The most decorated man in the British Army in the 20th Century or certainly close to it. Given the various medals handed out during wars, it is difficult to say who is the most decorated. But Lieutenant General Carton de Wiart is certainly in the top five most decorated soldiers of the British Army.
Says Wikipedia: “He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War; was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, and ear; survived two plane crashes; tunnelled out of a prisoner-of-war camp; and tore off his own fingers when a doctor refused to amputate them. Describing his experiences in the First World War, he wrote, “Frankly I had enjoyed the war.”
In great britain, when something official is done it is said to have been “gazetted” since it appears in the official London Gazette. Carton’s Victoria cross was “gazetted’ ON 9 September 1916.
For the award of the Victoria Cross, La Boiselle, France, 2 – 3 July 1916, Captain ( T / Lieutenant Colonel ) Adrian Carton de Wiart, DSO, 4th Dragoon Guards, command 8th Bn, Gloucestershire Regiment.
For most conspicuous bravery, coolness and determination during severe operations of a prolonged nature. ( La Boiselle, France ).
It was owing in a great measure to his dauntless courage and inspiring example that a serious reverse was averted. He displayed the utmost energy and courage in forcing our attack home. After three other battalion Commanders had become casualties, he controlled their commands, and ensured that the ground won was maintained at all costs. He frequently exposed himself in the organisation of positions and of supplies, passing unflinchingly through fire barrage of the most intense nature.hIS GALLANTRY WAS INSPIRING TO ALL.
Adrian Carton de Wiart was invested with his Victoria Cross by King George V at Buckingham Palace on the 29th November 1916.
Lieutenant Colonel Carton de Wiart was awarded the Victoria Cross for the following action: “On 2 July – 3 July 1916, at La Boisselle, France, Lieutenant-Colonel Carton de Wiart’s dauntless courage and inspiration averted what could have been a serious reverse. He displayed the utmost energy in forcing the attack home and after three other battalion commanders had become casualties, he controlled their commands and made sure that the ground was held at all costs. In organising the positions to be held, he exposed himself fearlessly to enemy fire.” Carton de Wiart was born in Belgium.
He joined the British Army and fought during the Boer War of 1899-1902, sustaining a serious chest wound. On the outbreak of the First World War, Carton de Wiart was serving with the Somaliland Camel Corps and engaged in suppressing a rebellion by Mohammed bin Abdullah’s Muslim forces. In an attack upon an enemy fort at Shimber Berris, Carton de Wiart was shot in the face, losing his left eye. He served on the Western Front from 1915, commanding three infantry battalions and a brigade. He was also seriously wounded seven times, losing his left hand in 1915.
Carton de Wiart spent the interwar years in Poland, serving with the British Military Mission between 1919 and 1921 and escaping the country as it was overrun by German and Soviet forces in 1939. He then served in Norway and was en route to take up a command in Yugoslavia when his aircraft was shot down. Carton de Wiart was taken prisoner by the Italians by whom he was released in 1943. He spent the remaining war years in the Far East, witnessing the Japanese surrender at Singapore. Carton de Wiart died in 1963.