High Adventure & Derring Do

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Anonymous

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#1
I've been meaning to post a thread on this for a while, but does anyone have any good stories about a dying breed - the intrepid, maybe slightly loony adventurers of the 19th and 20th century. Examples include Mallory, who attempted (and maybe failed) to climb Everest in 1924 in a tweed suit and hiking boots, or something I just came across regarding people being the first to enter a liberated city:
"Ernest Hemmingway claimed to have liberated German-occupied Paris with a pistol, notebook and a round of Dry Martinis ordered from the Ritz as a reward for his band of French Resistance fighters.

"According to the story Hemingway had stood on top of the Arc de Triomphe with Nazi bullets whistling past his ears."

Any more good ones like this?

Smoke me a kipper....I'll be back for breakfast. :cool:
 

intaglio

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#3
The only kipper eater I can think of for the near future is the 1st amateur rocketeer to get themselves into space. It'll be even better if they manage to return
 
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#4
Try reading Soldier Sahibs by Charles Allen or Barrow’s Boys by Fergus Fleming.

The former concerns the group of Brits who fought on India’s North-West Frontier in the mid 18th century some of whom, undeniably brave, bordered on the psychotic.

Barrow’s Boys deals with the post-1816 wave of exploration instituted by John Barrow, Second Secretary of the Admiralty partly, it appears, in response to the post-Napoleonic Wars glut of naval officers with bugger all to do. These were men who willingly consigned themselves to months, sometimes years, trapped in icebound ships which could disintegrate at a moments notice with nothing to do but eat biscuits, read the Bible and watch their superior officers perform amateur dramatics.

Some of the men who attempted to chart the course of the Niger appeared to have taken little more than self-confidence and a packed lunch.

Both well worth the read and both in paperback. (I think).
 

johnnyboy1968

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#5
Dark Detective said:
Ernest Hemmingway claimed to have liberated German-occupied Paris with a pistol, notebook and a round of Dry Martinis ordered from the Ritz as a reward for his band of French Resistance fighters.
Well, not from the distant past, but the BBC's John Simpson apparently made a fairly ludicrous claim to be liberating Kabul ahead of the Northern Alliance the other day on Radio 4's Today programme.

According to the Independent, this was of small consolation to the News 24 bloke who was already there, and who nearly got blown up seconds after finishing his report...
 
A

Anonymous

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#9
Commander C. E. Sampson R.N - virtually single handedly kept the Germans out of Ostend during World War I. Among other adventures he laid ambushes for the Germans that consisted solely of himslef, his driver and a machine gunner, and temporarily liberated Lille with a handful of men.
 

Alexius4

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#10
''They are actually attacking our camp...how quaint!''
An anonymous British officer, viewing the beginning of the Battle of Isandlwana through binos on the Osterberg...

I great source of this genre of maddness is the series of books written by Peter Hopkirk on 'The Great Game'.

Another good one is the Duke of Wellington's exchange with his commander of heavy cavalry at Waterloo (whose name has just slipped...)

BANG! ''My God, sir, you seem to have lost your leg!''
''By God, so I have''

The screen apotheosis of this kind of thing has to be ''The Man Who Would be King'', with ''Zulu'' running it a very close second.

I mean, who wouldn't jump at the chance of a clipped moustache & a commission in the Bengal Lancers? :)
 
A

Anonymous

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#11
Just to expand on that:

Erik the Red skipper 'Iceman' kills shark with bare hands
An Icelandic fishing captain, known as "the Iceman" for his tough character, grabbed a 300 kg shark with his bare hands as it swam in shallow water towards his crew, a witness said today.

The skipper of the trawler "Erik the Red" was on a beach in Kuummiit, east Greenland, watching his crew processing a catch when he saw the shark swimming towards the fish blood and guts - and his men.

Captain Sigurdur Petursson, known to locals as "the Iceman", ran into the shallow water and grabbed the shark by its tail. He dragged it off to dry land and killed it with his knife.

"He caught it just with his hands. There was a lot of blood in the sea and the shark came in and he thought it was dangerous," Frede Kilime, a hunter and fisherman who watched from the beach, told Reuters by phone from Greenland.

Icelandic author and journalist Reynir Traustason, who knows the trawler captain, said the act was typical of the man.


"He's called 'the Iceman' because he isn't scared of anything," he said. "I know the people in that part of the world. They are really tough."

