#84. 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.
#83. 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.
#82. Hungarians Fight Soviet Tanks With Soap and Jelly
In 1956, living in Soviet-occupied Hungary was like living in a steaming pile of fresh dog poo. Ever since the commies took over, disposable income was slashed by 90 percent, food was running out, formerly free people were working as slaves on collective farms, and everything was a mess by any reasonable person's standards. Except, of course, the guys in charge. They probably thought everything was going great.
Hungarians disagreed. After 10 years of occupation, rebels gathered by the thousands to send the government a ballsy message. If Moscow wondered what their literally hungry Hungarians thought of them, they didn't need to look further than this Hungarian flag with the Communist coat of arms ripped out.
The American Hungarian Federation
That sure is one defiant poncho.
And their rebellion worked -- for 10 days. In a surprise move that shocked no one but the rebels themselves, the Soviet Union rolled tanks into Budapest and squashed the revolt to a bloody pulp. But that didn't stop the Hungarians from coming up with some pretty innovative battle techniques before the whole thing was over.
The Cartoonish Plan:
In the absence of real weapons, the revolutionaries were forced to improvise their defense with whatever goods were laying around the house at the time. And what they had available was cooking oil, soap, jam, and soft fabric.
"Did I grab the wrong list? I thought I wrote down 'grenades.'"
Once the tanks started rolling into Budapest, they noticed something a little weird about the streets -- specifically, that they were on the slippery side. That's because the rebels had covered the roads in cooking oil and soap so the tanks couldn't get traction. At one point the tank drivers found themselves trying to drive over piles of silk that had been strewn across the streets. Have you ever tried to drive on silk? It's not only impossible, but kind of fabulous. Even more embarrassing, while the tanks were stuck on the world's most aggressive Slip 'n' Slide, kids would smear their windows with jelly.
Sadly, no amount of Smucker's was going to stop the Soviet machine from pouring into Hungary, and the rebellion was crushed. But at some point, maybe only briefly, a bunch of kids stopped 70-ton rolling death machines in their tracks using nothing but items you can find in your kitchen right now.
"Watch out! Snacks, 3 o'clock!"
#81. Benjamin F. Wilson Takes on the Chinese With His Shovel
When the Korean War began, World War II veteran Lieutenant Benjamin F. Wilson ran down to the enlistment office to volunteer his services. However, the Army in the 1950s was a mere shadow of its World War II size and thus had no room for an extra officer. Wilson, however, was more interested in action than in rank, so this veteran shrugged and enlisted again, as a private. He was sent to Korea, rose quickly through the ranks and made first sergeant by the summer of 1951. So already you know this guy doesn't take no for an answer.
He was put in charge of men tasked with protecting a little place that would within days be known with the loving nickname of "Hell Hill."
Here is Limbo Dam, or Hell's Waiting Room.
As the first sergeant of his company, Wilson was both aware that a powerful Chinese attack was imminent and in position to remain in the background when shit would hit the fan. Instead, he wanted to be with his men. For his troubles, he received a nasty bullet wound in his leg when Hell Hill started earning its nickname. This, of course, did nothing to prevent him from launching into a determined lone-man charge where he single-handedly killed seven and wounded two enemy soldiers, sending the rest into panicked disarray.
"Maybe we've had enough war for a while."
At this point, most men opined that Wilson had done enough, what with the life-threatening wound in his leg and everything, and tried to get him to a nice, comfy M.A.S.H. station. They actually managed to place him down on the stretcher, but when stretcher bearers set him down to rest, he immediately escaped and limped right back up the hill to defend the peak. The only problem: At this point everyone else was retreating, so he was now pretty much the only U.S. soldier on the offense.
He didn't actually realize this because his helmet kept falling over his eyes.
As everyone knows, a real-life situation where a lone wounded soldier stands against overwhelming odds never ends well for the soldier.
Unless, of course, said soldier features in a Cracked article, in which case he promptly charges the enemy ranks with his rifle, kills three enemy soldiers and scares the shit out of the others. When the enemy physically wrestled the rifle from his hands, he took his goddamn entrenching shovel and annihilated four more enemies.
This is barely any use against zombies at the best of times.
