Lt-Col Jack Churchill; born September 16, 1906, died March 8, 1996

LT-COL JACK CHURCHILL, who died earlier this month, always wanted to command a Scottish regiment but made his name as one of the most bold and unconventional commando leaders of the Second World War, going into battle with kilt, bagpipes - and bow and arrow.

Born in double exile - in Surrey, to parents on leave from the Far Eastern colonial service - John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill was educated at schools in Oxford and the Isle of Man before officer training at Sandhurst and a commission in the Manchester Regiment.

His first post was in Burma, where he was wont to ride immense distances on a motorcycle through the jungle while on local leave. On duty he often took to boats, policing remote tribes by showing the flag and deterring bandits. Somewhere up the Irrawaddy he met the Pipe Major of the Cameron Highlanders who taught the young subaltern to play the bagpipes in the rainforest. Inspired by less distant customs, he took up archery.

After such an exotic introduction to army life, the regiment's return to Britain proved tedious and Churchill resigned his commission in 1936.

He represented Britain at the World Archery championships in 1939, but when war broke out he was willingly recalled from the reserve and rejoined his old regiment in France, where he tried to defend the concrete Maginot Line with his bow (deadly at 200 yards).

``Mad Jack'' Churchill won his first major decoration, the MC, leading a fighting retreat on the way to Dunkirk. When he ran out of ammunition for his machine-gun, he used up his last arrows and was wounded.

On recovery in England he joined the Commandos and was deputy leader of a ``pinprick'' raid on the Norwegian coast in 1941. He led his men up the beach playing his own bagpipes (unlike that other famous Scottish commando, Lord Lovat, who had a personal piper), wielding a claymore and the faithful bow.

Promotion to Lt-Col and leadership of No 2 Commando followed on his recovery from more wounds. He led the unit in the forefront of the invasions of Sicily and Italy in 1943. He won the first of two DSOs for saving the beachhead at Salerno from a German counter-attack. Some thought it should have been a VC.

Leading a commando group in another desperate attack on the Adriatic coast of Yugoslavia, Churchill was wounded yet again and captured. He was lucky not to be shot under Hitler's notorious order to execute commandos out of hand. As it was, he suffered in a concentration camp - until he dug his way out.

Recaptured, he was sent to a regular PoW camp in Austria, from which he escaped again, walking over the Brenner Pass into Italy and rejoining Allied forces in 1944. He became deputy chief of No 3 Commando Brigade and trained for the invasion of Japan, but the end of the war came first.

After the war Churchill commanded the 5th (Scottish) Parachute Battalion and held posts in the Seaforth Highlanders and the Highland Light Infantry in Palestine.