'MAD' JACK'S CLUBMAN TT WINNERLt.-Colonel John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, otherwise knows as 'Fighting Jack', or simply, 'Mad Jack'
Motorcycles have always attracted 'characters' - people with the courage to live as they choose - probably because while motorcycling, the rider is vulnerable to the weather, to accidental falls, and to metal-clad traffic. It takes a little courage to ride a bike on a regular basis, so it's natural that courageous/eccentric people are attracted to motorcycling; think TE Lawrence, or for contrast, Grayson Perry. One two-wheeled character you might not have heard about is John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill, otherwise known as 'Mad Jack', for very good reasons.
|Jack Churchill training what appear to be American troops, given their equipment. Curious indeed.|
|A Zenith-JAP overhead-valve single cylinder machine, of the type Churchill rode across India and Burma|
|A cartoon made from Jack Churchill's exploits in Burma, riding his Zenith motorcycle across railway sleepers over deep gorges|
|Churchill in later life playing his bagpipes at a commemoration ceremony|
'Mad Jack' with his War Bow; 6' tall, with an 80-lb pull! The only documented archer to inflict casualties in WW2
The British and German outposts along the Maginot Line varied from 500 to 900yards apart, and each side sent reluctant patrols outside their trenches in that cold early winter of '39. Jack carried his bow on patrol, and one day found his opportunity - a German patrol was spotted in the moonlight, close enough. Jack stood up, and launched two arrows - 'The first I heard land with a distinct crack but there was no reaction; the second caused some commotion and a German called out, but it was most unlikely that I had hit a Hun.' The 'War Bow' wasn't the only eccentric weapon Jack carried - he also carried a Claybeg sword!
|Jack Churchill leading the charge with his Claybeg sword in hand (far right) at the landing at Maaloy in Finland...|
|Churchill during WW2, with his Claybeg sword...but without his War Bow...|
Churchill's further adventures in WW2 were legion, including a 1943 escapade, taking an Italian village near Salerno, defended by 42 German soldiers, with a single back-up man, using only his sword! He was captured in June 1944, after a failed assault on the island of Brac on the Dalmatian coast, and sent straight to Berlin, as the Germans were convinced he was a relative of Winston Churchill! In April 1945 he managed to walk in darkness out of a work detail in Niedersdorf, Austria, and walked across the Alps at Brenner Pass, and managed to convince a passing American tank convoy that the ragged, hungry, and filthy creature he had become was a British officer.
|Where Jack Churchill preferred; at the barrel of a gun. Here with a captured 75mm cannon, in Belgium at the start of WW2|
|Alex Phillips riding his HRD-Vincent Rapide to win the 1950 Isle of Man Clubman's TT|
|The engine room of this historic Vincent. What 'enthusiastic' rider will own it now? Heroes like Phillips and Churchill are hard to come by...|