Chuck Norris, Meet Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart, VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO

 

A tweet directed me here on Wikipedia, and made my day:

Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart] VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 – 5 June 1963) was a British Army officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a POW camp; and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them.

Describing his experiences in World War I, he wrote, “Frankly I had enjoyed the war”

 Some other details:

In 1908 he married Countess Friederike Maria Karoline Henriette Rosa Sabina Franziska Fugger von Babenhausen (1887 Klagenfurt – 1949 Vienna), eldest daughter of Karl Ludwig, 4th Fürst (Prince) Fugger-Babenhausen and Princess Eleonora Fugger von Babenhausen of Klagenfurt, Austria. They had two daughters, the elder of whom Anita (born 1909, deceased) was the maternal grandmother of the war correspondent Anthony Loyd (born 1966).

In his memoirs, Happy Odyssey, Carton de Wiart makes no reference to his wife or to his daughters [nor, to be fair, to his Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for gallantry].

 ….At one time during his Warsaw stay he was a second in a duel between Polish members of the Mysliwski Club, the other second being Baron Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, later commander-in-chief of Finnish armies in World War II and President of Finland. Norman Davies reports that he was “…compromised in a gun-running operation from Budapest using stolen wagon-lits”.

 … He was active in August 1920, when the Red Army was at the gates of Warsaw. While out on his observation train, he was attacked by a group of Red cavalry, and fought them off with his revolver from the footplate of his train, at one point falling on the track and re-boarding quickly.

 … He made five attempts i[to escape from his WW2 POW camp] including seven months tunneling. Once Carton de Wiart evaded capture for eight days disguised as an Italian peasant (which is surprising considering that he was in northern Italy, couldn’t speak Italian, and was 61 years old, with an eye patch, one empty sleeve and multiple injuries and scars).

His wife died in 1949 and in 1951, at the age of 71, he married Ruth Myrtle Muriel Joan McKechnie, a divorcee known as Joan Sutherland, a woman 23 years his junior.

 His memoirs are now on their way to me. The preface was written by Winston Churchill.

 Of course it was.

There are 20 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Profile Photo Inactive
    @CrowsNest

    Huzzah!

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member
    @mildlyo

    Makes Harry Flashman look boring.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Valiuth

    I don’t know…how good can he be if he got captured? 

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Reagan
    @She

    Oh, how I miss that version of my countrymen.

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Contributor
    @AndrewStuttaford
    Valiuth: I don’t know…how good can he be if he got captured?  · 5 minutes ago

    A shocking moment of weakness!  On the other hand, his plane had just crashed a mile off the Italian-occupied Libyan coast, and this–once he had regained consciousness– was the only place where he could feasibly swim to shore, which as a one-handed 61-year old he duly did. That’s where he was captured.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Inactive
    @flownover

    What a great bio, they don’t make ’em like that anymore. Reminded me of a personal hero, Orde Wingate . And another Churchill preface. 

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Inactive
    @flownover

    Byron swam the Hellespont with his foot, these Englishmen defined courage .

    Andrew Stuttaford

    Valiuth: I don’t know…how good can he be if he got captured?  · 5 minutes ago

    A shocking moment of weakness!  On the other hand, his plane had just crashed a mile off the Italian-occupied Libyan coast, and this–once he had regained consciousness– was the only place where he could feasibly swim to shore, which as a one-handed 61-year old he duly did. That’s where he was captured. · 27 minutes ago

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Mallard

    And I guess he didn’t want to toot his own horn by bothering to mention the V.C.? I guess that would be boorish. What a guy!

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HoraceSvacz

    Read this and had to order his memoirs right away. They’re on their way. I can hardly wait.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Inactive
    @HoraceSvacz

    What tweet directed you to his biography? Who are you following?

    • #10
  11. Profile Photo Member
    @Idahoklahoman

    I checked. His second wife was not the Joan Sutherland. I couldn’t imagine a man of General de Wiart’s background putting up with all that damnable screeching.

    • #11
  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @GaryBokelmann

    Now THAT’s a bio. For some reason I seem to hear a voice saying, “stay thirsty, my friend.”

    • #12
  13. Profile Photo Contributor
    @AndrewStuttaford
    Gary Bokelmann: Now THAT’s a bio. For some reason I seem to hear a voice saying, “stay thirsty, my friend.” · 18 minutes ago

    http://img15.imageshack.us/img15/8906/y7z8.jpg

    • #13
  14. Profile Photo Contributor
    @AndrewStuttaford
    Horace Svácz: What tweet directed you to his biography? Who are you following? · 1 hour ago

    https://twitter.com/wallaceme/status/426672874636992512

    • #14
  15. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SalvatorePadula

    Carton de Wiart was generally thought to be one of the inspirations for Evelyn Waugh’s character Ben Ritchie-Hook.

    • #15
  16. Profile Photo Member
    @
    Andrew Stuttaford

    Valiuth: I don’t know…how good can he be if he got captured?  · 5 minutes ago

    A shocking moment of weakness!  On the other hand, his plane had just crashed a mile off the Italian-occupied Libyan coast, and this–once he had regained consciousness– was the only place where he could feasibly swim to shore, which as a one-handed 61-year old he duly did. That’s where he was captured. · 4 hours ago

    Damn, good thing he wasn’t wearing his medals when his plane splashed in –

      Carton-Medals-Rotated.jpg

    – he’d have gone straight to the bottom.

    • #16
  17. Profile Photo Member
    @

    I think its safe to say that he was THE Badass of the 20th Century.

    • #17
  18. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MikeK
    RightinChicago: I think its safe to say that he was THE Badass of the 20th Century. · 7 minutes ago

    Paddy Mayne might give him a run.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddy_Mayne

    “‘On 10 July 1943, Major Mayne carried out two successful operations, the first the capture of CD battery the outcome of which was vital to the safe landing of 13 Corps. By nightfall SRS had captured three additional batteries, 450 prisoners, as well as killing 200 to 300 Italians. The second operation was the capture and hold of the town of Augusta. The landing was carried out in daylight – a most hazardous combined operation. By the audacity displayed, the Italians were forced from their positions and masses of stores and equipment were saved from enemy demolition. In both these operations it was Major Mayne’s courage, determination and superb leadership which proved the key to success. He personally led his men from landing craft in the face of heavy machine-gun fire. By this action, he succeeded in forcing his way to ground where it was possible to form up and sum up the enemy’s defences.'”

    • #18
  19. Profile Photo Inactive
    @Lance

    Now that’s an avatar to remember using in the future. We should consider naming our double secret Ricochet membership society after him. It makes sense considering the price of admission also includes biting off your own finger. Though perhaps our acceptance of just one finger would mark us as cowards in his eyes.

    • #19
  20. Profile Photo Coolidge
    @ChrisCampion

    The Zec bit off his own fingers to prevent the gangrene from killing him.  Yet no one offers up his courage as an example to the rest of us.

    • #20

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.