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We love us a good badass war story, almost as much as we love a good survival story.

But in the overlapping part of that Venn diagram you get these guys, who didn't let what clearly should have been fatal injuries stop them from kicking mind-boggling amounts of ass.

6
Major Robert Cain Kills Many Tanks, While Blind

Who?

A British army infantryman during the WWII who sported one of the most luxurious mustaches in military history.

Devastating Wound(s):

At one point during the Battle of Arnhem, Major Robert Cain decided that his days of being pounded into retreat by German tanks had come to an end. Instead, he apparently resolved to deal with any future tanks personally.

At one point, two German tanks came in his direction. Cain found a spot near a house to lie in wait, while his friend went upstairs so he could tell the Major where to fire. Naturally, one of the tanks blasted the house, killing the friend instantly and dumping a stack of rocks on the waiting Major, who didn't flinch. Just like in the movies.

Cain fired on the tank with a PIAT (like an old timey bazooka) and eventually destroyed it, but only after being wounded by machine gun fire. His attempts to take out the second tank were squashed by a defective round. And by "defective," we mean "it exploded in his face leaving him blinded and with chunks of metal in his grill."

The Awesomeness That Followed:

About a half hour later, Cain's sight came back, thus beginning a long, slow, painful road to recovery that would see him out of action for well over four years. Ha! Just joking! He got right the fuck up and went tank hunting.

Throughout the night Cain roamed the field, taking on any German tanks he found one by one... using only his hands. Well, and a big ass anti-tank gun. By the next day, he had fired the PIAT so many times that his eardrums had burst, thus setting up false ending number two. Rather than seek treatment for his fucked up ears, Cain stuffed them with bandages and continued hunting for three damn days. This guy really fucking hated tanks.

By the end of the battle, he'd overcome at least six German tanks and an untold number of self-propelled guns, which look a lot like tanks. Easy mistake.

5
Marcus Sergius Loses a Hand, Makes an Iron Replacement

Who?

A Roman general from 218-201 BC.

Devastating Wound(s):

We're going to tell you something that may surprise you: Sword fighting puts your hands at severe risk of injury. In his second year of military service, Marcus Sergius had his right hand lopped clean the fuck off. That's a pretty fucking serious thing to have happen now, so imagine what it was like in an era with no painkillers and where the only disinfectants were leeches and piss.

But he survived, and over the course of a few more battles, he sustained no fewer than 23 injuries that left both of his hands and feet rather useless.

Of course, back then getting a heinous injury didn't mean you got out of the war, to be shipped off to Walter Reed to be treated like sin by an uncaring government until someone filmed a documentary about your plight using hidden cameras. It was actually worse than that. You just rubbed some dirt on it and got back in the fight.

The Awesomeness That Followed:

Rather than return to battle all gimp handed and such, Marcus did the kind of thing that most of us only dream of doing: He fashioned a lump of iron into a fist capable of holding a shield and cracking skulls like you wouldn't believe.

He proceeded to take 12 enemy camps in Gallia, broke a siege at Cremona and saved Placentia, probably with the aid of enemies who stood in awestruck silence of the huge ball of badass iron that doubled as a hand.

He was also twice captured by Hannibal and managed to escape both times despite apparently being kept in chains and shackles for the whole of 20 months. No one is sure how he managed to escape, but we're fairly certain it involved a plot that began with Marcus nodding to his captors and saying, "Hey, wanna wear my iron hand for a second?"

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4
Lachhiman Garung Fights Off 200 Soldiers With One Arm

Who?

A member of the British-Indian Army, during WWII.

Devastating Wound(s):

Two hundred Japanese soldiers attacked the trench Lachhiman Garung was defending and, for their opening act, tossed in a few grenades. Seeing the grenades rolling in, one by one, Lachhiman had the bright idea of throwing them back before they exploded--an incredible idea provided you have three hands to throw with.


Non-refundable.

Garung, unfortunately, only had two hands, so that third grenade did what grenades do in those situations and exploded while he was holding it. His fingers were obliterated, his arm peeled like a banana, and his right leg, face and body in general were all badly injured.