Reuters
http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/10/24/1066631598678.html?oneclick=true

Man Armed With Knife Kills Hungry Bear

WILLIAMS LAKE, British Columbia - John Hirsch went toe-to-claw with a black bear — and won.


Hirsch had only a 3 1/2-inch knife blade when he came across the bear in his backyard in Williams Lake, about 190 miles northeast of Vancouver.


"He came out of nowhere," said Hirsch, 61, an avid hunter and outdoorsman.


"I can remember thinking that he's not stopping — he's coming," said Hirsch. "I just didn't feel I had any place to go."


He was attacked Oct. 29 while checking on the 15 turkeys he and his wife, Sharon, raise on their spread.


As the bear began to circle him, Hirsch faced it like a wrestler in a ring.


"It was like a knife fight that you'd see in an old-time Western," he said. The bear swatted out at him, but each time it lunged, he managed to stab it.


"I couldn't tell you if the fight lasted three seconds or three minutes," Hirsch said.


Three stabs to the bear's chest and one to its neck finally did the bruin in.


It stood about 5 foot 7 inches to Hirsch's 5 feet 9 inches and weighed 200 pounds, according to conservation officers who inspected it.


"I can say it sure looked smaller the next morning than it did during the fight," said Hirsch.


The bear was in poor shape, suffering from a severed tongue and broken jaw, the conservation officer said. Its stomach was empty and the bear had little fat on it.


Hirsch, a retired electrical foreman at B.C. Hydro, suffered a scratch to the top of his head and scratches to his back — and a shredded T-shirt.


As for the battle itself, Hirsch said it never occurred to him that he would lose to the bear.


"I just felt that however long this took, I was going to come out OK," he said. "I always felt that I was at least his equal."
http://members.fortunecity.com/gogodncr/JohnHirsch.html
 
A

Anonymous

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#12
Cape to Cairo Grogan

There was this bloke Grogan, who was the first man to cross Africa from the cape to Cairo. His adventures are amazing. I read a biography of him once and was amazed that his isn't a household name.

He was instrumental in setting up Kenya as a functioning country and played important roles in the Boer war as well as the 1st and (I think) 2nd world wars.

I'll see if I can find out what the book was called or if there are any good Internet links about him.

Movie star looks as well from what I remember.
 

Yithian

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#14
http://www.arnhemarchive.org/robert_cain.htm

Cain appeared to have developed an intense loathing of tanks after the bitter experiences of his Battalion on Tuesday 19th, and he personally saw to it that as many were destroyed as possible...

... On Friday 22nd, his eardrums burst from his constant firing, but he continued to take on any tanks he encountered, contenting himself with merely stuffing pieces of field dressing into his ears. Nevertheless he never ceased to urge his men on, and was seen by his driver, Private Grainger, giving a man his last cigarette.
 

Twin_Star

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#15
Giovanni Belzoni has often been accused of inspiring the character of "Indiana Jones". An Italian who, during his mutli-faceted career, was a circus strongman, Italian emmisary and Egyptologist has an absolutely fascinating tale to tell.

There's a dearth of web-site dedicated to him, so i won't post his precis here.

His story is made all the more poignant for him never receiving the full adulation and respect that was his due. Mainly owing to the fact that a thoroughly repugnant Englishman, by the name of Henry Salt, covered himself with the glory that Belzoni's finds were afforded.
 

TheQuixote

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#16
Sir Richard Burton Biography

although not the first European to complete the hajj to Mecca I believe, he was however the first Englishman to reach there. Going so far as to be circumcised in order to perfect his disguise.

Explorer, adventurer and probably more famous as a translator of The Book of The Thousand and One Nights, he got kicked out of Oxford University for duelling with someone who insulted his moustache.

I've also read that his wife, after he had died, had his heart animated by a battery so a Catholic Priest could perform the Extreme Unction to a 'living' man.
 
A

Anonymous

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#18
There's a film called "Mountains of the Moon" which shows some of Burton's adventures. Patrick Bergin plays him to perfection.

I'm amazed that no-one has decided to do a film about just him, because he is like someone out of a Ryder-Haggard novel:
- His translation of the Thousand and One Nights is still read.
- He was the first non-Muslim to enter the holy city Herat in Ethiopia, I believe (an act punishable by death, I am told)
- With Speke he discovered the holy grail of African exploration, the source of the Nile (well, the White Nile)

I once stayed at a monastery in Syria and was told by the monks that their prized censor, hundreds of years old, had been taken by Burton when he had stayed there. Much of the stuff he bought/nicked on his travels can be found in the British Museum.
 
