How Not to Take Over a Country: The Six Most Ridiculous Invasion Attempts in Military History
They say truth is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make some kind of sense whereas the truth can be just as ridiculous as it wants. The history books are filled with stories and anecdotes that most people would write off as sounding like something from a Monty Python skit if it weren’t for the evidence that it actually happened. With that in mind we present the six most ludicrous invasions in the history of warfare.
By Marc Russel
6. The Assault on Sark
The Invaders: Andre Gardes
The Home Team: Sark
Sark is a small island just south of Britain. It’s technically part of the U.K., but until recently, it was mostly autonomous, with most of the government consisting of a man named Michael Beaumont. They had no cars, although they had a few tractors, there were no laws on divorce or income tax. It was just a serene little island of simplicity and serenity in our busy modern time. Andres Gardes saw it as the perfect opportunity to get his own island.
Gardes was an armed mad scientist bent on taking this island for his own and it was only through the effort of the entire Sark police force that Gardes was stopped.
Well, sort of.
Gardes was technically a mad scientist. After all, he was an unemployed nuclear physicist who wanted to take over an island. Unfortunately he made a few tactical errors in his island takeover. Chief among them, he not only announced the day before that he was invading the island the next day at noon, but he actually put up flyers to advertise the fact.
As previously mentioned, it did take the entire Sark police force to take Gardes down, because fortunately the entire Sark police force had just gotten back from his vacation. Yes, the Sark police force was composed of a single volunteer constable. On the morning of the invasion day, the constable found Gardes sitting on a bench loading bullets into his carbine, waiting for noon to roll around. The constable approached the scary, heavily-armed man, and complimented him on his gun. Gardes started showing the gun off to the constable, who tricked him into taking out the magazine, then punched him in the face and took the gun away.
There is something kind of depressing about a coup when the entire conflict consists of one guy knocking out another with his fists.
5. The Hostile Takeover of Sealand
Source: Richard Lazenby
The Invaders: A few German businessmen
The Home Team: Sealand
Not to be confused with the park where you pay 50 bucks to watch a whale jump through a hoop, Sealand is a small tower in the middle of the ocean. The British government put it there in the second World War, and when the war ended they sort of forgot about it. This meant when a guy named Roy Bates moved in and declared it the Principality of Sealand, no one was able to say otherwise. When the British Navy tried to kick him out, he successfully sued them for trying to lay claim to his land. This made Sealand a desirable place for many shady individuals since it literally exists outside of any jurisdiction save that of international law, meaning as long as you don’t commit any war crimes, you can get away with almost anything.
A few years after they had established their nation, a German businessman contacted Bates and his wife about a possible business deal. When they went to meet him in Britain, the German and a few Dutch associates stormed the tower and took their son hostage. Well, the German had forgotten to bring real firepower with them, figuring that "Prince Roy" would just give them the island.
Of course, Roy took his little country quite seriously and hired a group of actual hardcore mercenaries to charge in and beat the crap out of them. Holland asked that the Dutch men be returned since the Geneva Convention insists that all prisoners of war be returned after the war is over. The German, however, had already accepted a passport of Sealand making him a legal citizen, so they were able to charge him with treason. It’s worth noting that since they had eight prisoners and there were only about four real citizens, Sealand is the only country in the world to have had more POWs than actual bona fide residents at any one time.
4. The Children’s Crusade
Source: Gustave Doré
The Invaders: Several hundred French kids and beggars
The Home Team: The City of Jerusalem, at the time controlled by the Muslims
Jerusalem is well known as one of the most hotly contested pieces of land in history, and has been so for a very long time. In the year 1212, a boy named Steven had a dream in which Jesus told him to go to King Philip II and command him to retake it in his name. As Steven traveled across the country, dozens of children and peasants joined him in his quest, until there were over a hundred. Eventually they reached the king and delivered their message. The king mulled it over, and told them all to go home. Steven decided that if the king wouldn’t invade Jerusalem, then he would. And so it came to be that several hundred peasants marched forth to take the Holy Land armed only with their innocence and led by a small child. Considering the last three or four well-trained and well-supplied armies to try this all got massacred, this may not have been a very good idea.
Well, it turns out there are several thousand miles of Mediterranean Sea between France and Jerusalem.
Oh yeah. That thing.
Most of the plan for getting to Jerusalem hinged on divine intervention parting the sea for them so they could just walk along the ocean floor. Needless to say, it didn’t. They managed to hitch a ride with a few merchant vessels that were heading that way anyway, but halfway there a storm rose up and tore the boats to pieces, killing all those on board. So much for divine intervention.