The two soldiers with him at the time were also hit and killed. Lachhiman was alone, one armed and bleeding profusely, and there were still 200 Japanese out there, getting ready to resume the attack. Awkward!


We at Cracked call this getting "Murphy'd."

The Awesomeness That Followed:

Realizing he wasn't quite dead yet, Lachhiman drew his gurkha knife and stuck it in the ground in front of him. "No one will pass here today!" he called out before loading his rifle. The enemy soldiers approached, and Lachhiman calmly dealt with the majority of oncoming enemies at point blank range, just waiting for them to arrive.

He did this for four fucking hours. With only his left arm.


The only other example of this is fictional, and this fucker still has both arms.

That's pretty amazing and all, but Christ, did none his foes have a gun? How about approaching two at a time? Dude only had one arm, somebody would have to be able to get a decent shot off, right?

Nevertheless, attack after attack was mounted by the Japanese in an attempt to advance, but none were successful. How Lacchiman managed to endure and survive his wounds is anyone's guess, but by the end of the day, when someone finally came to check and see how he was doing, 31 Japanese soldiers lay dead in front of his trench. He is said to have complained then about the flies bothering his stump. That's right. Flies. Not the fact that he had a brand new stump. Flies.

3
Gotz von Berlichingen aka Gotz of the Iron Hand

Who?

An Imperial Knight of Germany during the 16th century, before going solo and forming his own band of mercenaries.

Devastating Wound(s):

After four years of successfully playing soldier for hire, shit got real when at the siege of Landshut, cannon fire forced Gotz's own sword against his right hand, taking it and some of his arm off. Holy shit, wouldn't it be awesome if he did like that Marcus Sergius guy and built a new hand out of metal?!


Hell yes!

The Awesomeness That Followed:

Guess what? He did build a new hand out of metal!

If we could have done this whole list on Guys Who Lost Their Hands and Then Made Metal Ones and Then Killed People With Them, we would have done that. Then we would have shut down the site and declared mission accomplished.

It should be noted that Berlichingen, aided by centuries of innovation, was able to do way more with his metal hand than hold a shield. The fingers could be adjusted and moved to hold both small and large objects--anything from a playing card to, more importantly, a sword. Plus, like any good steel hand, it was excellent for knocking people senseless and fulfilling any robot handjob fantasies that a person may have. (**Editors note: robot handjob fantasies were all but nonexistent in the 16th century, please remove this sentence before publishing.**) The hand was hundreds of years ahead of its time, and became the basis for much of modern prosthetics.

With his new steel hand in place, Gotz went on a decades-long ass-kicking bender. For at least 20 years, the iron handed maniac fought for the highest bidders, ransomed people and even robbed merchants when he had spare time for shits and giggles.


Detailed in this biographical album.

Using his ill gotten gains, Gotz eventually bought a castle known as the Hornberg which, for the most part, still stands today. Never really considering himself the retirement type, Gotz was still in the warring business in his 60s, giving new meaning to the famous phrase "If you have a huge steel hand, you can whoop ass well into your 60s."

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2
Jan Baalsrud Survives the Nazis, the Cold and Self Surgery

Who?

An instrument maker turned commando during WWII.

Devastating Wound(s):

In 1943, Jan Baalsrud and some fellow commandos went to Norway on the very specific mission of destroying an air traffic control tower with a fishing boat. Fearing that a fishing boat alone may not be sufficient, they also filled it to the tits with explosives.


You knew this was coming.

Unfortunately, the Germans caught wind of Operation Fishing Boat Bang Bang Explody Pow and were lying in wait. Jan and the others, seeing how fucked they were, lit the fuse on the explosives and tried to escape in a smaller boat; a plan which resulted in them having exactly zero remaining boats (approximately one less than the recommended amount for seafaring adventures).

