During World War II, Alan Turing enrolled in the infantry section of the Home Guard so that he could learn to shoot a rifle. After completing this section of his training he stopped attending parades, as he had no further use for the service. Summoned to account for this, he explained that he was now an excellent shot and this was why he had joined.
“But it is not up to you whether to attend parades or not,” said Colonel Fillingham. “When you are called on parade, it is your duty as a soldier to attend.”
“But I am not a soldier.”
“What do you mean, you are not a soldier! You are under military law!”
“You know, I rather thought this sort of situation could arise,” Turing said. “I don’t know I am under military law. If you look at my form you will see that I protected myself against this situation.”
It was true. On his application form Turing had encountered the question “Do you understand that by enrolling in the Home Guard you place yourself liable to military law?” He could see no advantage in answering yes, so he answered no, and the clerk had filed the form without looking at it.
“So all they could do was to declare that he was not a member of the Home Guard,” remembered Peter Hilton. “Of course that suited him perfectly. It was quite characteristic of him. And it was not being clever. It was just taking this form, taking it at its face value and deciding what was the optimal strategy if you had to complete a form of this kind. So much like the man all the way through.”
(From Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma, 1992.)