A

Anonymous

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#19
Just to reinforce what a great guy Sir Richard was..I've read his travel books and they're well written and stuffed with detail. I don't think they're that widely available (I'll have a look at amazon later, I fancy a treat) and I had to get mine from the archives of a library.

His wife apart from her burning of his diaries (for which she deserves a good slap) is an interesting character too. He courted her over a number of years, disappearing for great chunks of time and only sending her a letter every few years. She remained faithful and when married accompanied him on his travels where I think she kept her own diary. I remember one of her complaints about spiders the size of plates in Africa. Sort of woman who made the empire too :).

[EDIT] a quick look at amazon reveals that some of his books are going for £70-80.......I think it's back to car boot sales and charity shops for me.
 

TheQuixote

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#20
She (Lady Isabella) was also a great character in her own right. Although certain Burton scholars that I have read, class her as being a pathetic creature.

She was also frowned upon as at the time she and Burton were on their travels, she would dress up or should I say "go native" and walk through the bazaars without anyone noticing that she was a westerner.

I do believe that Burton was insistent that he didn't have Catholic rites read to him on his deathbed but she went against his wishes with the Extreme Unction.
 

Kondoru

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#21
I was going to say him!!

How about STEPHEN BRIDGES author of `The Uttermost part of the Earth` a book about his life in Tierra De Fuego, and his studies of the natives, sympathetic, but not patronising or sentimental.

or SIR MARK AUREL STEIN archeologist of the silk road, who wrote many fastinating books and now lies buried in Kabul

KNUD RASSMUSSEN `Across Arctic America`a journey from Greenland to Sibera in search of Inuit myths.
 
A

Anonymous

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#22
"Polar exploration is at once the cleanest and most isolated way of having a bad time which has been devised"

Ah, Homo Aves last post there made me remember that one of the books on my all time top ten list is chock full of derring do. "The Worst Journey In The World" by Apsley Cherry Garrard (what a name!) describes an almost entirely ignored part of Robert Falcon Scott's (what a name!) doomed expedition to the South Pole. Cherry was with a team that crossed over part of the Antarctic coast (which had never been explored before) to a colony of emperor penguins to retrieve some of their eggs (which had never been done before) in Winter (which had never been attempted before) but were almost annihilated when the weather failed catastrophically and they recorded the, up to that point, lowest temperatures man had ever experienced (they gave up recording at -70!!!). Death, tragedy, killer whales bursting up from the ice beneath your feet to try to eat you, and some really beautiful prose writing. Paul Theroux called it the greatest travel book ever written.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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#23
And a tel from back in the day when men were men and duelling was for pansies:

Kentucky duelists watched each other bleed in bizarre confrontation



EDDYVILLE, Ky. -- Few Kentucky duels were bloodier or more bizarre.

Weapons weren't the usual pistols at dawn. "A scalpel was used," said historian and author Odell Walker, who lives near Eddyville, the Lyon County seat.

"The challenged party named the terms," according to Lewis and Richard Collins 1874 History of Kentucky. "They should meet at Dr. N's office, and be bled. Dr. N. opened a vein for each, and they bled until, becoming extremely weak and looking as pale as a corpse, they pronounced themselves satisfied."

Apparently, nothing else is known of the May 10, 1852, bloodletting in Eddyville.

"Dueling was illegal, which might be why the duelists and the doctor weren't named," Walker said.

He suspects the physician was Dr. William C. Noel.

"The 1850 U.S. census lists him as living in Eddyville, which was then in Caldwell County," Walker said. "Lyon County was created in 1854."

Duelists often hired physicians to render first aid. Bleeding was a common 19th century medical practice for curing patients, not for settling affairs of honor.

Apparently, the Eddyville combatants observed the code duello, a set of rules imported from Europe for gentlemanly one-on-one fighting. "The challenged has the right to choose his own weapon," Rule 16 said.

Kentucky historian Ron Bryant of Frankfort suggests the anonymous Eddyville duelists were doctors themselves, or were otherwise connected with the medical profession.

"Most of the time the weapons of choice had a meaning to one or both of the duelists," he said.

