‘Mad’ Jack Churchill Became The Only Man During WWII To Kill An Enemy Soldier With An Arrow Fired From A Longbow

Jack Knight

In the street ahead, the men of the enemy patrol appeared, moving at a quick trot. They were formed up into a tight column and their weapons were held loose and ready in their hands. A young sergeant led them, looking suspiciously around as if he suspected something. Jack stood up to his full height, suddenly, and the bow was in his hand.

“I’ll shoot that first man with this arrow!” he said in a clear voice. “Ready!”

The arrow he fitted to the bowstring was very long and very straight. The point of the arrow was heavy and barbed, the feathering at the back was clean and neatly clipped. There were another nineteen in the quiver. In one flowing, practiced motion, he took his stance, raised his bow and released the deadly missile. The bowstring thrummed heavily in the tense air, and the arrow crossed the distance between Churchill and the Sergeant at a terrifying velocity.

The Sergeant raised his eyes to the tower. He took in what was happening in an instant. He was raising his hand and taking a breath to shout when the arrow hit him in the soft spot at the base of his neck. He was dead before he hit the ground.


The tower was full of soldiers, they were raising rifles to their shoulders. There were soldiers in the buildings on either side. Sudden machine gunfire peppered the ground behind the patrol. They dropped, sought cover, tried to return fire, but they were pinned down by Churchill’s unit. The man himself appeared with the sword in his hand at the bottom of the tower. Leading a small group of men with him, he sprinted forward, keeping his head down as he ran.

Above him, the men in the tower provided covering fire. He heard the machine gun again, and a barrage of rifle fire. Then he held up his sword and yelled “Charge!” through the din. The men around him began firing and yelling as they surged forward to engage the patrol, but Jack slipped to one side.

He counted to ten. The patrol was fighting hand to hand and pressing forward against his unit. The suppressing fire slackened. Jack ran at full speed into the side of the press of enemy soldiers, vaulting a low wall, and laying about himself with the broadsword.

Jack felled three of the enemy before they were even aware of him, and another two as they were turning to face him. Then he shot two at close range with the revolver in his left hand, and somebody shouted out in German and raised up a bit of white cloth. The patrol surrendered, laid down their arms and were taken prisoner. That day Jack became a legend and he was to go on and serve his country with distinction.

Jack lived to be eighty-nine years old. His last years were spent in the warm and pleasant county of Surrey in the south of England, where he died in 1996.


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