#2. Two Shoeless Men Fight Off an Ambush in 20-Below Weather
US Marine Corps
The scene: Korea, on a freezing November day in 1950. Pvts. Hector Cafferata and Kenny Benson's unit was under orders to protect the Tokong Pass, an escape route for other Marine regiments. Five men were sent out beyond the perimeter to keep watch, and Cafferata and Benson were chosen to sleep first. The ground was so frozen that they couldn't dig foxholes, and they had to use tree limbs as windbreaks. This turned out to be the least shitty part of the night, because unbeknownst to them, a massive Chinese unit was close by. And while the two men were snoozing in their sleeping bags, the Chinese attacked.
Sergeant Corporal W.T. Wolfe/US Marines
They also would have drawn dicks on the men's faces, but the Marines had taken their boots off.
Imagine your alarm clock waking you up too early. What do you do? Probably stumble around your room, disoriented, clumsily knocking over everything while trying to find the snooze button, right? Now, imagine your alarm clock is the screams of an enemy army and the roar of close gunfire. Game over, right? Not if you're Cafferata and Benson. The two men sprung out of their fart-sacks at once and, without so much as putting their boots on, took up their rifles and started emptying clips, downing eight enemy soldiers on the spot.
When they stumbled (in their socks, mind you) upon wounded Marines, both men elected to stay and protect them. And when a grenade landed close by, Benson tried to fling that shit away. He was too late, though, and it exploded near his face, blinding him. Deciding that eyesight was for pussies, Benson stayed by Cafferata's side, gathering weapons, loading them, and keeping his buddy well stocked with fresh ammo and replacement guns.
"Is this the right ammo?"
"No, Benson, that's a cat."
Over the next seven hours, Cafferata laid down a never-ending stream of devastation on the enemy force. The men moved up and down the line of troops, presumably alternating between super-slow and super-fast motion, dropping enemy soldiers and batting away grenades with a trench shovel. When one grenade fell close to Benson, Cafferata was the one to chuck it away. He was too late, and the explosion took chunks of his hand. That also was no reason to stop fighting.
The two men, one maimed, the other blind, fought alone until the sun rose and they finally realized they had beaten the Chinese back.
"Aw, come on guys, don't be sore losers. We still have some ammo left!"
Unfortunately, Cafferata was shot in the arm and chest while trying to retrieve his boots from his sleeping bag. He was hospitalized for 18 months and learned later that officers had tallied more than 100 enemy dead surrounding the ditch they fought in. They elected not to put that number in their report, however, because they very reasonably felt that no one in their right mind would believe it.
#1. A Pair of Dentists Go AWOL to Attack the Germans
What these next two guys did in no way turned the tide of the war, and as far as we know it didn't even result in any German casualties. Still, it has to go down as one of the most balls-out crazy things ever attempted in modern warfare. This is the story of the two guys who decided to single-handedly invade Nazi-occupied France.
First, we want you to imagine the most unintentionally hilarious job anyone could have, for any nation, in any war. Got it? Well, Sgt. Peter King and Pvt. Leslie Cuthbertson have you beat: They spent World War II in the British Army Dental Corps.
After trying several times to transfer to fighting units, they decided to take matters into their own hands. So, in April of 1942, King and Cuthbertson went AWOL. In an effort to prevent accusations of desertion, they wrote letters to Prime Minister Winston Churchill explaining the purpose behind their actions. Then these two dentists, who had no particular espionage or other special training to speak of, stole weapons and grenades from their camp, deciding they'd get proactive on that shit. They stole a motorboat and set out across the English Channel to France in what was to be the very first invasion of occupied territory of the war, unauthorized though it was.
Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
The lengths some people will go to just to avoid latrine duty.
Once there, King and Cuthbertson, who were inspired by stories of raids conducted by the English Special Services, sought out something to raid. It came in the form of a German troop train. Armed with all their considerable dentist training, they waited for any German onlookers to go past them, then placed a grenade under one of the tracks and pulled the pin. The train successfully disrupted, the two men made the tactically sound decision to get the hell out of the area before they were cut down by enemy soldiers.
King and Cuthbertson stayed in Nazi-occupied France for a total of three days before deciding to return to England, somehow not getting killed in the process. They stole another motorboat and made their way across the English Channel. They miscalculated the amount of fuel the boat would need, though, and it wasn't long before they were stranded on the water, where they stayed for more than two weeks before being rescued by the Royal Navy.
"Captain, I've spotted the HMS Dumbass off the bow!"
They were immediately court-martialed, because it turns out most armies frown on this kind of thing. An intervention by Churchill prevented them from being tried for desertion, but they did end up losing rank. They were, however, allowed to leave the dental corps and transfer to the light infantry ... and over the years, King wound up winning two medals for valor. So, yeah, we're thinking the guy was kind of wasted as dentist.
Related Reading: Ready for some one-man rampages? We've got those too. Fats McCarthy stormed half a kilometer of German trench on his own. If you're more interested in two men fighting each other, we've got these tales of duels. Still reading? We've got more one man rampages right here. You can read about the man who screamed an entire army into submission.