USA people – Neutonic restock is arriving within a few weeks!! Soon you will finally have an unlimited supply.
This is a longer email than usual but it’s worth it. Strap in.
I have a new man crush.
He died 60 years ago but you need to know his name.
Lieutenant-General Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart was a British Army officer born in Belgium on May 5th 1880.
He is one of the most decorated British soldiers of all time and was awarded 31 medals including the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour “in the face of the enemy”.
He served in the Boer War, First World War, and Second World War.
He was shot in the face, head, stomach, ankle, leg, hip, groin and ear; was blinded in his left eye which he took two bullets in; survived four plane crashes; tunnelled out of a prisoner-of-war camp with one arm; rode into battle on a camel; was so strong he could rip a deck of cards in half; and tore off his own fingers when a doctor declined to amputate them.
Born to an aristocratic family in Belgium, Carton de Wiart attended Balliol College in Oxford to fulfil his father’s wishes of him going into law.
Instead, at 19 he snook away from Oxford without telling his father, to join the Boer War.
He faked his name and age to be accepted as a volunteer and was dispatched to South Africa, his father still unaware of his absence.
He was shot in the stomach and groin during an ambush.
When asked by a commanding officer if there were many Boers around he replied “No, but the few were very good shots”.
He was returned to Britain to recover where his father accepted his military career before being redeployed back to South Africa.
He was promoted to corporal for 24 hours before he was demoted back to trooper for threatening to punch a sergeant.
He lead a squadron of the Somaliland Camel Corps, literally on camel-back into an assault on an enemy fort.
He was shot 3 times in the face; losing an ear and an eye before a ricocheting bullet hit him again, in the same eye.
de Wiart’s summary of the battle was “it had all been most exhilarating fun!”
The Army Medical Commission said he was permitted be deployed to the Western Front if he’d wear a glass eye, to which he agreed.
Before immediately throwing the eye out of the window of a taxi in London to replace it with a signature eye patch which he’d wear for the rest of his life.
In his first battle of WWI at The Second Battle of Ypres he came under artillery fire.
de Wiart’s left hand was hit by shrapnel and fragments from his own wristwatch which destroyed everything except his palm and two dangling fingers.
When the field doctor hesitated to amputate them, de Wiart just tore off the two remaining fingers himself.
The lower arm was later amputed.
Unsatisfied with watching from the sidelines, he asked to be redeployed again, this time to the Battle of the Somme.
British soldiers reported seeing de Wiart pulling pins from grenades with his teeth before throwing them at the enemy and firing and reloading his revolver with just one hand.
During the assault on the village of La Boiselle, France, he took command of 3 leaderless units.
With no field radios or telephones he decided to be his own messenger by running back and forth between all 3 units through enemy gunfire to give his orders.
He was awarded the Victoria Cross “for most conspicuous bravery, coolness, and determination during severe operations of prolonged nature”.
He was then shot through the back of the head.
In 3 subsequent battles he was shot in the ankle, hip, leg and ear.
After each stay in hospital he just regained full mobility and returned to battle.
Now after the victory of World War 1, could he finally rest up and enjoy his retirement?
He was recalled into service in 1940, despite now being 60 years old and a one-eyed amputee.
Shortly after, a plane he was travelling in was shot down by a German fighter plane over a fjord.
Rather than get into an emergency rubber dinghy where the circling enemy aircraft could have picked him and his crew off, de Wiart treaded water with one arm until the plane ran out of ammo and left.
After being picked up by the Navy, he was redeployed on a secret mission personally planned by Winston Churchill.
This time the Wellington Bomber he was travelling in crash landed into the Mediterranean Sea.
de Wiart then swam to shore, with one arm, while also carrying an injured comrade, who survived.
He was immediately taken prisoner by the Italians and sent to the highest security prisoner of war camp for officers in Vincigliata near Florence.
He was a part of at least five escape attempts, one of which involved digging a 60ft tunnel under the castle walls.
After 7 months of tunnel digging WITH ONE ARM, de Wiart and 5 other prisoners escaped.
He then evaded capture for 8 days disguised as an Italian peasant in Northern Italy despite the fact that he couldn’t speak Italian and was 62 years old with an eye patch, one empty sleeve and multiple injuries and scars.
He was then recaptured but surprisingly ended up being used by the Italians to facilitate their armistice with the Allies.
Having been a prisoner of war for months at this point, Carton de Wiart was not dressed appropriately for meetings with dignitaries so the Italians offered to purchase him a suit from an Italian tailor in Rome to which he protested unless it was a suit from Saville Row because he “didn’t want to look like a gigolo”.
He then became Chuchill’s head of relations with China before retiring.
He died on June 5th 1963 at his family estate in Ireland.
Describing his experiences, he wrote, “Frankly, I had enjoyed the war.”
When people ask why I’m not cynical about the future, it’s because of men like Sir Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart.
I adore these stories because it shows the limitless resilience of humans.
You can cope with whatever life throws at you.
And if you can’t, just tear your own fingers off and keep going.
(h/t to Biographics for their amazing research on this guy)
This week’s upcoming episodes:
Dr Mike Israetel – absolutely outstanding breakdown of the science of training for muscle-gain. Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about what to do and what not to do in the gym. Don’t miss this.
Brad Wilcox – is marriage a bad deal for men and women? The internet would tell you yes. What does the research suggest? Brad’s surveys are fascinating. Awesome ep.
Morgan Housel – one of my favourite writers drops 2 hours of great insights on human nature, happiness, wealth, psychology and more.
THINGS I’VE LEARNED
Married people are happier.
Adults who are married report being far happier than those in any other relationship status, according to a Gallup Poll published Friday.
“Any way you analyse those data, we see a fairly large and notable advantage to being married in terms of how people evaluate their life” — poll author Jonathan Rothwell, principal economist at Gallup.
From 2009 to 2023, more than 2.5 million adults in the United States were asked how they would rate their current life, with zero being the worst possible rating and 10 being the highest.
Researchers then asked respondents what they anticipated their happiness level would be in five years.
To be considered thriving, a person had to rank their current life as a seven or higher and their anticipated future as an eight or higher, according to the survey.
Over the survey period, married people consistently reported their happiness levels higher than their unmarried counterparts, ranging from 12% to 24% higher depending on the year, according to the data.
The gap remained when researchers adjusted for factors such as age, race, ethnicity, gender and education.
Education is a strong predictor of happiness, but the data showed that married adults who did not attend high school evaluate their lives more favourably than unmarried adults with a graduate degree.
“Things like race and age and gender and education matter.
But marriage seems to matter more than those things when it comes to something like this measure of living your best life” — Brad Wilcox
“Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work.” — Chuck Close
The secret to dealing with people who imitate your work.
“There’s only one way I know to beat people who copy you: get bigger.
It’s not through direct conflict, but by making them shrink into irrelevance in comparison.” — Alex Hormozi
Be that guy.
Even if you’re not feeling it, find that dog in you today.
Even if you’re tired or down or sad or burned out, be that guy.
Lean into your discomfort.
Move toward your fears.
Do the thing.
Believe your capacity is greater than it is.
Just for today, channel your inner Adrian Paul Ghislain Carton de Wiart.
Keep your eyes on the internet toward the end of this week.