11 Soldiers Who Changed the Flow of History by Disobeying Orders

11 Soldiers Who Changed the Flow of History by Disobeying Orders

Discipline and obedience are two indispensable concepts for an army. In order for the activities in the army to be carried out properly, the chain of command must function flawlessly. However, there is definitely a soldier who “breaks the chain” by disobeying orders. Refusal of orders is sometimes for very personal reasons. Sometimes conscience and compassion prevent a soldier from carrying out the given order. Moreover, this person can affect the fate of both himself and the world… Here are 11 people who changed the course of history by not following their orders…

1. Vasily Arkhipov


Due to the “Cuban Missile Crisis” in October 1962, the world was on the brink of a major nuclear war. After long negotiations, US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet leader Nikita Kurushchev reached an agreement on the elimination of the crisis. However, the danger that would drag the whole world to nuclear disaster had not yet disappeared…

Four submarines of the Soviet Union were stationed in the Caribbean for a “top secret mission”. Moreover, they were carrying nuclear bombs even more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima! If the submarine fleet felt threatened, it was authorized to use nuclear bombs without Moscow’s permission.

When the submarines of the American navy noticed the Soviet submarines and began to wander around, tense moments began under the sea. After some time, the commander of the Soviet submarine fleet, Valentin Savitski, believing that a war with the USA had begun, ordered the launch of nuclear bombs! Fortunately, the officer named Vasily Arkhipov understood that the Americans had no intention of fighting. For this reason, he did not obey the order to launch nuclear bombs! Thus, the young Soviet officer named Vasily Arkhipov saved the whole world from a nuclear disaster!

2. Stanislav Petrov


Almost 20 years after Vasily Arkhipov, another Soviet soldier saved the world from a nuclear disaster. And again, by not following the orders given!

Petrov worked for the Soviet Air Defense Forces. On September 26, 1983, Soviet air defense radars gave a warning that missiles launched from the US were approaching the Soviets!

Stanislav Petrov was at the head of the radars. According to the instructions given, he was supposed to initiate the necessary procedures for the counterattack. In this case, the start of nuclear war was not a matter of time… But Petrov was an experienced soldier. He had suspicions that the missiles in the warning system might be “something else”. It soon became clear how right Petkov was in his suspicions. A malfunction in the radar system was causing the system to give false alerts. Thus, another soldier who disobeyed orders once again saved the lives of millions of people.

3. David Teich

rebel soldier

On April 22, 1951, the Chinese and American armies faced off during the Korean War. The 300,000-strong force of the Chinese Army dealt a heavy blow to the American military forces. Thereupon, the American forces began to withdraw at great speed. Meanwhile, a unit of the 8th division was stranded in a line close to the Chinese forces and requested assistance. However, the place where they were stranded was too risky to organize a rescue operation. For this reason, high-ranking commanders condemned the unit to its fate and ordered the withdrawal to continue.

However, Lieutenant David Teich did not want to leave his friends behind. He disregarded the orders and launched a very dangerous operation to save his friends. Along with a small number of soldiers, he managed to save his friends, albeit with difficulty, with the rescue unit formed by 4 tanks.

4. Desmond Doss


Captain Desmond Doss, despite being a conscientious objector, He joined the American army during World War II. However, Dosmond refused to bear arms and kill a human being “even if it was an enemy soldier.” For this reason, he started working as a doctor behind the front lines…

Desmond Doss treated dozens of wounded soldiers in the battles between America and Japan in the Pacific Ocean, and saved the lives of many soldiers. For this reason, he was awarded the “Medal of Honor”, the highest medal in the American army. Thus, a soldier who refuses to actively participate in the war, II. He was the first and only conscientious objector to be honored with this medal during World War II.

