Mad Jack Churchill: Dunkirk With Bagpipes.

Aidan Herklotz


When most hear the name Churchill, they think of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who helped lead the country during most of World War Two. When I hear the name Churchill, I think of the British officer-class madman who fought on the front lines of the second Great War, Mad Jack Churchill. This is his story.

  1. Before World War II.

John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill was born on the 16th of September, 1906 in Colombo, Ceylon, a former British colony but now present day Sri Lanka. Later, his family moved to Hong Kong (another former British colony) when Churchill’s father was made Director of Public Works. In 1917, his family moved back to England, more specifically the Isle of Man, where he was educated at King William’s College. But don’t worry, Churchill would revisit Asia during his time in the military, which he joined in 1926. But, 10 years later he left the army and pursued a career as a male model. He even used his archery and bagpipe skills in multiple movies, including The Thief of Baghdad (1926) and A Yank at Oxford (1938). Churchill also represented Britain in the World Archery Championship of 1939.

      2. During World War II.

Now begin the parts of Churchill’s life that many find the most interesting. Proving to be a fickle man, Churchill rejoined the army in 1940 serving with the British Expeditionary Force in France. His time in France may have been cut short by the German Blitzkrieg, but he still managed to get in a few kills, several of which involved shooting Nazi stormtroopers with a longbow. Later in Nazi-Occupied Norway in 1941, he was part of a naval landing in the south. When the ramps dropped on his landing craft, he began to play March of the Cameron Men on his bagpipes. In 1943, during the Allied Invasion of Sicily, his regiment attacked an observation post that he was set to capture. He led the charge using his weapons of choice, a Claymore, a Scottish broadsword, a Longbow and it’s arrows, and his signature Bagpipes. His regiment successfully captured the outpost, and commented that it was “an Image from the Napoleonic Wars.” He also supported an army of 1500 Yugoslav partisans in modern day Croatia; he was captured in 1944 in northern Germany, but he escaped and walked 93 miles back to Italy. His service in WWII ended in Burma, 1945, where he fought Japan (I told you he’d be back).

      3. Post World War II.

After the war, he signed up to be a paratrooper in Mandatory Palestine, a British Colony, where he fought against Arabian insurgents. At one point him and his 12 troops held off hundreds of Arab forces (see the Hadassah Medical Convoy Massacre). After this, he evacuated over 700 Jewish doctors from a Hebrew hospital in the area under attack. In 1952, he appeared in yet another film, this one titled Ivanhoe (1952). After his service in Palestine, he was commissioned to an air-land warfare school, where he served as instructor. It was during his time in Australia where he developed a passion for surfing–although I don’t think he could play bagpipes and surf at the same time (sadly). He retired from the military in 1956 with his eccentricity still at its steady pace. He would frequently startle conductors and train-goers by throwing his briefcase out of the trains window during his commute home. Apparently, Churchill’s goal was to chuck his case into his backyard garden so he didn’t have to carry it back home from the train station. He also enjoyed sailing on the River Thames and making mach-battles with radio-controlled warships.

 John “Mad Jack” Churchill died in 1996 at the age of 89 in Surrey, UK. The Royal Norwegian Explorers Club published a book that named Churchill “one of the most finest explorers of all time.” He may not have been directly related to Winston, but he’s still a fantastic Churchill.

“ Any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.” – Mad Jack Churchill.