Bryant agreed that the Eddyville duel was "definitely stranger than most," but added, "there have been as many strange duels as strange duelists." He said injured honor was avenged with axes, blunderbusses, bows-and-arrows, crossbows, knives, clubs, pitchforks, rocks, and whips.

"But bleeding yourself dry is indeed a unique way of maintaining one's honor,"
he added.

------------------------
Copyright 2004 Associated Press.
Source

Blunderbusses???

Hardly an art!!

I'm off to oil my duelliing scars!!!
 

Yithian

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#24
Derring Do

Just stumbled across this tidbit about the great Basil Rathbone:

World War I
Rathbone served Great Britain as a captain, an intelligence officer, with the Liverpool Scottish, second battalion in World War I, and his younger brother John died in that war. In an interview with Edward R. Murrow in 1957, Rathbone related the story of how he disguised himself as a tree to get near the enemy camp to obtain information. "I went to my commanding officer and I said that I thought we'd get a great deal more information from the enemy if we didn't fool around in the dark so much . . . and I asked him whether I could go out in daylight. I think he thought we were a little crazy. . . . I said we'd go out camouflaged -- made up as trees -- with branches sticking out of our heads and arms . . . . We brought back an awful lot of information, and a few prisoners, too." Basil Rathbone received the British Military Cross for outstanding bravery.
Specifically:

Lt. Philip St. John Basil Rathbone, L'pool R.

For conspicuous daring and resource on patrol. On one occasion, while inside the hostile wire, he came face to face with one of the enemy, whom he at once shot. This raised the alarm, and an intense fire was opened, but he crept through the entanglements with his three men and got safely back. The result of his patrolling was a thorough knowledge of the locality and strength of all enemy posts in the vicinity.

From: Supplement to the London Gazette, 7th November, 1918.

http://www.basilrathbone.net/potpourri/ ... ycross.htm
 

EggSucker

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#25
Reminds me of David Niven giving up his burgeoning Hollywood career to enlist in the British army during WWII. Wasn't he a captain in the commandos or something?

I wonder how many of our current crop of "action heroes" would fare in similar circumstances? Can't really picture sproutboy Di Caprio plunging through the surf at Omaha Beach somehow....
 

Rubyait

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#26
Not without his hair stylist, fitness instructor and a gun to his head saying move or i will shoot.
 

Kondoru

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#27
<Nods>

One of my all time faves!

<grins round mouthful of raw pengiun.>

Ah, Homo Aves last post there made me remember that one of the books on my all time top ten list is chock full of derring do. "The Worst Journey In The World" by Apsley Cherry Garrard (what a name!)
 

Yithian

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#28
Whilst reading about thi latest VC awarded i found this story. All VC winners have attempted something truly absurd and insanely brave but this one stood out as quite hardcore:

Norman Cyril Jackson (1919 – 1994) was a sergeant in the Royal Air Force who won the Victoria Cross during a bombing raid on Schweinfurt in April 1944. Born in Ealing, Jackson joined the RAF Volunteer Reserve in 1939 and originally served as an engine fitter. He retrained as a flight engineer and on July 28, 1943 he joined No. 106 Squadron which operated Avro Lancaster bombers.

Jackson completed his tour of 30 missions on April 24, 1944 but, as he had flown one sortie with a different crew, he chose to fly once more so that his original aircrew finished their tour together. Jackson's 31st mission took place on the night of April 26-27, 1944, when his crew flew in a raid on the German ball bearing factories at Schweinfurt.

Having bombed the target, Jackson's Lancaster was attacked by a German night fighter and a fuel tank in the starboard wing caught fire. Jackson, already wounded from shell splinters, strapped on a parachute and equipped himself with a fire extinguisher before climbing out of the aircraft and onto the fuselage, whilst the aeroplane was flying at 200 mph, in order to put out the fire. His parachute partially opened causing him to slip out onto the wing. As he passed through the fire he sustained serious burns before falling 20,000 feet to the ground with a partially opened and burning parachute.

He suffered further injuries upon landing, but managed to crawl to a nearby German village where he was paraded through the street. He spent 10 months recovering in hospital before being transferred to the Stalag Kc prisoner of war camp. He made two escape attempts, the second of which was successful as he made contact with a unit of the US Third Army.

