3Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck Forms a MacGyver Army in the Jungle
Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck was a German general in World War I. He was in command of the German forces in what is now Tanzania, in an era when military officers had style.
Even his medals have medals.
As his forces were dwarfed by the surrounding Allied armies, the German high command didn't think he had a chance and told him stay out of the war. Lettow-Vorbeck, however, chose to mishear his orders and immediately went to battle, handing the British their asses at the Battle of Tanga even though he was outnumbered eight to one.
Well, that was a good time to call it a war; his army was now getting comically small, the enemy still greatly outnumbered him and he could easily get to safety. Oh, and his superiors had specifically told him not to fight. Most men would have kicked back and taken it easy. But Lettow-Vorbeck was not most men. His solution was to cut his army off the grid completely and go guerrilla ... for years.
"Men, make good friends with either the horses or your right hand, 'cause no one is gettin' any for a while."
His men found a sunken ship and stole the guns off of it, then found some wheels and MacGyvered them into cannons. Lettow-Vorbeck and his army became a nomadic tribe, with no supply lines or place to evacuate the wounded, tromping around the woods with their improvised artillery and whatever they could carry. They then went on to perform successful, frequent and annoying precision strikes against the Allied troops.
And boy, did it work. The British in particular were livid with Lettow-Vorbeck's actions. Multiple times they got so close to him they even announced that they had finally defeated the man -- only to have him embarrassingly pop up somewhere else, entirely unharmed, and blow some more shit up.
"We use the hot barrels to cook our bacon."
Lettow-Vorbeck didn't really need to do any of this, remember. He was specifically forbidden to fight by his superiors, severely outnumbered and also already hidden and safely tucked away. What's more, his troops could only perform small, but still incredibly dangerous strike and flee missions that were technically unable to hurt the enemy much. But he still fought on, nagging at the Allied morale with his "anytime, anywhere" tactics, just because he could.
Oh, and he did this for the remainder of the war. That's four freaking years lugging artillery in the jungle, while also living in said jungle.
... on freaking zebras.
When the German Kaiser in the distant fatherland finally ended the war, Lettow-Vorbeck was still out in the bush. The second he heard the war was over, he happily surrendered to the British, presumably by stepping out of the bush right next to them and making them crap their pants. At that point, he was the only German commander to successfully invade British territory during WWI, and also one of the very few commanders in World War history who managed to go through the whole thing undefeated -- a notable achievement for someone fighting on the side that, you know, lost.
"I'm not too fond of fascists, but I goddamn hate losing."
2Admiral John Benbow Leads a Battle From His Hospital Bed
During the War of the Spanish Succession back in 1701, the navies of Britain and France were in the Caribbean duking it out with cannons and broadsides. If you're curious what Britain and France were doing in a war for SPANISH succession, feel free to read up on it. It's complicated. We only bring it up so we can talk about Admiral John Benbow, who was there fighting for the British.
Specifically, the fact that he kept fighting after being hit by a freaking shot from a cannon.
"Never mind that. Let me sing you the song of my people."
It started when Benbow's fleet found four French warships with several supporting vessels. He ordered his ships to attack, and the two sides exchanged fire until nightfall. The next day, the French took to the seas and Benbow gave chase. Although the four French ships were more powerful, he was confident that his seven ships were up to the challenge. They probably were, too -- but we'll never know, seeing as the other captains were cowards. Benbow took potshots at the enemy several times, egging his cohorts along, but the other ships' captains refused to get near the French ships.
So Benbow decided to lead by example and engaged all four ships by himself.
The "let's sail between them really fast so they crash into each other" plan.
Five days of constant battle followed, with only one of the other English ships chipping in. Benbow took heavy damage, but managed to score some hits and even capture one of the French support vessels. The other British ships remained safely out of range, occasionally firing their guns in the general direction of the French for show and generally pussyfooting about.
Meanwhile, Benbow got hit with a blast of cannon chain shot, which shattered his leg. The painful injury meant he was confined to bed. So it's up to the next guy in line to take over, right?
Oh, hell no. Benbow just had his bed brought up on deck so he could remain in direct charge of the battle.
Hang on, his whole leg's missing here. Typical media overdramatization.
When it finally dawned on him that his support ships weren't just incompetent but were flat out refusing to obey his attack orders, he called off the attack and returned to port for a veritable orgy of cowardice-related court martial sessions, leaving the four vastly superior French ships to scrub the terror-pee off their decks.