Adrian Carton de Wiart.. "Tough as Nails."
Skip ahead to the full story! I rather enjoyed how this fella told his story! ;)
Second Video with more pictures
What an amazing man.. "Some might say he's lucky".. to be alive!
Here's more information about him.
ATTENTION PEOPLE COMING HERE FROM THAT ARTICLE I WROTE! This thing was written months ago before I knew how to do anything, I have not bothered to fix it since. It is not good. You have been warned.&&(
Just The Facts
- Born 5th May 1880, Died 5th June 1963.
- Was admired greatly by pretty much everyone he met, including Winston Churchill and Chiang Kai-Shek
- Quote from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography "With his black eyepatch and empty sleeve, Carton de Wiart looked like an elegant pirate, and became a figure of legend."
1880 - 1914
Born to an Irish mother and a Belgian Aristocrat father (hence the silly name), the family moved the Alexandria in Egypt when De Wiart was 3 and his mother died when he was 6. When De Wiart was 8 his father married a (possibly evil) English woman who packed De Wiart off to an English boarding school where he was bullied for being a filthy foreigner. After boarding school De Wiart went to Oxford University and studied law, however after studying for only one term as the Boer war broke out in South Africa and De Wiart dropped out in order to become a Trooper in the British Army, after giving a false name, nationality and age. He did not inform his parents that he had done this.
After training he was shipped out and after a brief stay in South Africa he was returned to Britain having suffered two bullet wounds, one bullet puncturing a lung (it was at this point that his parents were informed that he wasn't still in University). After recovering he returned to South Africa and joined the Colonial Light Cavalry (this time with his parents permission) and, according to his autobiography, saw very little action aside from shooting the Boers livestock. He stayed in South Africa until 1902 when he joined the Colonial Dragoons and was stationed with them in India until early 1914 when he ran out of money and decided to take a more dangerous though higher paying job fighting against the Dervishes in Somalia with the Camel Corps.
1914 - 1918
In 1914 De Wiart fought at the Battle of Beersheba, this is his account of the battle with all the tedious parts removed:
"The first shot fired at me passed through my rolled-up sleeve and did no damage... The Dervish's rifle could not have been more than a yard away from me... I got a glancing blow in the eye, but I was too wound up to stop... The next hit was in the elbow, and I plucked a large but not too damaging splinter from it... The following shot split my ear, and as the doctor was standing conveniently near he stitched it up there and then... I tried again to storm this blockhouse, but a ricochet from a bullet went through the same damaged eye... I could touch their rifles with my stick which was only a couple of feet long."
That's right, two bullets through one eyeball. After the battle De Wiart was taken back to Britain where he had what was left of his left eye removed. By this point it was early 1915 and World War 1 was in full swing and De Wiart was informed that he could only go if he wore a glass eye (they didn't want the Germans to think they forced to use one eyed officers), De Wiart agreed and as he left the Medical Board he took out his eye and threw it away.
He fought at Passchendaele, Somme, Arras and Cambrai. Inevitably he was wounded multiple times, specifically: Bullet in the back of the head, bullet in the ankle, shrapnel in the hip (almost taking his leg off), bullet in the hand (the hand was eventually removed) and countless near misses including one occasion when he refused to duck as a shell landed near him, blowing the man next to him (who did duck) to pieces while leaving De Wiart himself unharmed. He was awarded the VC, the DSO and was mentioned in dispatches 6 times, at one point he met the King of England who was outraged to discover that De Wiart was not even a British Citizen (which should have barred him from being in the Army). He also met the Belgian King, however this was fairly inevitable seeing as De Wiart's 2 closest cousins were the Belgian Prime Minister and Secretary to the King.
Following the war De Wiart was attached to the British Military Mission to the new country of Poland which had immediately been invaded by Lithuania, Czechoslovakia, Communist Russia and Ukraine. At the time of being appointed to this position De Wiart did not know anything about Poland. Shortly after his attachment the leader of the Mission, General Botha, was taken ill and had to return to Britain leaving De Wiart in charge, General Botha never returned (because he was dead).
It must be first made clear that De Wiart had never worked as a diplomat, had never been to Poland and was in many ways not qualified for this position, however this is the British Empire where complete lack of ability was no reason not to be put in a position of authority. What basically happened, according to De Wiart, was the British refused to help the Polish in any way and De Wiart lobbied persistently in favor of helping the Polish, which made the British government look bad. Due to the fact that the British weren't supplying any weapons or ammunition De Wiart began running guns into the country via Hungary inside of his diplomatic train (which wouldn't be searched).
Eventually the British supplied some weapons and by by 1925 Poland had defeated all its neighbors and taken a whole ton of land and so De Wiart decided to resign his post as he believed he was no longer needed.By this point the Polish Aristocracy loved De Wiart because he lobbied for them in their various wars and so Prince Charles Radziwill invited De Wiart to stay with him in a swamp in what is today western Belarus. From then until 1939 he basically just shot at anything that it was legal to kill, every single day, Wikipedia claims that he shot 20,000 ducks between 1925 and 1939. He gave all wildlife he killed to the local peasants who were delighted at the free food. One thing worth noting is that during this time Eastern Poland was sort of like the Wild West, in other words full of bandits. This is shown in his autobiography:
"There were bandits in the forest, and rumored to be in our neighborhood, and my two keepers were frightened to death. I told them to sleep in my house, but they preferred to stay in their own cottages. Then they asked what I would do if the bandits made them come to my house, under the pretext of getting the door open. When I answered: 'Shoot through the door', they hastily concluded that I was the more dangerous of the two and promptly came and slept in the house."
