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.
I have always loved cats. I like dogs too, but for the most part, I like cats better. I love to watch them play, and love it when they want to cuddle and purr. Maybe it’s because we had some cats when I was very young, but then we had the one dog I can say I truly loved too, King. For the most part, dogs annoy me a little bit, I guess. They are always sniffing and licking you. Cats, on the other hand, might lick you once in a while, if you have something tasty on your hand, but for the most part, they want you to be their slave. You are to pet them, or they will stick their head under your hand so that you are reminded of your job. They are unashamed concerning their plan too. If you have the nerve to leave them alone for longer than they think you should, then you will be subjected to the cold shoulder. How long depends on how quickly you begin to make amends, but know this, they plan to hold out a while.
Most cats feel like their owner is not really their owner, in fact, cats are sure they are the owner. I know that’s how both of my mom’s cats felt about her. Every time we took Mom out of town, they would practically ignore her upon her return. Nevertheless, whenever Mom needed them to be there…they were, whether her little knights in shining armor could do anything to help her or not. They were able to stay right there beside her, with a look of concern, until help arrived. Even though the cats couldn’t do anything for her, her loyal cats stayed by her side, because whether she was the owner or the cat was the owner, her cats loved her very much. I know that dogs have been known to do the same things, but I just found it so sweet that her cats tried so hard to be her super hero.
Maybe that is the reason why I love cats so much. Their cuddly, purring ways, and their need to be with their human, even if it is just to make their human pet them, That may be a bit selfish on the cat’s part, but it is loving too. Cats have, not only the ability crave love, but they are also capable of giving love. The cats my girls had when they were little put up with so much. Our daughters, Corrie Petersen and Amy Royce, were little and rough, but the cats never scratched them intentionally, because they loved them. All they wanted was to be near the girls.
That’s how one of our cats was with me, when I was a little girl. I know that I was probably not a perfect human for our cats, but it didn’t matter. The cat wanted to be with me. It didn’t matter what I was doing, the cat adapted. And I’m quite certain that I felt the exact same as the cat did. I’m not sure how often my cat slept in my crib, but my guess is that it was more than once. It was such a sweet gesture. I expect that it happened often, because, my parents thought it was sweet enough to capture on film. And…I am glad they did.
Monday nights during the school year, basically September to late April or early May, Bob and I bowl on a league at Sunrise Lanes in Casper. There are a few fun things we do there, like bowling poker, pushing nickels, and the high game pot. I don’t often win the poker hand for some reason, but I continue to play anyway. I suppose that the winners vary pretty well, but it does sometimes seem that the same people win a lot. It really doesn’t matter, since it’s only a dollar a game to get in. Obviously, the more cards you get the better your chances of winning, and I’m not a bad bowler, so I usually get enough cards to have a fair shot…since two cards are taken for every strike and converted split, and one for every spare.
I don’t play poker any other time, but in years past, I played Cribbage with my Uncle Bill when he would visit or we would visit there, and Spades with Bob’s grandfather whenever we would go to visit in Forsyth, Montana. Those are always fond memories for me, because these men were two people that I very much enjoyed spending time with. They were also pretty much the only people who I played cards with…not because I refused to play cards with anyone else, but simply because they were the only ones I knew who really played cards much.
As I was gathering my cards to turn them in at the end of the game at bowling on Monday night, I looked at them, and decided that they were really a particularly bad hand. Almost nothing matched, and nothing lined up for a straight or flush either. Without thinking, I made the comment that I had a hand like a foot. That was something I hadn’t thought of in years. I thought that it was Bob’s grandfather who used to call it that, but then I thought maybe it was my Uncle Bill. I honestly am not sure, but I know that I always thought that was quite funny. Nevertheless, it described the hand that I had quite well.
I haven’t played regular cards in a number of years now, but in many ways, I think I miss that. I know it really isn’t about the card game, but about the time spent with those two dear men. We always related so well to each other, and I miss the fun times we had. Bob’s grandfather is gone now, having passed away ten years ago on October 22, 2004. While my Uncle Bill is still living, Alzheimer’s Disease has taken many of his memories away from him now, and I am simply thankful that he knew who we were after we told him that we were his brother’s family, when we visited him recently. Cribbage came up, but I’m not sure he would remember how to play anymore. Whichever of these two dear men used to say, a hand like a foot, no longer really matters, because I don’t think I will ever hear that again, except in my own memory.
Every boy has the same dream at some point…to be as big as their daddy. Of course, it is the little boys who most want that to happen. And it seems like it will just take forever. That’s when most dads try to give their little guys a helping hand, by giving them a lift up. It might be up on their shoulders, or up on a chair, or as in the case of Bob and his dad, a lift up onto the hood of the truck. Bob was so excited, that he was telling his dad, “Look, I’m as big as you, Daddy!”
It something that has been going on for ages. Boys wanting to follow in the footsteps of their fathers…whether it be height, occupation, or just mannerisms. Boys look up to their daddies, and so they should. Daddies are the model that boys use to decide who they will become. It is a big responsibility, and one that should never be taken lightly. Every man wants his children to grow up to be successful, and it is important that children have a role model to follow that will show them how they can achieve success and good moral standards. A dad needs to aspire to be better than he thought he could be so that his children, and especially his sons, in that they tend to look more to their dads as their role models, have a good example to follow. The children of this generation will produce the next generation, so it is important to teach this generation how to teach the next. Many people don’t think about that, or they think that their children will somehow pick up on it…but they won’t unless it is taught.
Yes, it is fun to watch how little boys try so hard to be just like their daddies, but daddies must also take that very seriously, so that they do more than just nourish their son’s body to help him grow up big and strong, but also, nourish his mind and spirit, so he grows up brave, wise, and moral.In reality, it is those traits that will ultimately become the deciding factor in the making of the man their sons will become…and after all, isn’t that the most important thing…not how tall or muscular they are, but what a brave, good, wise, and moral man they are.