One British soldier accomplished an extraordinary feat. He was able to cheat death more than most thought was possible, and it earned him the title “The Unkillable Soldier.”
It begs the question: was Lieutenant General Adrian Carton de Wiart talented, lucky, or a little bit of both? He served in World War I & II and the second Boer War.
He was shot at least seven times, survived multiple plane crashes, was a prisoner of war (and escaped), and when a doctor wouldn’t, he amputated his fingers. If you thought that was amazing, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
His stories were incredible, and even more so was the fact that he lived a long life and could recount them all. His first war was the Boer War.
Carton de Wiart was not old enough to join the British military, so he made up an identity and headed to South Africa to fight. He was shot twice- once in the stomach and once in the groin. Due to his injuries, he went back to England.
WWI & WWII
In WWI, he participated in six missions and received eight wounds. The bullets hit his arm and face, taking out a large portion of his ear and left eye.
He did get a Distinguished Service Order and went to Park Lane to heal in the infirmary. He had been there so often that they had a pair of pajamas ready for him. While he was fitted for a glass eye, he thought it was not comfortable and chose to wear an eye patch.
German artillery also damaged Carton de Wiart’s hand. But, the doctor would not amputate, so he took two off on his own. Eventually, he would lose his entire hand. Carton de Wiart was ready to fight for England again in WWII despite his injuries. He led the men donning a black eye patch and a thick mustache with a fearless attitude.
Though, some actions bordered on recklessness. He would pull grenade pins and throw them. However, he did earn a Victoria Cross. His plane was shot down in the Mediterranean, and the Italians took him prisoner. It took two years for him to be released, and he went to work in China afterward.
He wrote an autobiography titled Happy Odyssey, covering all his adventures. He died at the age of 83 in 1963.