‘Mad Jack’ Churchill (OD 1920) was a British Army officer, known for his bag-pipe playing and sword-wielding, who fought during World War II.
Churchill entered the Royal Military College in Sandhurst, and graduated in 1926, moving to Burma with the Manchester Regiment. While in Burma, he rode his motorcycle up and down almost the entire country, exploring what it had to offer. It was here that he learned to play the bagpipes.
In 1936, Churchill left the Army and moved to Nairobi, Kenya, where he worked as a newspaper editor and model. He also put his archery and bagpipe skills to work during his time as an actor. He appeared in two films, The Thief of Bagdad and A Yank At Oxford, before moving on from the film industry. He took second place in the military piping competition and competed at the World Archery Championships in Oslo, Norway.
In 1939, at the dawn of World War II, Churchill resumed his post in the British Army, as part of the British Expeditionary Force to France. Despite being captured twice, Churchill remained in the army. In 1944, just months after being reunited with the American forces, he was sent to Burma, to participate in the land battles against Japan. However, by the time he had arrived, the war was ending, and so Churchill qualified as a parachutist, and joined the Highland Light Infantry, moving to British-occupied Palestine to train with the Army against the Arab forces. While there, he coordinated rescue efforts and evacuation efforts for civilians and Jewish citizens who were under attack.
After his time in active military duty, he moved to Australia, and became an instructor for the military school. It was also where he took up surfing. He studied the techniques and upon returning to England, he became the first person to ride the River Severn’s tidal bore.
In 1959, at the age of 53, Churchill officially retired from the Army. However, he remained very well known for his eccentricity. Every time he would take the train from the city to his home, he would toss his briefcase out the window. When questioned why he would do such a thing, he explained to the conductors that he was simply throwing his briefcase into his own backyard, so he wouldn’t have to carry it home from the station.
Jack Churchill spent his retirement years sailing the Thames and playing with radio-controlled model warships. He passed away in 1996, at the age of 89.