Frankly, I enjoyed the war!

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by slipperman, Nov 9, 2012.

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  1. With thanks to the Daily Mail. I couldn't find any previous mention of this impressive military legend anywhere else on ARRSE, so reproduce the article. Ahead of Remembrance Sunday, his record of military service is being published for the first time. General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC - the definition of nails!

    "On the battlefields of the First World War he lost an eye and a hand in fierce fighting, won a Victoria Cross for death-defying bravery, and was shot and wounded eight times. In the Second World War, as an officer in his sixties, he came under ferocious Nazi bombardment on an ill-fated mission in Norway, survived a plane crash in the Med and escaped from a PoW camp.
    Back in London, his well-appointed house was flattened by a German bomber and his possessions, including his hard-earned military medals, were destroyed. But did such misfortune sap the morale of Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart? Not a bit of it. After all, this was the man who wrote of the 1914-1918 conflict: ‘Frankly, I enjoyed the war.’
    Now, ahead of Remembrance Sunday, the military records of this extraordinary soldier are being published online for the first time. His details are among 22million newly digitised public and service documents placed on the genealogy websiteGenes Reunited. Even though his military career was one of the most remarkable in the history of the Army, his story has not been widely told.
    Born in 1880 to a wealthy Belgian family, 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."

    Beat that!

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  2. He deserves a place in the Ally thread.
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  3. Are those ten "wound stripes" on his sleeve? Brave, but also incredibly lucky!
  4. He has **** all on "Mad Jack Churchill" IMO

    John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming "Jack" Churchill

    "Mad Jack" Churchill
    Nickname Mad Jack
    Born 16 September 1906 Hong Kong
    Died 8 March 1996 (aged 89) Surrey
    Allegiance United Kingdom
    Service/branch British Army
    Years of service 1926–1936
    Rank Lieutenant Colonel
    Awards Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross

    Churchill stares down the barrel of a captured Belgian 75 mm field gun.
    Lieutenant Colonel John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming "Jack" Churchill, DSO & Bar, MC & Bar (16 September 1906 – 8 March 1996), nicknamed Fighting Jack Churchill and Mad Jack, was a British soldier who fought throughout World War II armed with a longbow, arrows, and a Scottish broadsword. He is known for the motto "any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly armed."

    Born in Hong Kong to English parents and educated at King William's College on the Isle of Man, Churchill graduated from Sandhurst in 1926 and served in Burma with the Manchester Regiment. He left the army in 1936 and worked as a newspaper editor. He used his archery and bagpipe talents to play a small role in the film The Thief of Bagdad.

    Churchill resumed his commission after Poland was invaded. In May 1940 Churchill and his unit, the Manchester Regiment, ambushed a German patrol near L'Epinette, France. Churchill gave the signal to attack by cutting down the enemy Feldwebel (sergeant) with his barbed arrows, becoming the only British soldier known to have felled an enemy with a longbow.[1] After fighting at Dunkirk, he volunteered for the Commandos, unsure of what Commando duty entailed but was interested because it sounded dangerous[citation needed].
    Churchill was second in command of No. 3 Commando in Operation Archery, a raid on the German garrison at Vågsøy, Norway on 27 December 1941.[2] As the ramps fell on the first landing craft, Churchill leapt forward from his position and played a tune on his bagpipes, before throwing a grenade and running into battle in the bay. For his actions at Dunkirk and Vågsøy, Churchill received the Military Cross and Bar.
    In July 1943, as commanding officer, he led 2 Commando from their landing site at Catania in Sicily with his trademark Scottish broadsword slung around his waist, a longbow and arrows around his neck and his bagpipes under his arm.[3] which he also did in the landings at Salerno. Leading 2 Commando, Churchill was ordered to capture a German observation post outside of the town of La Molina, controlling a pass leading down to the Salerno beach-head. He led the attack by 2 and 41 Commandos, infiltrated the town and captured the post, taking 42 prisoners including a mortar squad. Churchill led the men and prisoners back down the pass, with the wounded being carried on carts pushed by German prisoners. He commented that it was "an image from the Napoleonic Wars."[4] He received the Distinguished Service Order for leading this action at Salerno.[5]
    In 1944 he led the Commandos in Yugoslavia, where they supported Josip Broz Tito's Partisans from the Adriatic island of Vis.[6] In May he was ordered to raid the German held island of Brač. He organized a "motley army" of 1,500 Partisans, 43 Commando and one troop from 40 Commando for the raid. The landing was unopposed but on seeing the eyries from which they later encountered German fire, the Partisans decided to defer the attack until the following day. Churchill's bagpipes signalled the remaining Commandos to battle. After being strafed by an RAF Spitfire, Churchill decided to withdraw for the night and to re-launch the attack the following morning.[7] The following morning, one flanking attack was launched by 43 Commando with Churchill leading the elements from 40 Commando. The Partisans remained at the landing area; only Churchill and six others managed to reach the objective. A mortar shell killed or wounded everyone but Churchill, who was playing "Will Ye No Come Back Again?" on his pipes as the Germans advanced. He was knocked unconscious by grenades and captured.[7] He was later flown to Berlin for interrogation and then transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.[citation needed]

