The man who couldn't be killed.
What kind of man fights in 4 different wars spanning over 4 decades? What kind of man sustains injuries that include blast injuries that shattered his left hand, gun-shot wounds to the stomach, gun-shot wounds to the face, gun-shot wounds to the hip, gun-shot wounds to the leg, gun-shot wounds to the ankle, gun-shot wounds to the back of the head – injuries resulting in the self-amputation of two fingers, the loss of one hand, an eye, and a lung; has his plane shot down, lives in captivity for over 7 months – and despite all of the above fondly reminisces that “frankly I had enjoyed the war”?
The kind of man that is Adrian Carton de Wiart.
The life of ultra-wealthy Belgian nobility that he was born into, clearly wasn’t the life young Adrian wanted – which is probably why he ran away from his Catholic boarding school, and like so many great war heroes start out, headed straight to the nearest British Army recruitment office. Here he would go through the late 1800’s equivalent of convincing the recruitment officer his name was ‘McLovin’ which bought Adrian a ticket to his first war – The Second Boer war. Here McLovin would lead Bayonette charges against Boer Kommandos and get shot in the groin and lung – substantial injuries that got him sent back to Britain where he finally came clean his name wasn’t McLovin. He then would commission as an actual officer in the British army until the war ended in 1902. From here he went to Oxford university, married an Austrian Countess whom he had 2 daughters with, and lived as an Aristocrat.
This life however was never the life for Adrian Carton de Wiart; But luckily for Adrian, the dawn of a new age of war-fighting was near.
At the outbreak of WW1 Adrian clean fucked off his wife and daughters and immediately re-enlisted. Due to his previous experiences of combat he was assigned to the East Africa Camel Corps. This rather bizarre sounding unit of old school desert fighters were actually about as bad-ass it gets. Tasked with quelling a rebellion in British Somaliland, led by who the British Dubbed “the Mad Mullah” (Mohammad Bin Abdullah, who castrated his own fighters for cowardice) De Wiart would essentially lead Camel back Commando raids against enemy positions; and it was here while scaling the walls of enemy forts with a revolver and committing general acts of hard-fuckery that he would get shot in the face twice, losing his eye and part of his ear. Only in the eyes (or eye) of a triple hard bastard could this be taken as good news – but bearing in mind Adrian was the kind of man that celebrated life changing injuries and disastrous news with copious amounts of wine, it comes as no surprise that this news was music to his ears (or ear). As this news resulted in being sent home and given a glass eye - which he drunkenly threw out of a taxi window and opted for the pirate option of an eye patch. This news also resulted in him getting a ticket to France, where the most brutal war in history was waging, and where Adrian assessed “the real action was at”.
During the Second Battle of Ypres Adrian would have has hand shattered by German artillery. Worried he would miss out on any action by the injury getting infected he went to a field hospital to get two of the fingers amputated. The doctors refused, so the one-eyed Commander amputated them himself, which didn’t matter too much because later on in the year the whole hand needed to be amputated; Just in time for the battle of the Somme, where there were reports from the men of a one-handed Commander wearing an eye patch pulling grenade pins out of grenades with his teeth and throwing them into enemy positions.
Later on, in 1916 the Pirate Commander was leading the 8thGloucestershire Regiment in a bayonette charge during the Battle of Boiselle when 3 other unit commanders were killed. Adrian then took charge of all 4 Units – Running up and down the lines barking orders, successfully holding of the German counter attack as German bullets whizzed past his eye patch. For this he was awarded the Victoria Cross, an award he humbly made no mention of in his memoirs, claiming “it had been won by the 8thGlosters, for every man has done as much as I have”.
Adrian went on to fight through the rest of the war. In total he got shot/blown up 8 separate times whilst leading infantry into battle – including what should have been a fatal gun-shot wound to the back of the head. When asked about his time during the bloodiest war in human history he replied, “Frankly I enjoyed the war”.
In 1920 Adrian was sent to Poland to help advise the crown. His time here was pretty average really – He survived 2 plane crashes, he ran a gun smuggling ring to bring weapons into Poland to help fight the communists, participated in a duel against Carl Gustav (future overall leader of Finnish forces in WW2), shot his way out of Warsaw on an express train as a band of Cossack Cavalrymen tried to arrest and execute him. Aside from the above Adrian would spend his time hunting ducks with one arm and a shotgun on his rather large estate on the polish border.
Adrian’s Duck hunting days however were numbered, as Europe yet again was about to be plunged into times of War.
When the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939 and blew up Adrian’s estate there was only one thing for it. Whilst getting strafed by German Stukas he made his way out of Poland; and despite being a British/Belgian man with one hand and an eye patch, travelled through Romania on a fake passport (Probably under the name McLovin) to finally reach British soil again. Here, yet again he would reveal to British authorities his name wasn’t McLovin and re-enlist in the British army; and now with his retirement clean fucked off alongside his Austrian Countess wife and two daughters, he would lead British Commando raids against the fascist invaders of Europe.
In 1940 Adrian would lead a Raid into Norway, to re-take Trondheim from the Nazis. Things didn’t really go to plan, and when the promised naval/air support and reinforcements never showed up it was time for De Wiart and his merry band of lunatics to do a runner. Chased by German ski troops through the snowy mountains of Norway, whilst being strafed by the Luftwaffe and shelled by German destroyers this band of warriors actually made it back to an extraction point with the Royal Navy to get back to England – Just in time For Adrian’s 60th Birthday.
In 1941, appointed by Winston Churchill himself, General Adrian Carton de Wiart would lead the British mission in Yugoslavia. Unfortunately for the General and his RAF Crew the plane decided to wrap its tits in and nosedive into the Mediterranean ocean. Helping an injured comrade the 60-year-old General along with his RAF crew swam to shore. A Libyan shore. A Libyan shore that was unfortunately held by fascists of the Italian variety. Italian fascists who clearly didn’t believe in free bus passes for pensioners, because Adrian was thrown into captivity into the POW camp that was Vincigliata Castle. With not a single fuck given since 1899 he proceeded to dig an escape tunnel over a 7-month period, which he and 6 others would use to escape their fascist captors. Unfortunately, it turned out that being a one handed 60-year-old wearing an eye patch, as well as being distinctively British with a slight Belgian undertone… Well, clearly, he was swiftly recaptured. Fortunately, the Italians had decided they wanted to switch sides – and in war, what better bargaining chip than a General?
Having been back on British soil less than a month Adrian was sent to China as the special envoy to the Chinese leader. During this final four-year period, he would survive yet another plane crash. On his way back to Britain and actual retirement he stopped off in Rangoon, where he drunkenly fell down some stairs and broke his back.
Adrian Carton de Wiart would go on to write up his life story in his memoirs, hilariously titled “Happy Odyssey”. Winston Churchill even wrote the foreword for it. In the entire Book there is literally not a single mention or even reference to the fact that he had an Austrian Countess wife and two daughters.
Adrian would finally pass away in 1963, at the age of 83, having spent his final years fishing and in peace.