Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart (1880 – 1963) was a British Army officer who served in the Boer War, WWI, and WWII. He was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; tunneled out of a prisoner-of-war camp; survived two plane crashes, and bit off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them (per wikipedia).
This man could out-roundhouse kick Chuck Norris.
So let’s backtrack. Born in 1880 to an affluent family, he initially studied law at Oxford, but raging testosterone got the better of him and he quit the university in 1899 to get his fighting on in the Second Boer War, aka the Tweede Boereoorlog. He entered the army under the false name of “Trooper Carton”, and claimed to be 25, instead of the teen he was.
After sustaining wounds to the stomach and groin, Carton de Wiart was sent to an invalid home. However, he soldiered up and, in 1901, became an officer in the 4th Royal Dragoon Guards. In 1908, he married Countess Friederike Maria Karoline Henriette Rosa Sabina Franziska Fugger von Babenhausen. You read that right.
In WWI, he fought with the Army’s “Camel Corps” in British Somaliland, tackling an uprising by supporters of Mohammed bin Abdullah, dubbed the “Mad Mullah.” While attacking 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 (Distinguished Service Order). Not one to rest on his silver-gilted medal, he headed out to the bloody trenches of the Western Front to command infantry battalions. In 1915, he lost his left hand after being hit by shrapnel. Despite this loss, he later stated, “Frankly I had enjoyed the war.”
Between world wars, he remained in the military. In 1940, Carton de Wiart was sixty years old, the prime age to lead an operation to take the Norwegian city of Trondheim to halt the German advance. When supply lines collapsed, the mission failed. But Wiart remained undeterred. More battles were to come. While he was busy dodging Nazi bombardment in WWII, a German bomber flattened his London home and all his possessions, including his military medals, were destroyed (per dailymail.co/uk).
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. Once in the water, he thought, “I’m not going out like that,” then paddled ashore with his one good hand, but was captured and sent to a POW camp in Italy. Despite not speaking Italian and having an identifiable eye patch, he made five escape attempts, once eluding capture for eight days. Released in 1943, Winston Churchill sent him as his special representative to China.
Here he is with Churchill and FDR. He’s the one with the eye patch and no hand.
In his memoirs, he wrote, “We are told that the pen is mightier than the sword, but I know which of these weapons I would choose.” He retired in 1947 and died in 1963, aged 83, presumably on stage, dropping the mike, and saying, “Peace out.”