Students sometimes consider history to be one of the less exciting subjects in their school curriculum. But there are many funny events from history that get left out of the school books. Some of them might be considered too raunchy for history class. Others are just silly. While they may not have made a real impact on history, they may make you laugh.
Here are 10 funny stories from history that you never read about in your school books.
1. In 1917, when George S. Patton was stationed in France, the mayor of a French town mistook a covered latrine pit for the grave of one of Patton’s soldiers. Patton didn’t correct the mayor, and when he visited the town during WWII, he found the locals were still respectfully maintaining the “grave.”
Image source: Wikimedia, cracked.com
Patton wrote about the incident in his memoirs. It happened in the French town of Bourg, where Patton’s Tank Brigade Headquarters was located. One day in 1917, the mayor came to Patton weeping and asking why Patton hadn’t mentioned that a soldier had died.
Patton wasn’t aware of any casualties among his men, so he went with the mayor to visit the grave. It turned out it was a latrine pit that had recently been covered with dirt. The last soldier to use the pit had made a cross-like sign that said “Abandoned Rear.” When Patton realized the mayor had mistaken a makeshift toilet for the grave of a soldier, he chose not to correct him.
In his memoirs, Patton wrote that when he revisited the town 26 years later, “The grave of that national hero, “Abandoned Rear,” was still maintained by the natives.”(1,2)
2. In 1950 during the Korean War, some US Marines ran out of mortar rounds. So, they used a radio to ask for more ammo. But when making their request, the soldiers used their code name for mortar shells, which was “Tootsie Rolls.” The person on the other end of the radio took it literally, and when the airdrop arrived it was filled with actual Tootsie Rolls.
A veteran who was there said he survived for two weeks on Tootsie Rolls. Afterward, the soldiers started referring to themselves as the “Tootsie Roll Marines.” According to some reports, the soldiers put some of the airdropped Tootsie Rolls to good use.
The incident happened in December, and the temperatures were freezing. The soldiers realized the candies would freeze solid in the cold but could be turned into a kind of putty by warming them up. So, they used the candies to patch holes in hoses and other equipment. At the time, 15,000 US troops were fighting off 120,000 men. Eventually, the marines punched a hole through the enemy lines and made it to safety. (1,2,3)
3. In 75 BCE, Julius Caesar was captured and ransomed by pirates who didn’t realize who he was. The whole time he was their captive, he bossed them around. From time to time, he also warned them he would have them crucified. The pirates assumed he was crazy. But after he was released, he came back to capture the pirates and then crucified them.
Image credit: Georges Jansoone/Wikimedia
Caesar was 25-years old and traveling to study in Rhodes when he was captured by the pirates. When he learned the pirates were asking for a ransom of 20 talents for his release, he laughed and suggested they ask for 50. Throughout his captivity, he refused to act like a prisoner. He bossed them around and shushed them when he wanted to sleep. He also made them listen to the speeches and poems he was working on. Whenever the pirates weren’t impressed by his writings, he said they were too stupid to appreciate them.
The ransom was delivered after 38 days and Caesar was released. He then gathered a naval force and went back to the island where he had been held captive. He found the pirates were still there and captured them. Later, when the governor of Asia seemed hesitant to punish the pirates, Caesar personally went to the prison and had them all crucified. (source)
4. From 1409 to 1417, the Catholic Church had three rival popes who each denounced the others as illegitimate.
Image source: Wikimedia, Wikimedia
In 1378, the cardinals of the Catholic Church were unhappy with the newly elected pope, so they elected a different one. The two rival popes both claimed they were the real pope and the other was illegitimate. This created a lot of confusion for Catholics and hurt the reputation of the Church. The popes were asked to mutually resign or allow a council to select which one should be named the true pope. They both refused. So in 1409, the Church tried to solve the problem by electing a third pope which only confused matters further. This period of rival popes became known as the “Western Schism.”
It finally ended in 1417 when a special council was created and given the authority to strip the rival popes of their titles. This enabled the election of a single, new pope, Martin V. (1,2)
5. In the 1820s, John Quincy Adams approved an expedition to the center of the Earth. Part of the plan was to meet the race of people living inside the earth and to conduct trade with them.
Image source: Wikimedia, Image credit: John Cleves Symmes, Jr./Wikimedia
The proposal was made by an American army officer named John Cleves Symmes, Jr. He had been touring the country and giving lectures about his theory of a hollow Earth. He believed the Earth was made up of several spheres, and that there were openings at the North and South poles that could be used to get inside the Earth and explore its hollow interior. So, he planned to take one hundred men to the Arctic and use sleighs pulled by reindeer to travel to the North pole and enter into the Earth. He also believed that there could be a race of people living inside the Earth, and part of his plan for the expedition was to establish trade with them.
The theory was considered laughable by most people, but when Symmes lobbied the government to fund his expedition, John Quincy Adams said yes. However, Adams’ term in office ended before the plan was carried out. Once Andrew Jackson became president, he put a stop to the plan. (1,2)