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"Happy Odessy" by Sir Adrian Carton De Wiart VC


The Scorer
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I bought this book whilst visiting the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum in Gloucester Docks yesterday.

It was inspired by seeing Sir Adrian's medal group in the museum (they're on loan from the National Army Museum), although I have long wanted to know more about him. So, it's now on the list of books to read .... I'll get there soon!

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It's an impressive group , certainly earnt them

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Yes, it certainly sounds like it.

Mind you, I expressed my view that he was a complete nut case (brave, but still a nut case) to the person in the shop at the museum, and he agreed with me!

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Yes, it certainly sounds like it.

Mind you, I expressed my view that he was a complete nut case (brave, but still a nut case) to the person in the shop at the museum, and he agreed with me!

When you read the book you won't change your mind!

David

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Eccentric maybe, but complete nutcase is a little unfair. Perhaps the British Army's equivalent to Poirot?

Charles M

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Is the book currently available, then?

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It was reprinted by Pen & Sword in 2007 in paperback, lots of copies available on Amazon, the title is 'Happy Odyssey'.

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It's also available in Kindle format

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It's in the waiting pile. Apparently he omits to mention the little matter of his winning a VC...

Bernard

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Thanks for that. I think I'll add it to the pile.

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It's in the waiting pile. Apparently he omits to mention the little matter of his winning a VC...

Bernard

Yes, the chap at the shop said that as well ... very strange!

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I am part way through reading Happy Odyssey and have to say it is a cracking read so far.

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I think he was the model for the character Richie Hook in Waugh's 'Sword of Honour' trilogy?

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For a quick view of an amazing character have a look at his Wiki entry, not least his medal ribbons. Amazing. Looks like he got more gongs than a Yank after basic training!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I read this whilst I was away last week - it's often the best way to find the time!

It's an amazing book, but one that tells a very understated story. It's true that he omits the award of his VC, merely saying that he was given command of the 8th Battalion, the Gloucestershire Regiment, was given the task of taking La Boisselle (task carried out) and was injured again!

There's no mention of what he did to be awarded his VC, but here's the citation:

"Capt. (temp. Lt.-Col.) Adrian Carton de Wiart, D.S.O., Dn. Gds. For most conspicuous bravery, coolness and determination during severe operations of a prolonged nature. 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. London Gazette, 9th September 1916."

There's actually more in the book about his Mission to Poland and his subsequent period there as a civilian before the Second World War, along with his Second World War captivity than there is about The Somme! He's also pretty calm about his injuries - which included eight wounds and the loss of an eye and one hand!

Finally, he's a real name-dropper - but, I suppose when you worked with and for so many top people, that's inevitable. It's a very good book,and I recommend it.

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I mention him in my La Boisselle talk and make the point that he appears to be the 'quintessential Englishman'

After talking about his actions at La Boisselle I mention the fact that he hadn't a drop of British blood in him and his only link to Britain was through an Irish Grandmother.

He was a 'Belgian Brit'

He also pulled his own fingers off his badly injured hand.

Sean

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