Jackson was promoted to Warrant Officer and his Victoria Cross award was gazetted on October 26, 1945. In April of 2004 Jackson's VC medal was sold at auction for £235,250 (GBP).
edit: if you haven't follow the link i posted on the first page of this thread to read of Robert Cain's action at Arnhem. It is utterly remarkable.
 

again6

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#29
Sorry -- no names, dates or references, but for the sake of balance would like to include:

(1) elderly woman who selflessly jumped onto the back of a large crocodile in Queensland Australia, in pitch darkness, because she believed it had seized a baby from a camp of sleeping tourists. She held on to the crocodile grimly with not even a nail-file as weapon, until a quick thinking man shot the beast (which in itself was an amazing feat, in the dark, in the midst of screaming, running people). Luckily that shotgun was at hand, considering the Australian government, on false grounds, forced Aussies to hand over their guns several years ago).

(2) Elderly woman in New York city who chased a mugger who'd ripped her handbag from her arm, after which he took off on a bicycle. Elderly woman, armed only with her walking stick, chased the man for several blocks, according to news reports, and (assisted by motorists) succeeded in regaining her property.

(3) Australia again. Mother and two teenage daughters fought a crazed, knife-wielding attacker who'd broken into their home intent upon killing their young female house-guest. The attacker was the ex-boyfriend of the house guest. When police and ambulancemen arrived, they discovered the house to be awash with blood (as later shown in newspapers). The mother and her daughters were all seriously injured in their brave attempts to save the attacker's victim, who died as a result of her injuries.

(4) Again in Australia: A middle-aged, suburban mother 'Mary' gave refuge to a neighbour, who was married to a violent wife-basher. The wife-basher -- brandishing a gun -- went to Mary's home and demanded entrance, his intention being to shoot his wife. The wife wailed piteously from within and begged Mary not to let him in. Mary, a small-statured woman, bravely barred the door, thus saving her neigbour's life. The wife-basher turned his gun on Mary, who almost died from her wounds. The wife-basher was jailed but gained early parole. He returned to live just doors from Mary, who has been confined to a wheelchair since the incident. The bashed wife emerged unscathed from the attack (please tell me she didn't take her husband back).

(5) Germany: Mother attended the trial of the middle-aged pervert who had raped and murdered her young daughter. Throughout the trial, the mother suffered the horrific evidence of her little daughter's death, but remained composed, believing justice would be done. When the judge imposed a light sentence on the pervert, the mother stood up and shot and executed her daughter's killer. Well done! The mother remains incarcertated for her actions apparently, despite world-wide efforts to gain her freedom.

(6) Queensland Australia. When a trawler (fishing-boat) sank within minutes several miles off the North Queensland coast, it's three occupants grasped a child's surf-float and began .. in pitch darkness ... swimming towards land. They were the captain, his mate 'Jeff', and Jeff's girlfriend. When the captain and the girl were rescued many hours later, they told of Jeff's harrowing, heroic death. Soon after the sinking, they said, they were circled by a large shark which came closer and closer, nudging them as they tried desperately to avoid it. Finally, the shark attacked. Jeff pushed his girlfriend out of the way. Moments later, Jeff screamed as he was dragged below the waves. When he emerged, he had only a bleeding stump where his arm had been moments earlier. The three pushed on, encouraged by Jeff. His girlfriend was by this time crazed with fear. Soon afterwards, the shark again began circling closer and closer. Jeff, already in agony, told his girlfriend and the captain to swim away from him, while he distracted the shark. The girl was hysterical and did not want to go. Jeff instructed the captain to drag the girl away. Then Jeff swam towards the shark. Later, after being rescued, the captain told the media that Jeff had deliberately fed himself to the shark, in order his girlfriend and friend could survive. The captain said that when he last saw his friend, Jeff was held high above the water in the jaws of an enormous shark. Jeff had been punching the shark and calling out messages of love and encouragement to the others. Then he'd disappeared beneath the waves, still in the shark's jaws. This story wasn't sensational enough for the Queensland press; for several days they speculated that the captain (middle-aged, overweight, married, father of several children who had lost everything when his uninsured boat sank) had murdered Jeff. This was subsequently disproved, but not before the weary captain and his family had been forced to move from the town.
 

Kondoru

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#30
No 5 isnt very heroic, 6 is.

Im not sure about the others.

But how do you define `high adventure and derring do?` Is the concept dead in this mundane world?
 
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