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Crazy Badass Jungle Fighter

Crazy Badass Jungle Fighter

Deep in the jungles of the Philippines, an
Australian soldier lays on a makeshift stretcher made out of bamboo and leaves. Using a mirror, a pocket knife, and no anesthesia
whatsoever, the man starts making a small incision in his abdomen. Biting down on a wooden stick to avoid screaming
out in pain, the soldier proceeds with the ad hoc surgery, using his fingers to feel
for his enlarged appendix. In the distance there’s the sound of gunfire
as Japanese troops hunt down the Fillipino guerillas sheltering the Australian. Time is running out, and soon the guerillas
will have to move to a new location, whether the Australian man is ready to go or not-
and that’s if he even survives this self-surgery in the middle of a disease-ridden jungle. Born in Scotland in 1902, Robert Kerr McLaren
emigrated to Australia in his teens, after serving briefly in the First World War. The land down under soon became his adopted
home, and there McLaren learned how to be a veterinarian. Eventually he would work as a vet surgeon
in Bundaberg, Queensland, unknowingly learning critical skills that would one day save his
own life and that of dozens of other men. At thirty six years old he met his wife-to-be,
Catherine Ahearn, and married her on June 18th, 1938. With World War II heating up though, Britain
would call on its colonies and commonwealths to help defend her. The Japanese were rampaging across the Pacific,
and blockading or outright destroying British forces all over her many colonies in the South
Pacific. On the 12th of March, 1941, McLaren joined
the Citizen Military Forces, learning basic infantry skills, transferring one month later
to the Australian Imperial Force. War wouldn’t call for him though, until January
the next year, when he was dispatched to Singapore attached to the 2nd/10th Ordnance Field Workshops. Unfortunately for McLaren, the British Commonwealth
forces were quickly overrun by the superior-armed Japanese, and McLaren along with hundreds
of fellow soldiers were imprisoned in a POW camp in Singapore. Not particularly keen on Japanese hospitality,
McLaren decided to escape along with two fellow Aussies, and the men joined up with a band
of Malaysian guerrillas fighting against the Japanese. It was with these guerrillas that McLaren
would start to hone the deadly hit and run techniques he would later employ to devastating
effect against the Japanese, but for now he and the men with him were betrayed by one
of the other guerrillas and delivered straight into Japanese hands. The Japanese recognized McLaren and the other
two Australians as escapees and made them face firing squads for six successive mornings,
only to have the execution order stayed each time. Instead, the men were put on a transport and
shipped to Pudu Gaol in Kuala Lumpur, though a few months later they were sent back to
the POW camp in Changi that they were original held at. McLaren along with 500 other Australians and
500 British soldiers were eventually transferred to a more secure facility in Borneo in March
of 1943, which had formerly been a British colony. At the new facility McLaren and a Chinese
prisoner made contact with local Filipino guerrillas, who were quick to aid the two
and several other men escape from their prison camp. Along with another Australian who had escaped
weeks before, the small group decided that their best chance was to get to the American-held
Philippines, and from there rejoin an Australian unit. Thus the men made their way to the coast,
but with no boats at hand they knew they would have to build their own. Using machetes the men made crude hollowed
out canoes from fallen tree trunks, and then incredibly, set sail across nearly 270 miles
of the Pacific Ocean. The men stuck close to the coast lines when
possible, but were on constant alert for patrolling Japanese vessels, which they knew they had
no hope of outrunning in their crude little canoes. Along the way the men stopped at different
islands, routinely raiding small Japanese units for supplies. In a small-theater production of what would
later become the American island-hopping campaign against Japan, McLaren and the men with him
would hit one small island after the other, killing or forcing the Japanese there to flee
and raiding their stashes of food, medicine, and ammunition. Unfortunately, word spread a lot slower back
then than it does today, and especially when you’ve spent most of the last year and a half
in a prison camp. When McLaren and the other men landed in the
Philippines, they discovered that the Japanese had already forced the surrender of all American
forces on the islands. With no hope of being returned to an Australian
unit or of being rescued, McLaren and the others decided that they’d go ahead and just
keep on fighting World War II on their own. McLaren soon made contact with a group of
American soldiers who had decided that surrender simply didn’t suit them very well, and had
taken to leading a guerrilla force made up of Americans and Filipino soldiers and volunteers. By now a seasoned guerrilla fighter, McLaren
partook in a deadly campaign against the Japanese occupation force, destroying supply convoys,
raiding Japanese depots, and generally making life hell for the Imperial Japanese Army. For their part, the Japanese brutally persecuted
the Filipino population, hoping to discourage any cooperating with guerrillas by terrorizing
the villagers spread out across the islands and threatening death to any sympathizers. At this point though McLaren was struck down
with appendicitis, a particularly troubling condition given the fact that there was no
local hospital he could hope to check himself in. If left untreated his appendix would eventually
burst, and without a doubt kill him. A trained veterinarian though, McLaren knew
what he had to do, and given that none of the other men with him had any medical training
whatsoever, the procedure would be left completely up to him. McLaren took stock of his situation- he had
few if any medical supplies available to him, and no actual surgical tools. Anesthetic, even if he had had access to any,
was out of the question as he would be his own chief surgeon. What he did have available to him was a sharpened
pocket knife, boiled river water, tough, stringy plant fibers he could use as suitable sutures,
a small hand-held mirror, and a half-bottle of rum for the pain, which he passed on as
he’d have to be completely sober for his own procedure. With the Japanese actively hunting McLaren
