Harry Paget Flashman ..an all round bounder, perhaps a cad too ~
Every now and again, God throws on this planet a human being who is so fuckin’ crazy and whose exploits are so outlandish that it’s hard to believe he could have ever really walked on this earth. Adrian Carton de Wiart, who was shot numerous times and was minus an eye and an arm by the end of his life, was just such a badass.
Born on May 5, 1880 in Brussels, Carton de Wiart may have been a bastard son of the King of Belgium, Leopold II. After joining the British Army around 1899 under a fake name and using a fake age, he fought in the Boer War in South Africa until he was seriously wounded in the chest. Although, Carton de Wiart was sent home to recover, he eventually returned to South Africa in 1901 where he served with the Second Imperial Light Horse and 4th Dragoon Guards.
Carton de Wiart next fought in World War I. First, he lost his left eye after being shot in the face during an attack on a Shimber Berris fort in Somaliland in 1914. Then, because he was apparently a glutton for punishment, Carton de Wiart headed to the Western Front in 1915, where he would suffer gunshot wounds to his skull, an ankle, his hip, a leg and an ear. For years afterwards, his body would expel bits of shrapnel. Carton de Wiart would also lose a hand, but not before tearing some damaged fingers off by himself. Even after suffering all of these horrendous wounds, Carton de Wiart commented in Happy Odyssey, his autobiography, “Frankly, I had enjoyed the war.”
The 36-year-old lieutenant-colonel was awarded a Victoria Cross, the highest British military decoration, for his actions during fighting that occurred at La Boiselle in France on July 2 and 3 in 1916. The citation for his award read as follows: “He displayed conspicuous bravery, coolness and determination in forcing home the attack, thereby averting a serious reverse. After the other Battalion Commanders had become casualties, he controlled their commands, as well, frequently exposing himself to the intense barrage of enemy fire. His energy and courage was an inspiration to us all.”
Between World War I and World War II, Carton de Wiart — who was by now quite the sight, sporting a black eyepatch and an empty sleeve — would serve on the British Military Mission in Poland. In 1939, he would escape this country just as both the Soviets, who were allied with the Germans at that time, attacked Poland.
Even with one eye and one hand, there was no way that Carton de Wiart was going to miss seeing action in World War II. Although, he fought bravely, he was told at one point that he was too old to command anymore. However, that decision was reversed rather quickly, and he was made the head of the British Military Mission to Yugoslavia in April 1941.
Unfortunately, en route to his new command, Carton de Wiart’s plane crashed into the sea. Although the 61-year-old Carton de Wiart was able to swim to shore, he and the others with him were captured by the Italians. While a prisoner of war, Carton de Wiart and four other inmates made five escape attempts. The group even spent seven months trying to tunnel their way to freedom. During one escape attempt, Carton de Wiart was able to elude capture for about eight days even though he didn’t speak Italian. Carton de Wiart was finally released in August of 1943.
From October 1943 to his retirement in 1946, Carton de Wiart, who was appointed by Prime Minister Winston Churchill, was the British representative to China.
During his lifetime, Carton de Wiart was married twice, and he also had two daughters with his first wife. Some people believe that Carton de Wiart was the inspiration for the character of Brigadier Ben Ritchie Hook in the Sword of Honour novel trilogy. Over the years, these books would become the basis for one radio show and two television shows.
In 1963, the Grim Reaper finally came to collect Carton de Wiart, the man who had so fiercely cheated him of this task so many times before.
of course old bean..95 per-cent of this is pure 'Boy's Own' elistist shite, aimed at the leisure classes both rich & poor..caputured by the Italians gave the game away, wouldn't one say..hahaHa