By Alex Hanton
But Lansdale's unique combination of genius and borderline insanity reached its height when he was leading operations against communist guerrillas in the Philippines. He had become aware of the local myths surrounding the aswang, an evil vampire creature that used a pointed, prehensile tongue to drain its victims' blood. So, when a communist unit had adopted a virtually impregnable position atop a hill in Luzon, Lansdale grinned and leaped into action. He set up a deeply terrifying mind game that began with spreading rumors about an aswang living in the area. Of course, to really sell such a story to hardened soldiers, he'd need some convincing evidence, so he started organizing fake vampire attacks on the enemy. Oh, we're not talking about fake blood and mannequins here. He'd set up an ambush, and when an enemy patrol came along, Lansdale's people would silently snatch the last man in the patrol. They'd puncture his neck with two holes, vampire style, then hold the body up by the heels, drain it of all blood, and put the corpse back on the trail.
Sure enough, the communists abandoned the area in no time. Although we guess it's possible they weren't afraid of the vampire, but rather that CIA nutjob who kept kidnapping people and draining their blood.
#4. Napoleon's Officers Take a Bridge by Calmly Strolling Across It
Two marshals named Lannes and Murat just casually strolled up to the bridge guards and started chatting about how glad they were that an armistice had finally been signed and that the fighting was now over (in case you're not following along, this was a blatant lie). The guards, being unaccustomed to idle banter with high-ranking enemy officers, remained unconvinced and kept them at gunpoint. Lannes and Murat didn't give a damn. They continued to saunter across, laughing off any attempts to stop them. Meanwhile, an elite squadron of French grenadiers also started heading for the bridge. They had been ordered to behave as casually as possible - their guns were slung across their backs and they walked instead of marching, laughing and joking among themselves as they slowly but surely advanced.
When they reached the other side of the bridge, the two marshals noticed an Austrian sergeant preparing to light the fuse to blow the bridge. Lannes, displaying such huge balls that their gravity started attracting debutantes, snatched the match from his hand and angrily insisted that since a truce had been signed, the sergeant was destroying public property, and if he tried it again, Lannes would have him arrested, goddammit. A nearby Austrian artillery force prepared to fire on the sauntering grenadiers, but the officers persuaded them to back down - Lannes actually stopped a cannon from being fired by nonchalantly sitting on the barrel to light his pipe. When a particularly persistent sergeant insisted that the whole thing was clearly a trick, Murat demanded to know if the Austrian officers were going to let an enlisted man talk to them like that. At which point the humiliated Austrian officers ordered the man imprisoned.
The fact that the French grenadiers crossed the bridge and seized said Austrian officers immediately after probably made for a very bittersweet "I told you so!" moment.
#3. Tecumseh Takes Fort Detroit by Marching Around in Circles
Tecumseh then marched his 600 men toward the fort. They embarked on a campaign of fear on the night watchmen on the stockades, howling and chanting and whooping like men possessed, playing up the role of the violent natives. As daylight emerged, a fearful sight met the Americans: a massive, savage army of horribly war-painted Indians circling their fort, hidden in the woods save for a small clearing. The horrified soldiers at the fort managed to count at least 1,500 savage warriors from what little the clearing revealed. In reality, Tecumseh's troops were moving single file across the clearing. Every man walked the small open space, giving the guys at the fort his best "bloodthirsty injun" impression, until he was safely under the cover of the forest again. Then he'd run a large loop back until he was at the end of the line again. This created a never-ending conveyor belt of intimidating warriors, making the surrounding army look massive.
As their coup de grace,
Brock warned Fort
Detroit he was
"losing control" of Tecumseh (who was probably trying not to burst
into laughter in the background) and would sadly be unable to prevent an unholy
scalpin' party if the fort had to be taken by force. The fort's commander,
terrified to his very bones, surrendered without consulting his officers or
even firing a shot. Incidentally, this makes Detroit the only American city that has ever
surrendered to a foreign power. (Insert your own "If only they'd kept
it" joke here.)
|The "Spirit of Detroit" statue, signifying their cowardice and gullibility in the face of danger.|
#2. Britain Convinces Nazis They Can Set the Ocean on Fire
|"That's what we call 'burn off.' Let's keep that up there instead of engulfing everything we've ever known."|
So British intelligence swung into action, spreading the story of their newly acquired pyrotechnic powers throughout occupied France, including whispering it to German patients at the hospitals of Paris. Before long, half the German army was convinced that anyone invading England would have to sail through a coast-to-coast tsunami of flame. And as they grew fearful, the locals got cocky. Soon, French resistance members started amusing themselves in bars by pretending to warm their hands on the backs of German soldiers. By the time the rumor reached Nazi high command, the story had grown into a magic mine weapon that ignited the sea. They started experimenting with asbestos-coated invasion barges, which worked pretty well until the live test that involved loading a barge with troops and sailing it into a pool of burning gasoline. This did not end well.
Meanwhile, the British intelligence was astonished by the success of their plan and got a little carried away. They started circulating a follow-up rumor, which involved the British importing 200 man-eating sharks from Australia and releasing them into the channel. This story was a lot less successful (since the sharks would be boiled alive by the flaming water, duh).
#1. Robert Baden-Powell Gives Boers a Crash Course in Bullshit
Now Baden-Powell had Mafeking, but how could he keep it from an incoming Boer force five times stronger? With shenanigans, that's how! Baden-Powell's men started burying mysterious boxes around the town's perimeter. When questioned about them, Baden-Powell announced that they were powerful landmines from England, specifically designed to wreck Boer shit. He proved this by blowing up a couple, making sure that enemy sympathizers saw the massive explosions and managed to slip out of town to warn the Boers. Of course, there were no mines. The boxes Baden-Powell had detonated were filled with dynamite from his extremely limited supply. The rest were full of sand.
Baden-Powell's other problem was that he didn't have barbed wire, or facilities to make any - a key tool in stopping the advance of ground troops. What he had was a bunch of wooden posts of the kind barbed wire is strung on, and he knew that barbed wire was really hard to see from a distance. So, he hammered the posts in a massive circle around the town, and whenever his men came near the posts, they would hurl themselves to the ground and inch along as if trying to crawl under barbed wire. To an enemy with binoculars, it totally looked like the city was now guarded from all sides with barbed wire, in addition to the supermines.
|And then added, "So suck it. All of it."|