and the combined American, Australian, and Filipino force down, McLaren began his self-surgery. He would have to not just endure the terrible
pain of cutting into his own flesh, but successfully cut the appendix loose and then quickly clamp
vital blood vessels down to avoid bleeding to death. Over the course of four hours, McLaren took
to his body with the small pocket knife, fighting against the pain to dig into his abdomen and
cut free the inflamed appendix. Then, using a sharp needle and plant fibers,
he stitched his own wound closed. Four days later McLaren was on his feet again,
and after an additional week of rest, he was back once more to the deadly business of making
the Japanese regret their part in World War II. In September of that year, McLaren decided
that being a jungle-fighting guerrilla fighting bad ass was good and well, but the supply
of land bound Japanese was starting to run thin, due in large part to America’s vengeful
counter attack against the Japanese all across the Pacific. The sea though was still full of Japanese
soldiers to kill, and thus McLaren took command of a small whaling ship and retrofitted it
with cannons and any piece of firepower that could be nailed down. The makeshift war vessel began to prowl the
waters off the island of Mindanao, and McLaren now began his career as a pirate. Renowned for his bold and aggressive nature
in the face of the enemy, McLaren and his makeshift war boat, appropriately named The
Bastard, attacked many smaller Japanese vessels, sending quite a few to the briny deep. Always the opportunist though, McLaren would
also target Japanese coastal installations, bombarding them with cannon fire and retreating
to the high seas before Japanese planes had a chance to respond. Occasionally though McLaren would lead combat
patrols on land, and on one such occasion he led part of a larger assault on a Japanese
stronghold in Lanao province. The garrison was completely destroyed, and
American Lieutenant Colonel Charles W. Hedges, reported that McLaren’s actions ensured the
capture of the garrison and the destruction of roughly 450 Japanese troops. By now though the American Navy was making
the Japanese fleet a rapidly diminishing resource, and having decided that they’d let McLaren
run amok like a pirate warlord for long enough, the Australian military ordered him to join
with American and Australian intelligence agents and parachute behind enemy lines in
Borneo. Leading one of several other four-man teams,
McLaren and his men undertook a risky nighttime parachute drop behind enemy lines, only to
have one of his men captured in an ambush by a Japanese patrol. Another man was injured on landing, and perhaps
worst of all, the Japanese managed to find and capture the team’s food, water, and radios. Down to three men, one of which was injured,
and with no food or water supplies, and no radio, McLaren decided that all this made
the odds just about even for the Japanese, and decided to go ahead with his mission regardless. Using his three years of jungle warfare knowledge,
he was able to secure food and water, and recon the Japanese positions defending the
island, all while avoiding aggressive Japanese patrols. Then, his mission complete but with no radio
to report in with, McLaren simply slipped past enemy lines to deliver his critical report. The intelligence proved critical in the successful
American landings against the Japanese, and American General McArthur himself would award
him the US Silver Star, the third highest American military decoration and rarely ever
awarded to a non-American service member. By now and end to World War II was in sight,
but the stubborn Japanese refused to surrender. Given that at this point McLaren was one of
the most experienced jungle and guerrilla fighters in the entire Allied command, he
was tasked with leading an 8 man team on a reconnaissance mission of Japanese forces
in Talasia, British North Borneo. Once more his intelligence proved vital in
the successful destruction of Japanese forces in the area, and the capture of a major enemy
garrison. McLaren would ultimately be awarded the Military
Cross with an additional bar, and the American Silver Star, all for gallantry and heroism
in combat. A terror on both land and the high seas, it’s
probably a good thing that McLaren never learned to fly a plane or he would have surely taken
to making life hell for the Japanese in the air as well. After the war’s end McLaren refused to return
home right away, instead remaining with his 8 man team in North Borneo and helping see
to the needs of civilians ravaged by war. Eventually he returned home to Australia,
though he would soon take a job as a government veterinary officer in Papua New Guinea. In 1956 he retired from public service and
took over running a coffee plantation, though tragically there he would accidentally back
his Jeep into a pergola and be killed when a falling log crushed him to death. One of Australia’s finest soldiers though,
McLaren’s heroism and courage serves as an example even today, and a testament to the
quality of the men and women who defend their home in the land down under. Think you could’ve handled fighting alongside
McLaren’s guerrilla forces? What if you had to cut out your own appendix? Let us know in the comments! And as always if you enjoyed this video don’t
forget to Like, Share, and Subscribe for more great content!

100 thoughts on “Crazy Badass Jungle Fighter”

  1. Could you do an episode on John R. McKinney? He, alone with his sword only, killed at least 38 enemy soldiers in the dead of night when they ambushed him

  2. Thank you for this. He's an awesome guy.. He should be taught in history books in my country Philippines as he is alot better in combat/tactics and braver than some of our national heroes

  3. One of the best solders of all time gives a surgery to himself, is a terror on land and sea, doesn’t die in World War Two, and gets two military rewards and dies by a log

  4. 7:58 why is there a zumwalt? there were not invented yet at that time and they arent used by the Japanese forces anyways

  5. Okay if the guys from Scotland and somewhat Australia then it shouldn't be surprising that he managed to do… yeh

  6. Have you ever heard of Chatrapati shivaji maharaj the Maratha warrior. I would love to see the video on him as well he is one of the finest warrior world has seen from a very young age.

  7. Have you ever heard of Chatrapati shivaji maharaj the Maratha warrior. I would love to see the video on him as well he is one of the finest warrior world has seen from a very young age.

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