1939 - 1941
With war clearly on the way De Wiart resumed his old position as head of the Mission to Poland, where he advised the Polish Military on how to fight against the Third Reich and the Soviet Union simultaneously. Many of his suggestions were dismissed, however his suggestion that the Polish Navy leave the Baltic was taken up and the modern ships proved useful later. De Wiart escaped Poland to Romania with the rest of the Mission, he was welcomed by the pro-Allies Prime Minister who gave him a plane to fly to British Egypt, on the same day that De Wiart left the Romanian Prime Minister was assassinated and replaced by some Nazi.
After returning to Britain De Wiart was immediately given the command of the same Infantry Division he had commanded in WW1 and was sent to Norway as part of the Namsos Campaign. De Wiart had no chance to actually meet his troops before arriving in Norway, and knowing your troops is really important. The whole campaign was basically a catastrophe as De Wiart had no air support, no transport (especially important because Norway was under 4 feet of snow), no artillery and was out numbered. He was told to hold his position in Norway for political reasons, despite the fact that there was no chance of achieving anything (because of this Norway gives Britain a christmas tree every year, totally worth it). After being evacuated by Louis Mountbatten, who went on to become the last British Raj and was shot by IRA, De Wiart returned to Britain on May the 5th 1940, his 60th Birthday.
After this he was sent to Ireland, however he was told by some bastard that he was too old to be in charge of an active division and was forced to leave. Though not long later the Yugoslavians switched teams and joined the Allies and De Wiart was made head of the British Military Mission to Yugoslavia.
1941 - 1943
De Wiart never actually made it to Yugoslavia as the engines of the plane he was in stopped working properly off the coast of Italian controlled Libya, shortly after crashing and swimming to the shore De Wiart and the rest of the people on the plane were taken captive by the Italians. De Wiart was held until 1943 when the Italians switched teams.
De Wiart was held in an important P.O.W (V.I.P.O.W?) camp with all the other British Generals who had been captured by the Italians, including General Neame who had earned both a VC and an Olympic Gold Medal and General O'Connor who took 36,000 British soldiers against 150,000 Italian soldiers and won. While being held by the Italians De Wiart and his awesome new friends decided to escape by tunneling out of the P.O.W camp, which was basically the Italian version of Colditz (I imagine it was not as effective but prettier to look at, and the food was probably better as well). After months of digging De Wiart and 7 other prisoners escaped and started making their way to freedom, De Wiart himself evaded capture for 8 days before being caught 150 miles away from where he had started. It is important to state at this point that De Wiart was in his early 60s, had one hand, one eye, a glorious mustache and neither spoke nor understood a word of Italian, I cannot imagine that he blended seamlessly into the Italian population.
When Italy was negotiating its surrender to the Allies in 1943 the Italians needed a British representative to send along with the Italian official, they chose De Wiart. After helping to negotiate the Italian surrender, for which he was briefly received in the UK as a hero, one of De Wiart's admirers invited him round to his country house to stay the night. That admirer was Winston Churchill.
1943 - 1963
That evening De Wiart was invited to serve as Winston Churchill's personal representative to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, a position which De Wiart accepted. After being briefed of his duties De Wiart was sent first to Egypt and then to East India, where he met and became friends with, amongst other people, the genuinely insane Orde Wingate (Wingate used to carry an onion tied to piece of string around his neck which he would occasionally bite into as a snack). Eventually he flew to China where he met Chiang Kai-Shek, who like Churchill came to greatly admire De Wiart going so far as to offer him a job as personal adviser after WW2 ended. It was while De Wiart was working in China that he had the pleasure of meeting Mao Tse Tung, who by 1970 had caused the deaths of around 70 million people, and during dinner De Wiart interrupted Mao in order tell him off.
After Winston Churchill's defeat in the 1945 election he was replaced with Clement Attlee (Churchill once referred to Attlee as a "Sheep in sheep's clothing"), Attlee decided to retain the services of De Wiart, however in 1946 while he was staying in Burma he fell down the stairs and broke his back. Following his injury De Wiart resigned to resign his post and retired to Ireland with his third wife, who happened to be 25 years younger than him, where he continued to shoot things on a daily basis. He died on the 5th of June 1963.
Posterity, Where the Fuck Are You?
If you go to Google right now and search "Adrian Carton De Wiart" you will get less than 2,500 results, are you fucking kidding me? If you go to Google and search "Cock and Ball Torture" you get 473,000 results, the Internet's priorities are just plain wrong.
The guy is a fucking war hero, and he negotiated the surrender of Italy, and he told Mao Tse Tung to go fuck himself (probably), why isn't his face printed on money? Why isn't his birthday a national holiday? If you've read all this so far then you've now got a valid reason to take a day off on May 5th.
P.S. My grandfather Victor D also fought in WWII - D-Day!