord of Lovat, and the 4th Baron of Lovat. Lord Lovat offered him the job of his personal servant. Millin instead insisted that he should be appointed as his personal piper and he was made so.

He is best remembered for playing the bagpipe on the Normandy Beach during D-Day while the Germans fired and men collapsed around him. The Normandy landings, codenamed “Operation Neptune” and popularly known as “D-Day,” that took place on June 6, 1944, and is considered one of the bloodiest events of World War II. It is estimated that about 19,000 soldiers lost their lives that day when the Allied forces invaded Normandy, France that started the liberation of France from the German occupation.

Due to security reasons, the British had restricted the use of bagpipes in the battles, but Lord Lovat ignored the order and told Millian that he should not worry about the command as they both were Scottish and the rule didn’t apply to them. When his troop landed on the shore of Normandy, he started playing his bagpipe. He didn’t run but walked effortlessly concentrated on playing the instrument while the Germans showered mortars and fired at them. Soldiers fell around him but he neither stopped nor cared.

When the battle was won and the Germans were captured, he asked the snipers why they didn’t shoot him. The snipers answered that they had thought he had gone mad. (source)

6. In the year 1859, a man named Joshua Norton declared himself the “Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico.” He ordered the dissolution of the US Congress and even issued his own currency. The restaurants accepted his currency, and 10,000 people attended his funeral.

Emperor Norton
Image credits: Notwist/Wikipedia, BrokenSphere/Wikipedia

Joshua Norton was born in England on February 4, 1818, but grew up in South Africa. When he was 30 years old and had lost both his parents, he arrived in San Francisco to start a new life. Initially, he made a living as a businessman, but due to bad investments in Peruvian Rice, he lost all his fortune and possibly had lost his sanity too. He tried to void his rice contract but lost the lawsuit.

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On September 17, 1859, discontented with inadequacies of legal and political structures and presence of corruption, he decided to take matters in his own hand and declared himself the Emperor of the United States and assumed the title “Emperor Norton I.”He sent letters to the newspapers of the country proclaiming he was the emperor. Many newspapers actually carried the news for a humorous effect, but that was just the beginning of his imperial acts. Soon, he assumed a second title “Protector of Mexico.”

He went on to issue decrees ordering the abolition of the US Congress and summoned the US Army to oust the officials. Both the Army and the Congress chose to ignore him. Further, in 1869, he declared that the Democrat and Republic parties should be abolished. A few of his decrees were but visionary, like the decrees of forming a “League of Nations” and prohibition of conflicts among religious sects.

He issued his own currency which restaurants actually accepted. People in San Francisco generally had a warm approach towards him despite all his erratic and insane acts. People loved him and took care of him. When his clothes begun to look old, people bought him a new uniform suited for an emperor.

On January 8, 1880, Emperor Norton collapsed on a street and died. Reportedly, about 10,000 people attended the funeral held at the expense of the city of San Francisco, and his funeral cortège was five kilometers long. (source)

7. Notorious pirate Benjamin Hornigold once attacked a ship just to take the hats of the people in the ship because, apparently, they got drunk the previous night and threw their own hats away.

Benjamin Hornigold
Image credits: Ben Hornigold/Wikipedia

Benjamin Hornigold operated during the golden age of piracy between the 1650s and 1730s, and though he had a brief career of only about six years starting from 1715, it was but a prolific one.

Nothing much is known about the early life of the notorious pirate, but it assumed that he might have born in Norfolk, England where the surname “Hornigold” is found. He started his career as a small-time looter off the coast of New Providence, a populous Island in the Bahamas. There, he had established a Privateers or Pirates’ Republic and quickly became a menace to the small merchant ships. He progressed quickly, and by 1717, he commanded a 30-gun sailing ship named Ranger. In fact, Ranger was the most heavily armed ship in the Bahamas at that time, and this helped him and his crew of about 350 pirates which he assembled to take control over other ships with impunity.

In March 1717, Hornigold attacked a vessel which was sent to capture pirates by the governor of South Carolina. The attack was so fierce that the crew of the pirate-hunting ship fled for their lives and later reported that Hornigold’s had five vessels in his possession.

“Hornigold” was a name that would send chills down the spines of the crews of the merchant ships, and thus in the year 1717 when he attacked a ship off the coast of Honduras, the terrified merchants begged for their lives. Strangely, Hornigold told them that they should not worry, and the only reason he and his crew had attacked the ship was so that they could take their hats. He explained that the previous night they all had gotten drunk and threw their hats into the sea. Hornigold let the ship and merchants go after taking their hats. Historians believe that he did that just to exhibit his powers. Nevertheless, this event remained the most memorable and craziest event of his career and of piracy in general.

Towards the end of 1717, his crew decided to overthrow him as he would not attack English ships. He fled in a small ship with a few loyal men and later in life became a pirate hunter for the governor of Bahamas, hunting down his old associates. He died in 1719 during a mission when his ship was caught in a hurricane and wrecked on a reef. (source)

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