Many years ago at Fact Fiend we maintained an infrequently updated series detailing the exploits of men, women and the occasional fictional character in possession of a rare genetic mutation known as Diogenes-itus. A condition characterised by enlarged balls and the inability to recognise or give a single, solitary fuck. And today we’re reviving to talk about Peter Wessel. A Norwegian naval officer who parlayed not giving the faintest whiff of a shit into a storied career that piqued the interest of no less of an authority than his own king.
Born Peter Jansen Wessel, the no-nonsense Norwegian is perhaps better known by the nickname he earned for his audacious naval exploits, Peter Tordenskjold. Which literally translates to Peter Thundershield, a title bestowed upon the spartan-spirited sailor by Frederick IV in acknowledgement of both the size of his pendulous, titanic nutsack and peerless naval record.
What made Wessel such a force to be reckoned with on the waves was his tenacity and penchant for attacking any opposing ship, regardless of size or armament, head on. Literally. To explain, throughout much of the history of navel warfare the “proper” way to attack an opposing vessel was to position your ships parallel to the enemy and then broadside it. A tactic Wessel keenly noted very much favoured the most heavily armed ship and frequently resulted in catastrophic damage and losses even for both sides.
Wessel’s idea then was to simply attack ships from the front since, well, they didn’t have any guns there. Of course his ship also didn’t have any guns but owing to its smaller size, could be quickly manoeuvred into a broadside position, blow the shit out of the enemy and then fuck off before their lumbering boat-ass even had a chance to turn around. Wessel was also a fan of attacking ships without warning or utilising literal false flag attacks, alternately obliterating or outright commandeering countless enemy ships many times the size of his own before they even realised he was an enemy. Sometimes he’d even just crash into enemy ships just to see how long it’d take them to realise they were under attack and then come back later to do it again knowing exactly how to crush and counter any potential resistance.
While undoubtedly a dick move, Wessel’s defence was that he was at war (with Sweden for anyone curious) and his orders were to secure Norway’s borders from attack and repel any and all advances from the enemy. An excuse that only served to piss of the Swedes, who posted a not insignificant reward for Wessel’s capture. Norwegian brass is similarly known to have disapproved of Wessel’s conduct but couldn’t really do anything because he, well, he always fucking won and the King thought he was funny.
For example, one of Wessel’s most infamous moments came when he attacked a British vessel many times the size of his own and proceeded to chase it for tens of miles peppering it with cannonballs. A move that stunned the British captain who reportedly couldn’t believe that a ship so small was –
- Attacking them
- Kind of winning
The shock turned to outright astonishment when the ship eventually fell quiet and a small rowboat approached them with a message. Not of surrender mind you, but asking for more ammunition so that Wessel could continue fighting. The British captain, so amused by this display of bravado opted to ceasefire and ordered his men to lower then guns and pass by the ship so that he could toast it’s captain. An offer Wessel obliged, toasting the British captain to well fought battle and fucking off back to Norway where he was immediately court-martialled .
You see, technically Wessel had committed a court martial-able offence by revealing something to the enemy (that they were out of ammo) and his superiors wanted to use the situation to finally get rid of him. The problem was, when the King of Norway demanded an explanation of Wessel’s actions, his affable charm so disarmed the King that he let him off. Feeling emboldened Wessel then asked for a promotion and a bigger ship to keep attacking Norway’s enemies, which the King obliged, again simply because he respected the balls it took to ask.
From this point on Wessel career consisted of him doggedly pursuing enemy ships encroaching on Norway’s borders, kicking the everloving shit out of them and then getting promoted. Something he did until he’d risen to the rank of Rear-Admiral and been given the aforementioned honorary title of THUNDERSHIELD. A title given in acknowledgement of the fact Wessel was
The Shield that protected Norway’s people and the Thunder that struck down her enemies.
Sadly, Wessel wasn’t really able to enjoy retirement and the no doubt fat-as-fuck pension he’d have been entitled to, being killed in a duel shortly after being discharged from the Navy. Reportedly, the duel was a set up designed to prey on Wessel’s sense of honor, with plants telling him that the duel wasn’t serious prompting him to turn up with a ceremonial dress sword whereas his opponent turned up with an actual saber. Unwilling to back down, Wessel was quickly felled and died on the spot. Going out the way he lived, without a single fuck being given.