5. Thomas Derrick

rebel soldier

II. Thomas Derrick, who served in the Australian army during World War II, was one of the bravest soldiers in his unit.

During the Battle of Sattalberg in 1943, the advance of the Australian army was stopped by Japanese soldiers. The commander of the unit, including Derrick, ordered his troops to retreat. But Derrick disobeyed the order. “Give me 20 minutes,” he said, and left his friends! Moreover, the area he was in was under intense fire. However, this brave soldier had taken the risk of a difficult journey alone…

In a short time, Derrick single-handedly destroyed 10 machine gun sites belonging to the Japanese. Thanks to this great success, the course of the war changed. Thus, the “rebel soldier” who refused to obey orders was awarded one of the most important decorations in the Australian army, the Victoria Cross…

6. Deitrich von Choltitz


Occupied by Nazi forces, Paris was besieged by the Allied Forces on 6 June 1944. Thus, the Nazi troops in Paris took action to leave the city. Adolf Hitler ordered Deitrcih von Choltitz, commander of the Nazi forces stationed in Paris, to raze Paris as he retreated. If von Choltitz had obeyed this order, not only the city of Paris, but also countless works of cultural heritage of all humanity would have disappeared! Fortunately, Deitrich von Chole “did not want to go down in history as the man who destroyed the Eiffel.” For this reason, he did not obey Hitler’s order and went down in history as the “Nazi who saved Paris”…

7. Albert Speer

rebel soldier

II. When Germany was besieged by the Allied Powers at the end of World War II, Adolf Hitler gave an unbelievable order to Albert Speer, minister of armaments! By issuing a decree popularly known as the “Nero Decree”, Hitler demanded that all of Germany’s industry and infrastructure be destroyed! According to Hitler, in such a situation Germany would not be invaded! Albert Speer did not fulfill this “crazy” order and joined the caravan of “rebel soldiers” that history has seen…

8. Raoul Berube


During World War I, there were fierce clashes between the Germans and the French on the Western Front. During these conflicts, German machine guns caused heavy losses to the French. On the other hand, one of the French artillery accidentally fired on his own troops instead of the Germans! The already devastated French troops were not too eager to comply with a new offensive order given by General Geraud Reveilhac. Enraged, Reveilhac ordered the head of the artillery, Raoul Berube, to bombard the French soldiers! Berube disobeyed the order and saved the lives of dozens of French soldiers…

9. Roman legions

In AD 14, the Roman Empire faced the greatest “disobedience” ever…

With the death of Emperor Augustus, the Roman legions near the Rhine started a major revolt for various reasons. The rebellion, in which many legions were involved, reached a level that threatened the future of Rome. Thereupon, Germanicus, one of the leading generals of the empire, was assigned to suppress the rebellion. However, Germanicus had no means of fighting against hundreds of “rebel soldiers”. For this reason, he made various promises to the rebels and managed to end the rebellion, albeit with difficulty. In this way, the Roman Empire continued to exist on the stage of history…

10. Sepoys

Sepoys were the name given to the sipahi troops in British-colonized India. These troops consisted mainly of Muslims and Hindus. The British supplied these troops with mixtures prepared from lard and cow fat to lubricate their weapons. However, Muslims and Hindus refused to use these oils for religious reasons and disobeyed the orders. For this reason, on May 8, 1857, “rebel soldiers” were found guilty by a military court. Two days later, the “Indian Rebellion” began, which would eventually spread throughout the country…

11. Dan Sickles

rebel soldier

Dan Sickles, who served as a brigade commander during the American Civil War, was an ambitious soldier with political ambitions. He believed that his heroism in battle would benefit him politically. During the Battle of Gettysburg, although he was ordered to defend an area, he disobeyed the order. He drove his unit towards the enemy positions. This decision of Sickles resulted in the death of “half” of the soldiers in his unit. Meanwhile, he himself was seriously injured and lost a leg in the battle. The “rebel soldier” who did not obey the orders given due to his personal interests almost caused the loss of the war…

Bonus: Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

When it comes to the soldier who changed the course of history, most of us think of the same name: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk…

The Ottoman Empire, which was defeated in the First World War, was under a terrible occupation. A talented Ottoman officer, Mustafa Kemal was commissioned as the 9th Army Inspector as he devised remedies for liberation. According to the sultan’s order, Mustafa Kemal would go to Samsun and eliminate a possible resistance against the enemy occupation there!

But of course, Mustafa Kemal did not obey the order he received from Istanbul. After going to Samsun, he resigned from all his military duties, including the inspectorate. Immediately after, he set to work to start the National Struggle. He led a great nation on the road to salvation. In the end, a hero’s story full of disobedience led to the establishment of the free and independent Republic of Turkey…

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