This week, Twitter user Matthew Barrett created something of a sensation by linking to the obscure Wikipedia biography of the British army officer Sir Adrian Carton de Wiart. His tweet -- "This guy surely has the best opening paragraph of any Wikipedia biography ever" -- has been retweeted more than 3,200 times over the past several days.
So just how mind-blowing is the introduction on Carton de Wiart's page? Judge for yourself:
Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart VC, KBE, CB, CMG, DSO (5 May 1880 - 5 June 1963), was a British Army officer of Belgian and Irish descent. He fought in the Boer War, World War I and World War II, was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip and ear, survived a plane crash, tunneled out of a POW camp and bit off his own fingers when a doctor wouldn't amputate them. He later said "frankly, I had enjoyed the war."
On Twitter, some are simply in awe, while others are pointing out the rest of the bio is pretty stellar too:
Check Norris is like a wimpy school kid compared to this guy
Find me a more intense wikipedia intro paragraph than this and I will bite my own fingers off
Awesome bio. Once evaded capture disguised as an Italian peasant despite no Italian, one arm, one eye, and at age 61
In 1908 he married Countess Friederike Maria Karoline Henriette Rosa Sabina Franziska Fugger von Babenhausen
So who was this man of extraordinary valour? A Daily Mail profile last year relays much of the same information contained on Carton de Wiart's Wikipedia page: By the end of his life, the British soldier had been awarded his military's highest honour for bravery during the First World War and served in the Second Boer War and the Second World War, commanding troops in a daring Second World War raid in Norway. He wore a black patch to cover a missing eye, and had been wounded in the skull, groin, ankle and stomach. A missing hand betrayed a grisly backstory -- he had once chewed off his own wounded fingers. He had tunneled out of an Italian prisoner-of-war camp, and had wound up there after crashing his plane in the Mediterranean. To top it all off, he had also served as Winston Churchill's special representative to China's Chiang Kai-shek. He had indeed remarked he "enjoyed" the First World War, going on to add "it had given me many bad moments, lots of good ones, plenty of excitement and with everything found for us." (Readers in Britain, you may want to go check out Carton de Wiart's 20-bore, double-barreled shotgun, which just went on display in Leeds.)