The unkillable soldier…a nickname that has deep ramifications, and a nickname no one really wants to have. It indicates that the soldier is wounded multiple times…and somehow survived. General Adrian Carton de Wiart was that soldier. He was born into an aristocratic family in Brussels, on May 5, 1880. He was the eldest son of Léon Constant Ghislain Carton de Wiart and Ernestine Wenzig. He spent his early days in Belgium and in England. When he was six years old, his parents divorced, and he moved with his father to Cairo. His mother remarried Demosthenes Gregory Cuppa later in 1886. His father was a lawyer and magistrate, as well as a director of the Cairo Electric Railways and Heliopolis Oases Company and was well connected in Egyptian governmental circles. Adrian Carton de Wiart learned to speak Arabic. He joined the British Army at the time of the Second Boer War around 1899, where he entered under the false name of “Trooper Carton,” claiming to be 25 years old, but he was actually 20. He was wounded in the stomach and groin in South Africa early in the Second Boer War and was sent home to recuperate. His father was furious when he learned his son had abandoned his studies. Nevertheless, he allowed his son to remain in the army.
In 1908, he married Countess Friederike Maria Karoline Henriette Rosa Sabina Franziska Fugger von Babenhausen (1887 – 1949), eldest daughter of Karl, 5th Fürst (Prince) von Fugger-Babenhausen and Princess Eleonora zu Hohenlohe-Bartenstein und Jagstberg of Klagenfurt, Austria. They had two daughters, the elder of whom Anita (born 1909, now deceased) was the maternal grandmother of the war correspondent Anthony Loyd (born 1966). I wonder if Loyd was inspired by his grandfather’s story.
Over the course of his career, General Adrian Carton de Wiart earned the nickname “the unkillable soldier.” By 1915, he was promoted to captain and had already survived his first war…the Boer War. One night, near the French battlefield of Ypres, he and a small group of officers wandered too far into enemy territory and ran into a group of German soldiers, who fired. De Wiart was badly shot in the hand but scrambled back to his regiment. According to his memoirs, he used a “scarf he’d taken off a slain German soldier to stop the bleeding.” He was taken to a hospital where surgeons debated what to do about the gory mess of dangling fingers that had been his hand. De Wiart said, “I asked the doctor to take my fingers off; he refused, so I pulled them off myself and felt absolutely no pain in doing it.” De Wairt’s injuries were not over yet. The hand became infected and later had to be amputated. Three weeks later, De Wiart and returned to duty. He was shot several more times in his career, survived two plane crashes, and lost an eye. Over the course of four conflicts, he sustained 11 grievous injuries, and simply could not be killed in war.
En route home via French Indochina, Carton de Wiart stopped in Rangoon as a guest of the army commander. Coming down the stairs, he slipped on coconut matting, fell down, broke several vertebrae, and knocked himself unconscious. He was admitted to Rangoon Hospital where he was treated and recovered. His wife died in 1949. Then, in 1951, at the age of 71, he married Ruth Myrtle Muriel Joan McKechnie, a divorcee known as Joan Sutherland, 23 years his junior (born in late 1903, she died January 13, 2006, at the age of 102.) They settled at Aghinagh House, Killinardrish, County Cork, Ireland. Carton de Wiart died at the age of 83 on June 5, 1963. He left no papers. He and his wife Joan are buried in Caum Churchyard just off the main Macroom road. The grave site is just outside the actual graveyard wall on the grounds of his own home.
My nephew, JD Parmely is a single guy who mostly just loves cars, working on cars, and driving cars. For the most part it’s all about the cars for JD. But there is one more…well, really two things that are even more important to JD than his cars. I never thought I would see the day that happened. I think anyone who knows the Parmely family can guess what is more important to JD than cars. Yes…his nieces Reagan and Hattie. JD has always loved kids, and had a great time playing with his younger cousins, but no cousin can hold his heart like his nieces do.
Any man who has kids knows how quickly those kids steal your heart, but girls have a tendency to wrap their daddies around their little finger pretty quickly. While JD doesn’t have kids of his own, he has found out how quickly two little girls can have a major effect on one uncle. A man spends his whole life learning to be a strong man. Nothing is supposed to have an effect on them…right? Wrong!! Enter two little girls, whose smiles can melt your heart in a second. Add to it the fact that these two little girls like some of the same things the uncle does, such as cars and motorcycles, and the fact that they don’t mind getting dirty on the trails they hike, and you find yourself with every ingredient necessary to steal a heart. And that is exactly what those two little girls did.
JD still loves his cars, motorcycles, and mechanical work, and he loves working on the house he bought from his grandparents, but none of these things will ever take the place of those little nieces…and I think JD is totally ok with that. Being uncle to Reagan and Hattie is the highlight of his life. But then he always was a kid at heart. Today is JD’s birthday. Happy birthday JD!! Have a great day!! We love you!!
When our girls were little, Bob was quite smitten with them. So much so, in fact, that all it took was a little smile or giggle to get him to give in to their…requests, and yet, not feel one bit taken in by them. The reality, however, is that he was extremely taken in by them. In fact, he lived wrapped around their tiny little baby fingers…and it didn’t seem to bother him one bit. Bob loved his girls, and they loved their daddy.
We had a little joke that the girls and I played on Bob as they got a little older. If they wanted to do something, or wanted to go somewhere, and Bob seemed to be…undecided, I told the girls to flutter their eyelashes and say, “I love you Daddy.” Needless to say, it worked like a charm. Of course, we wouldn’t have used it on something that he seriously didn’t want to do, but I’m not so sure Bob knew that. Through the years, the girls used their Daddy’s Little Girl trick on Bob quite a bit. Even when it wasn’t necessary. If they wanted a candy bar at the store, or a new pair of jeans, Daddy’s Little Girls sweet talked their dad to get what they wanted. Of course, their love for their dad would never have allowed them to take advantage in any big way…just the ones Bob wanted to give in on anyway.
Being Daddy’s Little Girl does take a certain amount of work too…like watching him work on his truck, or handing him his tools, but the girls were pretty good at that too. As they grew up, Bob got more and more accustomed to his place in life. Corrie and Amy perfected their…controlling touch over Bob’s heart. They could pretty much get anything they wanted…within reason.
Not much has changed over the years. The other night Amy was at the bowling alley, and well…payday wasn’t until today, so she smiled at Bob and said, “Dad, do you want to buy me a beer?” He looked at her like…”Not really!” And in perfect Daddy’s Little Girl style, Amy said, “I love you Daddy!” Yes, she got her beer…what else is new. She’s her Daddy’s Little Girl!!