Adrian Carton de Wiart would go down in history as the “unkillable soldier”. Why? Because he was unkillable. Fighting in countless battles in the First and Second world wars, he sustained countless injuries that should have killed the man. However, it took until 1963, when he was 83, for the man to die, proving that he might not have been unkillable.

Born in 1880 in Brussels, Belgium, to Irish and Belgian parents, he was granted into aristocratic society, believed to be an illegitimate child of Belgian King Leopold II. He spent the early years of his life living between England and Belgium. When his mother “died” in 1886, his father moved him to Cairo, Egypt. The reality of the fact is that his mother and father got divorced, and his father moved Adrian to Egypt so he could practice in Egypt’s Mixed Courts, which ruled over the country. In 1891, at the age of 11, his mother brought him home to go to Catholic boarding school. After that, he went to College in Oxford, where, from there, he entered the British Army to fight in the Second Boer War in South Africa.

In the Boer war, he sustained his first injuries. He was shot in the stomach and in the groin, and was sent home on injury. This would be the beginning of his tale of surviving injuries that usually wouldn’t be survived. In the First World War, he started out in the Somaliland campaign against the Dervish. Whilst attacking the Somali fort at Shimber Berris, he was shot at yet again, with two at his head; one taking out his eye and the other a portion of his ear. In 1915, he set course for the Western Front of WW1. There, he would command three infantry battalions successively, and was wounded seven more times. He lost his left hand in 1915, and pulled his fingers off when a doctor refused to amputate them. His shot wounds consisted of one through the skull and through his ankle in the Somme, through his hip in Passchendaele, through his leg at the Battle of Cambrai, and through the ear at Arras.

He was awarded countless medals during his career, with the Victoria Cross being awarded to him in 1916, the Croix de Guerre & the Companion of the Order of St. Michael and St. George in 1918. His career did not end here, however. He would fight against Germany in Poland in WW2, as well as serving in the British Raj during the Japanese invasion in the 1940s, eventually being present at the signing of the surrender by Japan in late 1945.

In total, he would earn 23 medals, consisting of; The Victoria Cross (1916), Order of the British Empire (1945), Order of the Bath (1919), Order of St Michael and St George (1918), Distinguished Service Order (1915), Queen’s South Africa Medal (1901), Africa General Service Medal (1914), 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal (1918), 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Burma Star, Italy Star, War Medal 1939-1945, King George VI Coronation Medal (1937), Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal (1953), Belgian Order of the Crown (1917), Croix de Guerre (1918), Polish Order of Military Virtue (1920), Cross of Valour (Poland) (1920, 1941), Commander of the Legion of Honour, Croix de Guerre (1946).

He died with his wife in Cork County, Ireland, in 1963, aged 83. His memory lives on in the Swedish heavy metal band Sabaton’s song “The Unkillable Soldier”. As the song says; No fear of death, he is forged for the war, he will always keep coming for more. In his memoirs, Adrian wrote “Frankly, I enjoyed the war.” You can see why his name went down in history.