"It's the orders you disobey that make you famous" - MacArthur.
Originally Posted by Earl_of_Rochester
... Admiral Bying was shot for trying the same thing about 100 years earlier, tho he didn't manage to pull it off...
I thought that, scape-goat or otherwise, he was shot for not
attacking. Nothing like Nelson.
Byng was sent to relieve the island of Minorca following a French attack, but without sufficient funds, forces, or preparation time. His letters of the time show that he set out on the mission with an expectation to fail, after his protests to his superiors were ignored.
A half-hearted battle was fought, the French escaped, Byng returned to Gibralter and the rest is history as they say.
Whether or not Byng was "stitched up" as many people think (his descendants and supporters have long lobbied unsuccessfully for a pardon), it's interesting to speculate on how Nelson would have handled the matter. (Cape St. Vincent was just 41 years later btw, rather than 100.)
Anyway seeing as Nelson's already been mentioned, I'll suggest the Polish pilots of the RAF during the Battle of Britain, who famously annoyed everybody by ignoring orders pertaining to formation and tactics etc and instead tended to fly off on their own "wild weasel" flights to engage the Luftwaffe.
Despite this, and despite being only allowed to join the battle when it was halfway through, the Poles (5% of RAF fighter pilots) were responsible for 12% of enemy planes shot down, and the most successful squadron of all the RAF were the Polish 303.
Of course it can be argued (and indeed is) that the Battle of Britain was won by teamwork and discipline rather than by enthusiastic pilots flying around where they liked and choosing their own targets. Quite possibly true, but even Dowding admitted that without the Poles the outcome might well have been very different.