Bad-ass blade-user from history: George Albert Cairns


Lt. George Cairns didn’t let a little thing like a severed arm stop him from whooping ass

If you are at all a fan of military history, then War History Online is a site you ought to check out. I follow their Facebook feed, and they put out a tremendous variety of really interesting content from all eras of history. When I saw this story of a bad-ass British infantryman from World War Two’s medal-winning act of valor with a blade angle, it seemed like a good opportunity to share the site.

From War History Online: Victoria Cross for fighting a battle after his arm had been hacked off by a sword – He picked up the sword & killed the Japanese officer with it.:

“George Albert Cairns VC (12 December 1913 – 19 March 1944) was an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces…


You can read more about the battle at WHO, Lieutenant Cairns succumbed to his wounds the following day. His award citation reads as follows:

The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the VICTORIA CROSS to:— Lieutenant George Albert CAIRNS (198186), The Somerset Light Infantry, attd. South Staffordshire Regiment. On 5 March 1944, 77 Independent Infantry Brigade, of which the 1st South Staffordshire Regiment formed a part, landed by glider at Broadway (Burma). On 12 March 1944, columns from the South Staffordshire Regiment and 3/6 Gurkha Rifles established a road and rail block across the Japanese lines of communication at Henu Block. The Japanese counter-attacked this position heavily in the early morning of 13 March 1944, and the South Staffordshire Regiment was ordered to attack a hill-top which formed the basis of the Japanese attack. During this action, in which Lieutenant CAIRNS took a foremost part, he was attacked by a Japanese officer, who, with his sword, hacked off Lieutenant CAIRNS [sic] left arm. Lieutenant CAIRNS killed this Officer; picked up the sword and continued to lead his men in the attack and slashing left and right with the captured sword killed and wounded several Japanese before he himself fell to the ground. Lieutenant CAIRNS subsequently died from his wounds. His action so inspired all his comrades that, later the Japanese were completely routed, a very rare occurrence at that time.


  1. John F. MacMichael says:

    Amazing story. I think that if you were to look up the term “badass” in a dictionary you ought to find a picture of Lt. Cairns.

    1. I have been wanting to share the site since it is one of my favorites. I just needed the right story to make it poignant.

  2. Sam L. says:


  3. Grindstone says:

    There was also the British guy who landed on Normandy carrying a Longbow and a broadsword. Actually killed a German soldier with the Longbow, AKA the most surprised German ever.

    Also, more recently, in Afghanistan, IIRC, a British unit ran out of ammo and conducted a bayonet charge on a Taliban position. Successfully.

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Bad-ass blade-user from history: George Albert Cairns

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