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As we were studying WWII, our history teacher told us a story that, to me at least, seemed apocryphal. But given that she didn't provide any citations, I was unable to confirm our falsify her story. So I'm turning to H.SE for help here.

Recounted, the story went something like this: A British man heard that some Luftwaffe were bragging about bombing London (this was amidst the siege of Britain made by Germany during WWII). This enraged the man so much that he rowed across the English channel, went to the bar in France which these Luftwaffe men frequented, shot 6 of the Luftwaffe men, and rowed back across the channel.

Any citation, Wikipedia article, or further reading so I can confirm this story and learn more are greatly appreciated. Blessings!

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    Not clear to me how he heard that the Luftwaffe were bragging. Pretty keen ears if he can hear the Luftwaffe in a French pub, or perhaps in bombers in flight.... Seems quite implausible.
    – MCW
    Mar 30 at 12:06
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    Not to mention that the English channel is 21 miles across at its narrowest, so a round trip would be at least 42 miles. Not something that just anyone could manage (even on a good day without the wartime naval patrols) so presumably this chap was a keen rower prior to his exploit. Were the 6 Luftwaffe men meant to be those responsible for the bragging? If so, who located them and identified them to the British civilian?
    – Steve Bird
    Mar 30 at 12:27
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    The 'bragging' could have been Nazi propaganda broadcasts - Lord Haw Haw crowing over the destruction the Luftwaffe had visited on British cities. Just about plausible that someone would hear that and want to get their hands on Luftwaffe men and kill them.
    – Ne Mo
    Mar 30 at 12:53
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    @MarkJohnson There's no need to be sarcastic. Someone questioned how anyone in Britain could have heard about Luftwaffe bragging - if you look up Lord Haw Haw, it is a fact that his broadcasts were widely heard. In other words, the idea that a British civilian was incensed by Luftwaffe bragging is not the implausible part of the story.
    – Ne Mo
    Mar 30 at 13:43
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    @NeMo Those that swim, don't do so alone. They are accompanied by another boat to insure that they don't drift south due to the strong currents at the Strait of Dover. The further they drift south, the futher the coast line is away. It's the most unrealistic part of the story. Mar 30 at 16:26

2 Answers 2

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A British man heard that some Luftwaffe were bragging about bombing London (this was amidst the siege of Britain made by Germany during WWII). This enraged the man so much that he rowed across the English channel, went to the bar in France which these Luftwaffe men frequented, shot 6 of the Luftwaffe men, and rowed back across the channel.

As the second map shows, bombers were not stationed near the coast.

There were fighter bases east of Calais, but the likelihood of their crews being anywhere near the beaches in a bar is zero.

That, of course, assumes that the rowing boat actually arrives anywhere near Calais since the currents at the Strait of Dover are extremely strong.

I think your history teacher should have a long talk with your geography teacher.

Situation Maps August 1940

Maybe you should advise your history teacher to try to sell that story plot to some Hollywood producer who specializes in tall stories from alternative realities.

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This sounds a bit like an embellished version of the story of Peter King

"King joined the Dental Corps in March 1939 and served as a non-technician, excelling as a weapons instructor. He spent two years in this role, rapidly becoming a drill sergeant at the Dental Corps' depot, but then applied to transfer to a fighting unit. This was refused. King was so frustrated that he and another soldier, Pte Leslie Cuthbertson, then 20 and from Newcastle-upon-Tyne took matters in their own hands; they planned and executed an unofficial and unauthorised raid on occupied France." Wikipedia:Peter_King_(British_Army_officer)

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    In the Peter King story, it seems he did not hear the Luftwaffe bragging, he and Leslie Cuthbertson stole a motor-boat i.e. did not row, tried to damage a French railway line with a grenade (in the comedy film they attacked a radar station cookhouse thinking it was the operations room) rather than shooting pilots, but still a surprising amateur commando raid.
    – Henry
    Mar 30 at 8:48
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    The Rowing bit does sound like the Cockleshell heroes, but that was launched from a submarine, and wasn't a private venture Mar 30 at 10:46
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    A drill sergeant in the Dental Corps? I see what you did there. Mar 30 at 20:14
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    My favorite part of the story is that they didn't return home in the same motor boat they stole to get to France, but rather stole another boat in France for the return trip... Mar 31 at 13:27
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    I found an article about them with photos of both men. Cuthbertson later became Deputy Lord Mayor of Newcastle. nortonofmorton.com/2016/05/… Apr 1 at 18:19

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