When pushed too far, some men shut down completely, cry or rail against the unjust God that inflicted such dire times upon them. And some men, when they reach their breaking points as human beings, opt instead to transcend the limitations of the human form, channel hellfire through their palms and bring the entire world crashing down around them.
#5. Piru Singh Screams the Pakistani Army to Death
In 1947, the newly independent states of Pakistan and India began the first of many wars over the province of Kashmir, seeking control of the world's supply of sweaters and casual throws. In the summer of 1948, the AZN (the Pakistani army in Kashmir) attacked the village of Tithwal and surrounded the area with securely placed machine-gun nests.
Meanwhile, the Indian army had tactical berets.
Company Havildar (Sergeant) Major Singh was part of the Rajaputana Rifles, a troop ordered to retake the mountain ridges now occupied by the AZN. The Indian counteroffensive force soon realized the only route of attack was up a one-meter wide path, at the end of which were two AZN machine-gun nests, with sheer drops on either side to the valleys below. Which we assume were entirely filled with spikes and land sharks.
In order to attack, the Rifles would have to file directly into the death funnel, in plain view of not only the machine guns, but also dozens of grenade-lobbing infantrymen. And for half an hour, they tried it: The Indian infantry stormed up the path and was predictably cut to pieces. They suffered over 50 percent casualties.
Machine guns > Berets.
Singh picked up his submachine gun and charged up alone toward the AZN position. The rest of his section (10 or so men) provided covering fire. He miraculously made it all the way up the path while bellowing "Raja Ramchandra Ki Jai" without being killed -- despite having grenade blasts tear off most of his clothes and being the only (mostly naked, mustachioed, screaming) target on a one-man-wide path. At the top of the rocky escarpment, he jumped into a machine-gun nest and bayoneted all the occupants.
We are assuming the mustache acted as a sort of battering ram.
When Singh realized that all the men who had been covering him now lay dead or dying, he reached a plane of anger as yet unrecognized by our pitiful Western emotions. He was more filled with murder than ever, but tragically, he had just run out of bullets. And that gave him pause ... for all of a few seconds, before he started hurling grenades and charging into enemy trenches again. He bayoneted two more occupants before a grenade explosion tore off half his face, which he found mildly inconvenient at best: Not only did it not stop him, it actually seemed to egg him on.
Now bleeding from multiple shrapnel wounds and half blind with his own blood, he charged the second machine-gun nest and threw a grenade into it, just as a bullet struck him in the head and killed him. As he fell, the grenade exploded, taking out the nest and winning the battle. He died as he lived: a hero.
And a bloody, half-naked, Dali-mustachioed, screaming, faceless personification of rage.
But mostly a hero.
#4. Thomas Alfred "Todger" Jones Doesn't Need Your Precious "Army"
"Todger" is an old-timey slang word for penis. You can speculate, if you like, about where exactly Private Thomas Alfred Jones got his nickname -- was it his enormous wang? Was he a dick to his fellow troops? Did he once kill a man with it, wielding it as a sort of makeshift flail? Sadly, we just don't know that story. But we do know a better one:
Thomas Alfred Jones, winner of the 1905 "Most British Grin" award.
Jones served in the British army during the Somme offensive, the single greatest loss of British life in the history of the Empire. On Sept 25, 1916, the British had captured the French village of Morval and were in the process of building trenches. Jones and the rest of his unit were digging in, still recovering from the battle they had only just finished fighting, when a sniper opened fire on them. Several men were wounded, but when one of the younger soldiers was shot through the head and killed, Jones finally reached his Hulk Quota.
They shouldn't have made him angry.
Jones waited until his commanding officer wasn't looking, picked up his rifle and sprinted off across the muddy, open ground toward the enemy position. He was in full view of the sniper, who put at least one bullet through Jones' jacket while another passed through his helmet, slid down the back of his shirt and burned him all the way down to the waistband. During his mad dash he stopped and shot the sniper ... as well as two members of the Kaiser's Elite 32nd Douche Brigade who fired on him despite simultaneously displaying a white flag. Jones remained unharmed on his journey across the field, still completely alone, until he eventually reached the other side. You know, the side with all the German trenches. Full of Germans.
And not these Germans.
Undeterred, Jones leaped down and, firing from the hip with his bolt-action rifle, killed several of the enemy soldiers. When he came to a dugout, he picked up a discarded stick grenade and flung it in. Three German soldiers came tumbling out and surrendered. Jones took one prisoner who could speak English and used him, along with a few more stick grenades, to get the rest of the Germans to surrender. All told, around 100 (officially 102) Germans came out, unarmed, with their hands in the air and their urine on their pants. One prisoner saw the disadvantage that Jones had (namely that he was only one pissed-off dude essentially fighting a war alone) and tried to make a run for it.
Jones turned and casually shot him dead.
Luckily for Jones, a rescue party had come to retrieve his body. They wound up helping him round up his many, many prisoners instead ... and presumably rigging up some sort of giant ball-supporting sling for the walk back to camp.
#3. George Cairns Captures a Hill Single-Handedly. Literally.
George Cairns was a member of the Chindits, tough-as-nails soldiers who were dropped behind Japanese lines in the mountains and jungles of Burma during WW II. In March 1944, the Chindits started Operation Thursday, a mission that involved sending gliders into the distant jungle and having their pilots quickly construct full-size landing strips so backups could land. In theory, this strategy would put the men well beyond the reach of the enemy while they constructed the means to bring in reinforcements. In practice, as the Chindits found out firsthand, it was more like holding off attacks from every side while simultaneously designing and building a goddamn airport.
This is Orde Wingate, founder and leader of the Chindits. And yes, he was completely mad.
See, when the Chindits flew in, the Japanese already had control of a hill near one of the landing strips called Henu Block, which they used to stage brutal assaults on the men. Cairns and his troop radioed headquarters and complained about the difficulties of practicing architecture while dodging machine-gun fire. Headquarters responded with an elegant solution: Just go up there and kill all of them, then shut up and get back to work. The Chindits were ordered to go and capture the hill back from the Japanese. And so they did. Much of the fighting was brutal, hand-to-hand combat, the British armed with bayonets and the Japanese with Katana-style blades. In the melee, a Japanese soldier hacked off Cairns' left arm.
It can also cut through a potato in one swing.
After watching his own arm get lopped off, Cairns managed to kill the Japanese officer, retrieve the man's sword with his one remaining arm and, sustained solely by his righteous anger (and possibly a shitload of shock), storm right back up that goddamn hill to deal with that son of a bitch's friends. As Cairns advanced in front of the rest of the Chindits, still swinging that Katana at anything that moved, he killed and wounded several Japanese soldiers. He kept right on chopping until the blood loss from the hemorrhaging stump got the better of him and he collapsed and died.
The only reason he stopped killing ... was because he ran out of blood.
Or, as he called it, murder fuel.
But that wasn't the end: The rest of the Chindits were so inspired by the insane bravado of his attack that they all stormed forward in a similarly ferocious fashion. The Japanese turned and fled for their lives, probably believing, based on all the firsthand evidence gathered thus far, that British people keep all of their sanity in their left arms.
As well as their ridiculous hats.