At this point, the Chinese soldiers decided that Wilson could just keep the damn hill and retreated.
Wilson, in turn, finally allowed the medics to patch him up. Although he did rip his wounds open again the very next day, when he killed 33 enemy soldiers in another one-man assault. At that point, the Army actually had to remind Wilson's wildly medal-recommending superiors that no one is awarded more than one Medal of Honor.
#80. 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.
#79. Three Men and a Pommel Horse
One of the most absurdly complex and overall ludicrous prison escape attempts in history is thanks to a pair of British pilots named Oliver Philpot and Eric Williams, who wound up in a Nazi prison camp along with another British soldier named Richard Codner. Philpot and Williams had been shot down during a bombing run, but it isn't exactly clear how Codner wound up there. Though, from listening to the guy, it is quite possible he voluntarily entered the prison just to see if he could break out. In his own words, "I enjoyed myself when we were escaping. We were really living then. I think it's only when you're being hunted that you really live ... I liked being hunted ..."
It wasn't the guards, guard dogs, or barbwire fences at Stalag Luft III that were the biggest problem inmates faced: it was the dirt. On top was dusty grey, but not far underneath was sandy yellow. Any yellow dirt that turned up in the prison meant a tunnel was being dug. Tunnels, like the three used in the Great Escape were being dug all the time, but most of these were discovered because of the amount of time and yellow dirt required to dig from one of the prison buildings.
There had to be a way around it. Together, the three men built a really big pommel horse (the rail with a pair of handles, like gymnasts use), capable of holding up to three men uncomfortably inside. Then they convinced the guards that they, and many other inmates, just loved the hell out of gymnastics. To make it convincing, they practiced for hours each day, despite the fact their rations, while adequate, weren't exactly chalk full of protein.
The men took turns hiding inside the horse: Inmates carried it in and out to the yard, placing it in the same spot by the fence every day (closer to fence = less dirt). From inside, a digger took the top layer of grey dust and placed it in a box. Bowls were used for shovels. So as not to leave a gaping hole in the yard, a board was placed over the hole and covered with the grey dust from the box. Guards walked right over it, and didn't notice.
The yellow dirt, meanwhile, was brought inside the prison with the digger, where it was disposed of in gardens, rooftops, and the toilet, Shawshank-style. The noise from digging, which would be picked up by microphones placed along the fence line, was attributed to the gymnasts leaping around the yard.
Just me and my leotards, no digging going on here ...
Almost four months and many sweaty testicles later, the tunnel was ready. The three men punched through, assumed fake identities, and travelled across Europe, eventually making it to Britain via Sweden. As for the pommel horse and all those gymnasts back in the camp...we're sure they bear no hard feelings for leaving them there to rot.
#78. Alexey Maresyev Kicks Ass (Without Legs)
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.
#77. Benedict Arnold Was Actually a Badass
You Know Him As:
Benedict Arnold fought for the British during the American Revolution. Even worse, he did it despite being American. Attempting to use his position as a general in the Continental Army to gain control of West Point then surrender it to the British, he was discovered, thwarted and his name has since become synonymous with "English muffins topped with bacon, poached eggs and hollandaise sauce." No, wait, "traitor," that's the one.
But in Reality:
Arnold actually did all that stuff. Switching sides, trying to surrender West Point, the whole shebang. But you know what? Considering the circumstances, it's hard to say we blame him.
This shameless display of unmitigated gall, however, is inexcusable.
When you look at pre-treachery Arnold, what you find is an almost comical beacon of good old-fashioned American virtue. After his mother died, he single-handedly supported his sister and suicidally alcoholic father; he enlisted to fight off a French invasion when he was 15; he grew up to be a successful capitalist and family man. If he'd fought a duel against somebody for using "Yankee" as an insult, he would've been the ultimate American. What, he did that? Never mind then.
Then there was his record during the revolution. He planned and led the famous siege of Fort Ticonderoga. Somewhere around here his wife died, but he soldiered on, masterminding the strategic invasion of Quebec, where he held position for weeks despite being cut off from the rest of the army and shot in the leg. He held back the British at Lake Champlain, he was instrumental in the Danbury raid, he was essential to the success of the Battle of Saratoga. If he fell off a bridge and died at this point, there would be a 50-foot tall statue of him in Connecticut, made of platinum and diamonds.