Jan and his buddies were now in freezing waters and being shot to pieces. They all swam for the coast, but only Jan got away. Because his luck hadn't been shitty enough up to this point, he was immediately shot in the foot upon reaching land. Caught between freezing to death and bleeding to death, Jan also had the Germans behind him. Capture seemed imminent and, quite frankly, preferable.


An otherwise perfect vacation destination ruined by Nazis.

The Awesomeness That Followed:

Recalling the adventurous spirit that had given him the nerve to stuff a fishing boat full of explosives, Jan drew his pistol. When the Germans came within sight, he fired, killing a Gestapo officer leading the chase. Down a boot, shot in the foot, hypothermic and bleeding, he set off on a dead sprint for Sweden (so to speak).

After finding food and temporary shelter from friendly locals, Jan decided to have a gander at his hideous feet. Surprisingly, things didn't look too bad, other than whatever he saw that caused him to slice his own foot open to drain excess blood in a completely ridiculous attempt to stave off infection. Shockingly, carving up his skin with a dirty piece of steel didn't help much.


Surprisingly, this is not the same as a sterilized scalpel.

Sometime later during his escape, Jan had to hide from patrols with what was basically a snow fort for shelter. There he had 18 goddamn frigid days to consider the popsicles his feet had become. At some point, possibly out of sheer boredom, he made the fateful decision to operate with his pocket knife again. This time, however, he started cutting off toes, taking off every digit save one.

Miraculously, this second pocket knife surgery ended up stopping the gangrene threatening to consume Jan's feet, effectively saving them and maybe his life and Jan eventually made it back to Norway. For his self amputation filled efforts, Norway awarded him the St. Olav's Medal, the SIXTH highest honor a Norwegian can receive. Sixth! Real fucking nice.

1
Alexey Maresyev Kicks Ass (Without Legs)

Who?

A Russian fighter pilot during WWII.

Devastating Wound(s):

In 1942, while flying his Polikarpov I-16 over Staraya, which was rife with Nazis at the time, Alexey was shot down. The blast and crash fell short of killing the Russian ace, but he was severely wounded and still in enemy territory. His legs in particular had been badly mangled, which all but eliminated the possibility of a Hollywood-like slow motion walk away from the impending explosions and danger.


Even a flailing girly panic sprint was impossible.

The Awesomeness That Followed:

You know that story grandpa used to tell you about how he would four miles through two-feet of snow everyday just so he could get to school? Well, your grandpa was a worthless pussy compared to Alexey Maresyev. After being shot down, Maresyev crawled through snow, with little food and Nazis around every corner... for 18 fucking days and nights.

Crawled! Suck it, grandpa! The pain was so severe that Alexey frequently passed out, only to awaken, grab death by the throat and shake it while laughing maniacally, and start crawling again.


Experts call this a Crazy Level Busey.

Eventually, he made it back to friendly turf, only to have doctors chop off his legs below the knees. The wounds had festered during his 18-day crawl and had to come off to save his life. We're assuming that, if he had known this in advance, he probably would have just torn them off himself using nothing more than his bare hands.

At this point, anyone would've called it a day, confident that two limbs is just about enough to give in service to their country. Alexey, on the other hand, was having no part of this girlish suggestion.

After recovering somewhat, he got to work figuring how to get around on crutches and fake legs with the intent of getting back into a plane. In order to prove he was capable, among other things, Alexey even danced for the certification commission sent to judge whether or not he was fit to return to battle.


This almost happened.

Realizing that he was both capable of flying a plane and almost certainly insane, they let him fly again and he was back in the air by 1943. In August of the same year, he shot down three German fighters in a dogfight. He went on to fly 86 combat missions and, by the end of his Nazi killing days, had taken out no less than 11 enemy warplanes. For his trouble, Alexey received the Golden Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest and longest named award that any Russian person could ever hope to get.

Naturally, Maresyev's exploits made him a national hero in his native Russia, but far be it from him to accept the acclaim. "There is nothing extraordinary in what I did. The fact that I've been turned into a legend irritates me," he once said. To drive this sentiment home, he made it a point to die just moments before a national celebration commemorating his 85th birthday.

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