I maintain that the Second World War brought up lots of crazy people of every nationality. I offer these in evidence for my position.
When Lord Lovat waded ashore on D-Day, he brought along his personal piper, Bill Millin, and instructed him to play. Virtually unarmed, and in the front of his entire group he played his pipes. Intelligence interviews with captured German soldiers after the battle revealed that they didn’t shoot him because they thought the poor fellow was insane. He survived the War and donated the pipes to a war museum in Scotland.
Major-General Orde Charles Wingate was a pioneer in Jungle warfare, He dropped into the Jungles of Burma with his men on the first deep penetration raids against the Japanese who were then trying to force a passage to India. The Japanese had the idea that India was just waiting for liberation from the British.
He regularly greeted visitors to his tent completely naked, wore garlic and onions around his neck (often snacking on them) and instead of a watch wore an alarm clock on a string.
He was about to board a plane on a jungle airstrip, when two journalists asked for a ride. Overruling the pilot, who thought the plane would be too heavy he invited them on board.
The plane was too heavy and crashed on take-off, killing everyone.
General de Gaulle was the leader of the Free French basically because Churchill supported him, to a point. His position was made more tenuous as the French were in danger of regarding him as a puppet of the Allies. He thought the best way to counter this (according to Churchill) was to be rude and stubborn to his hosts. Churchill said he managed this extremely well. There was a point before D-Day where Churchill needed him to come to London (from North Africa) yet he refused. Churchill threatened to have him brought there in chains. He came. When he got there he spent most of his time arguing with his Allies about whose head should appear on the “invasion money” issued to the troops.
As a courtesy from his Allies he received a lot of classified and decoded messages. In contravention of all security protocol he then re encoded them verbatim in the French code. The Allied code was quite good, but the French one could be cracked by a schoolchild. The danger here was until this was discovered the Germans could have both the plain text and the allied coded message side by side, the Nazis could then decode all of the allied traffic and this resulted in the death of many, many people, French included.
General Mark Clark gets a mention because he was obsessed with his public image and desperately wanted to be the hero liberating Rome. His drive on Rome was not single handed as the British, New Zealanders, Poles and even Indian troops were fighting in Italy at the time. When he thought that his big moment would be spoiled by non Americans getting to Rome first, he threatened to OPEN FIRE on his allies.
He got his moment of glory, riding in his jeep through the crowds in Rome, but in a piece of exquisite just desserts, the D-Day invasion went ahead the next day and pushed him off the front page of every paper in the Allied world.
As 1943 drew to a close, the Germans were on the defensive almost everywhere and the German spy service, the Abwehr, was reorganising its priorities. One of the Abwehr’s leading lights was SS Oberleutnant Walter Praetorious, a committed Anglophile and a rabid Nazi as well. Walter was not a happy man. He saw others covered in glory and craved the medals for himself.
Before the war he lived in England and became particularly enamoured with English folk dancing. He somehow determined that this dancing was the progenitor of all dancing and he needed to bring it to Germany. He lobbied hard for a transfer that would best make use of his perceived talents and eventually got his wish. So, with the Nazi dream crumbling, allied bombers overhead every night, Nazi troops retreating or stalled he was appointed the official dancing instructor for the German army.
(c) 2019 Paul Hannah