Two world wars, innumerable injuries, incredible bravery: The story of a Victoria Cross hero


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The Independent Online

Some war veteran stories get made into Hollywood films, but there's enough material for a whole saga in the extraordinary life of Lieutenant General de Wiart - whose incredible tale has just been revealed.

Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart was shot eight times in the First World War, lost an eye and a hand, and won the Victoria cross for extraordinary bravery.

Despite having seen enough action to last other men a lifetime, his spirit was undimmed. "Frankly, I enjoyed the war", he wrote in his autobiography Happy Odyssey.

By 1938 and the breakout of the Second World War Carton de Wiart was an officer in his sixties - but none the less robust.

On an ill-fated Yugoslavian mission the plane he was travelling in crashed into the Mediterranean sea, putting Carton de Wiart - who swam ashore - straight into enemy hands.

The officer attempted to escape five times from the Italian PoW camp he landed up in - on one occasion eluding capture for eight days, despite his conspicuous eye-patch and lack of Italian.

Born in 1880, Carton de Wiart died in 1963. As the saying goes, they don't make 'em like that anymore.