The army must have loved this guy, right? Surely by this stage he was being carried everywhere by a living throne of nubile young women. Wait, instead they repeatedly passed him over for promotion with younger, less experienced men? And other officers tried to take credit for his achievements? And he was investigated by congress on baseless accusations of corruption?
Basically, after all his bravery, sacrifice and bullet holes, America seemed to develop a great passion for kicking Arnold in the gut. It didn't help that at the same time they were creating an alliance with France, the bad guys from Arnold's teenage war adventures. Under those conditions, it's understandable that he'd quit the team.
People may have had more respect for him if, rather than being sneaky about it, he'd yelled "Fuck you all, I'm with England now" as he rode off giving everyone the rudest gesture of the times. It's the betrayal that irks people. But hey, America, you started it.
#76. Rukhsana Kausar, 18-Year-Old Female Indian Rambo
In 2009, 18-year-old Rukhsana Kausar was spending time with her family in Jammu, India. Located in the Kashmir region that both India and Pakistan claim ownership of, Jammu is basically the island from Lost: there's a lot of drama and a lot of death, and if you try to make sense out of it all, you're only going to end up disappointed.
Her mother was presumably just about to start passive-aggressively asking about babies, as all mothers do, when Pakistani militants rushed into Kausar's village. Four guards posted up outside of her house, while three gunmen went in and beat Kausar's parents and uncle in front of her and her siblings. Luckily for Kausar, her parents had stuffed her under a bed before they came in.
But after her parents fell to the ground in front of her, she found she could take no more. Kausar leaped up behind one of the gunmen (who was also armed with an ax), grabbed him by the hair, bashed his head into the wall, and threw him down. She clocked the floored invader with his own ax, seized his rifle, and blasted commander Abu "I feel like my name was made up by racists" Osama into pieces.
A pretty definitive way of rejecting his marriage proposal.
She tagged another as he fled, and started a pitched battle with the rest of the militants that lasted for hours. After seeing their commander smoked by a teenage girl, then trying to take her out for half a day with only injuries on their side, the rest of the militants decided they'd rather not risk getting made fun of quite so hard in hell, so they packed up and fled. Kausar's family and village were safe ... for now.
But watch out for Kausar: First Blood Part 2, coming to a hotly contested valley near you.
#75. World War II Conscientious Objectors Find (Insane) Ways to Get in on the Action
During World War II, American support for the war was through the roof (well, after Pearl Harbor, anyway). At the same time, a relatively new designation for citizens called "conscientious objectors" was coming into being. Some people who were strongly opposed to Axis powers taking lives naturally had an aversion to themselves taking lives, and they refused to fight.
"I'll pee on Hitler's shoes, but that's it."
Since Nazis weren't going to kill themselves, these objectors were not exactly highly thought of. It was very easy to see "conscientious objector" as a fancy term for "coward" in the eyes of those who saw the war as our only chance to stop world domination at the hands of psychotic supervillains. But the COs weren't just going to sit that shit out -- they found other ways to contribute that wound up putting their lives on the line. For instance, 500 of them volunteered for a vital mission: human experimentation.
For the men who'd rather shoot up unpatented drugs than shoot Nazis.
We aren't talking your typical "three of you take this placebo while three of you take this other thing that may give you an upset stomach" experiments. We're talking shit intended to find out what kills people in wartime conditions. We're talking being exposed to extreme heights, food deprivation, and life-threatening weather conditions. Many of these COs were injected with malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis, typhus, and other diseases that, in previous wars, took more lives than bullets. Some were covered with lice and sprayed with DDT.
But the ones who arguably had it the worst were the 36 COs who agreed to be starved nearly to death. Meaning they got half the minimum rations needed to sustain a human life while being expected to continue regular activities. The results of what these people allowed to be done to themselves were significant enough to influence the Marshall Plan, the program by which the nations devastated by the war were repaired.
We're assuming Captain America fits in around this point.
So, yeah, these guys proved that being a conscientious objector wasn't about fearing for their own safety -- they appeared to not give a shit about that. They just wanted to be nuts in a way that didn't kill anybody else.