Friday, July 19, 2013

Fullbore Friday

So Shipmate, think you've had an interesting career? Think you come from a non-insignificant family? Think you survived the depredations years of service did to your body?

Really? As a benchmark I give you Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO, British Army (b: 5 May 1880 – d: 5 June 1963),
Born in 1880 to a wealthy Belgian family (editorial note; he is thought to be the illigitimate son of Leopold II, King of the Belgians), he studied law at Oxford but in 1899 quit university and went to South Africa.

Giving a false name and age, he enlisted in the British Army and fought in the Second Boer War.

He was wounded in the stomach and groin and invalided home. In 1901, he became an officer in the 4th Royal Dragoon Guards. In the First World War he fought with the Army’s ‘Camel Corps’ in British Somaliland, in east Africa, tackling an uprising by supporters of Mohammed bin Abdullah, dubbed the ‘Mad Mullah’.

In an attack on an enemy fort he was shot in the face and lost his left eye – forcing him to wear a black patch for the rest of his life. His gallantry earned him the DSO.

He then went to the bloody trenches of the Western Front to command infantry battalions. In 1915 he lost his left hand after being hit by shrapnel – but not before he tore off some damaged fingers by himself.

In the Battle of the Somme he was shot in the skull and ankle, but won the VC, the country’s most acclaimed military honour.
The citation describes how, commanding the 8th Battalion the Gloucestershire Regiment at La Boiselle, he displayed ‘dauntless courage’ in a ‘fire barrage of the most intense nature’. In total he was wounded in battle eight times and was mentioned in dispatches on six occasions.

In his autobiography Happy Odyssey, he wrote of the 1914-18 conflict: ‘Frankly, I enjoyed the war; it had given me many bad moments, lots of good ones, plenty of excitement and with everything found for us.’

Between the wars, he served on the British Military Mission in Poland, returning home after the Nazi invasion in 1939.

In 1940, aged 60, he led an operation to take the Norwegian city of Trondheim to halt the German advance but the mission failed when supply lines collapsed.

In 1941, on his way to lead the British Military Mission in Yugoslavia, his plane crashed into the sea a mile off the coast of Libya, an Italian colony. He swam ashore but was captured and sent to a PoW camp in Italy.

He made five escape attempts, once eluding capture for eight days even though he was conspicuous with an eyepatch and did not speak Italian. Released in 1943, Winston Churchill sent him as his special representative to China. He retired in 1947 and died in 1963, aged 83.
Slacker, only a few rows of ribbons.

More here.

Hat tip SL.

UPDATE: I am not one to enjoy gossip concerning one's parentage - yea, right - but I couldn't help but pull the thread on what his contemporaries thought of his paternal line. I would like for you to look at his profile here, and then Leopold II's profile here. Look at the nose.

I am willing to bet one of Skippy's travel claims that the rumors are right; that is one distinctive nose.

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