    Jack Churchill (far right) leads a training exercise, sword in hand, from a Eureka boat in Inveraray.
    In September 1944 Churchill and a Royal Air Force officer crawled under the wire, through an abandoned drain and attempted to walk to the Baltic coast. They were captured near the coastal city of Rostock, a few kilometres from the sea. In late April 1945 Churchill and about 140 other prominent concentration camp inmates were transferred to Tyrol, guarded by SS troops. A delegation of prisoners told senior German army officers they feared they would be executed. An army unit commanded by Captain Wichard von Alvensleben moved in to protect the prisoners. Outnumbered, the SS guards moved out, leaving the prisoners behind.[8] The prisoners were released and after the departure of the Germans, Churchill walked 150 kilometres (93 mi) to Verona, Italy where he met an American armoured force.[citation needed]
    As the Pacific War was still on, Churchill was sent to Burma,[9] where the largest land battles against Japan were being fought. By the time Churchill reached India, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed and the war ended. Churchill was said to be unhappy with the sudden end of the war, saying: "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years."[9]

    In 1946 Twentieth Century Fox was making Ivanhoe with Churchill’s old rowing companion Robert Taylor. The studio hired Churchill to appear as an archer, shooting from the walls of Warwick Castle.
    After World War II ended, Churchill qualified as a parachutist, transferred to the Seaforth Highlanders, and later ended up in Palestine as second-in-command of 1st Battalion, the Highland Light Infantry. In the spring of 1948, just before the end of the British mandate in the region, Churchill became involved in another conflict. Along with twelve of his soldiers, he attempted to assist the Hadassah medical convoy that came under attack by hundreds of Arabs.[10] Following the massacre, he coordinated the evacuation of 700 Jewish doctors, students and patients from the Hadassah hospital on the Hebrew University campus on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem.
    In later years, Churchill served as an instructor at the land-air warfare school in Australia, where he became a passionate devotee of the surfboard. Back in England, he was the first man to ride the River Severn’s five-foot tidal bore and designed his own board. In retirement, however, his eccentricity continued. He startled train conductors and passengers by throwing his attaché case out of the train window each day on the ride home. He later explained that he was tossing his case into his own back garden so he wouldn’t have to carry it from the station.[10]
    He finally retired from the army in 1959, with two awards of the Distinguished Service Order, and died in Surrey in 1996.
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  5. PA. Impressive, but it's not a competition! :)
  6. (Mad Jack) Churchill was said to be unhappy with the sudden end of the war, saying:

    "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years."

    What a bloody looney!
  7. Is the 1st chap the inspiration for the rather nutty Halberdier general in the 'Sword of Honour' series?
  8. One of them at least.
  9. I would top it but afraid the current trend to Pap 10 someone injured kind of takes the fire out of my belly! :)
  10. TheIronDuke

    TheIronDuke LE Book Reviewer

    No disrespect to the lads rank, knighthood or gong but it is a Boy Named Sue thing. You grow up called Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart and you are going to turn out nails or a simpering wreck. And any parent who names their child Mad Jack is playing with fire in my view.
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  11. Cutaway

    Cutaway LE Reviewer

    So Mummy naming you TheIronDuke is to blame for you milsching like a chimp on Billy ?
    • Like Like x 1
  12. Outstanding OP - many thanks.
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  13. Typically, the Mail misses out half the best bits on de Wiart - and yes, he has most definitely been covered on ARRSE before. Half Belgian for a start, so a good one to have up your sleeve for the old "Name a famous Belgian." Was given a glass eye but did not get on with it, so threw it out of a taxi window in Picadilly. Was wounded so often that a nursing home in London kept a room permanently reserved for him during WW1. Between the wars, given a vast Polish estate near the Pripet Marshes, and went hunting every day - but rather than eat his kills, passed all the dead game to his tenantry. And, whilst embarked with the Royal Navy in the Far East in 1945, sat out on a deck chair whilst the main battery was blasting away at the Japanese during the bombardment of Palembang.
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  14. Thanks for the additional info Ollie. I have just done another search and found the original thread posted by BuggerAll back in 2008. However, I make no apologies for posting again, off the back of the recent article in the Daily Mail and bearing in mind what we all have on our minds this weekend. The man was possibly just the right side of sanity, but is a true legend.
  15. The finale was shortly after his appointment to the Chinese delegation he fell down the stairs and whilst incapacitated for seven months they removed enough metal from him to fill an egg cup!

    He was without doubt on the wrong side of sanity and heavens knows what he would have done without a few good wars.