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Old November 14th, 2012, 03:33 PM   #1

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Last of the Victorians


During the Victorian period, and probably extending as late as the 50s, there was a certain type of Englishman who could best be described as a "mad adventurer". The world was a much more mysterious and wondrous place. In the exotic east, there were Hindoos and Chinamen with their fakirs and boxers. In darkest Africa, there was big game to hunt (and none of this conservation nonsense to worry about). There were still frontiers to conquer.

Armed with little more than a sturdy tweed jacket and a riding crop, the mad Englishman (and sometimes Scotsmen, Welshmen and Irishmen, but they were usually far too sensible) set out to figuratively, if not literally, conquer the world. He would climb mountains because they were there. He would try to cross polar ice with ponies. And quite often, proficiency in the local lingo and familiarity with his destination was considered very much an optional extra.

As Noel Coward once said, only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun.

We often hear about "The Last of the Romans", but the I think some people deserve the title of "Last of the Victorians". Can you think of any such people?

Here's one such man - Charles Burgess Fry, otherwise known as C. B. Fry. England footballer, Test cricketer, diplomat, admirer of Adolf Hitler (perhaps not his greatest trait) and very nearly King of Albania (according to him). Had he been able to persuade Nazi Germany to take up cricket (which he tried to do), perhaps the course of history could have changed!
C. B. Fry - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

And also George Mallory, brother of WW2 Air Chief Marshal Trafford Leigh-Mallory, who attempted to climb Everest and may well have made it to the top, and whose body was discovered in 1999:
George_Mallory George_Mallory


Is there anyone living or dead who you think deserves the title "Last of the Victorians"? I'd say Brian Blessed, but I'm not sure the Victorians were that loud.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 03:36 PM   #2

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Sir Rex Hunt (RIP)

Former Falklands Island governor Sir Rex Hunt dies, aged 86 | UK news | guardian.co.uk
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Old November 14th, 2012, 03:50 PM   #3

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This bloke, if only for his name : Sir Ranulph Twisleton-Wykeham-Fiennes, 3rd Baronet, OBE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ranulph_Fiennes
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Old November 14th, 2012, 04:14 PM   #4

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Now theres a man who was born a century too late for the age of great exploration.

Any man who can blow up the set of Doctor Doolittle and cut his own fingertips off in his garden shed because he got sick of lingering frostbite is in a class of his own.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 04:25 PM   #5

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Old November 14th, 2012, 04:26 PM   #6

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It would have to be people who ventured to places, where when things got into a mess, there would be no rescue. So modern day explorers like Fiennes are off the list.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 06:24 PM   #7

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Can't recall the name, but there was a fellow from the UK who walked from Tierra del Fuego to the northern tip of Alaska in the early 1980s, hauling his supplies in a two-wheeled shopping cart.
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Old November 14th, 2012, 11:39 PM   #8
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Sorry to disappoint the bloke who posted actor Ian Richardson as a quintessential Englishman but like me, Richardson was a native of Scottish capital city Edinburgh, and despite his talent for playing posh English Tory types Richardson attended the same state secondary school in Edinburgh, situated in the same tough, working class, neighbourhood as I did - not Eton or Harrow -albeit some ten years previously to me.
Incidentally, Ian Richardson's and my Edinburgh state secondary school also produced the only British Royal Marine to win the Victoria Cross in World War Two-Corporal Thomas Peck Hunter.
I also must disagree with the original Yorkshire poster who implied that Scots were in the minority of mad Victorian explorers and adventurers-not true sir as the following list proves.
A-Thomas Glover-Glover San the Scottish Samurai- who co-founded the Mitsubishi company in Japan'the Kirin beer brewery which makes the Japanese equivalent of Budweiser beer even today; installed Japan's first ever modern telephone system; built the house in his adopted home of Nagasaki that survived the American A-Bomb blast in 1945 and which attracts a million visitors annually.Victorian Glover died in Japan in 1910.
B-The Scottish guy from Morningside, Edinburgh who was chief adviser to Manchurian puppet King Henry Pu Yi installed by the Japanese in 1931-I've forgotten his name.
C-John Forbes son of of Baron Pitsligo, who perished with Custer and the 7th Cavalry in June 1876 at the Battle of the Little Bighorn while serving under the phoney name of ''Hiles'' or ''Niles''.
D-Peter Thomson from the village of Markinch, Fife who won the Medal of Honor while serving with Major Marcus Reno and the U.S. 7th Cavalry at the Battle of the Little Big Horn-Thomson, like Reno survived.
E-John McDouall Stuart from Dysart- just two miles from where I am writing this.
Stuart's statue stands in South Australian capital city, Adelaide, because from there he became the first European to cross the Australian continent from south to north in Victorian times to establish the telegraph between the Northern territories and South Australia-nearly killing himself and his group in the process.
F-Hebridean island native Governor McQuarrie of New South Wales in Australia so famed and revered for his time as Governor in the 19th century Victorian times that two years ago the present female Prime Minister of New South Wales travelled 12,000 miles to visit his grave on his Hebredian island homeland grave and pay homage.
G-In Canada you can have your pick of adventurous Scottish explorers and/or/Hudson Bay Company Victorian Scots-the McKenzie and Fraser Rivers are named after Scots-Canadian explorers.
H-In Africa- Mungo Park; and David Livingstone are just two Scots explorers-none more famed in Victorian times than former Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland, native Livingstone whose hometown name-Blantyre- has been adopted by the people of central African state Malawi as the name of their capital city. Livingstone discovered the Victoria Falls which he named.
In Hong Kong Britain's two Scottish Victorian drug runners supreme-Jardine and Mathieson- whose ability to get Victorian Britain's govt to agree to use the British Navy and Army to force Chinese opium addicts to buy their Indian grown opium from Jardine & Mathieson's own trading company in what is known as the Opium War of 1839-42 must surely make modern Columbian drug Barons-harrassed by governments- green with envy.
Scots pioneers of The Victorian international drug trade, Jardine & Mathieson used their ill- gotten gains to found the Jardine-Mathieson company which dominated the. Hong Kong business world for a century.
One of them-like NSW, Australia's Governor McQuarrie- also returned to be buried n his Scottish birthplace in the Western Isles.
Finally ,Victorian Scottish poor boy Andrew Carnegie, who left Dunfermline, Fife, aged 13 in the 1820's with his bum hanging out of his breeks. But by the age of 26 owned huge chunks of the American steel and railroad indisutries and by ruthless robber baron methods, which made him a vIllain In the eyes Of American Labor historians, amassed a multi-million dollar/pounds fortune which enabled him to put up the cash for New York's famous Carnegie Hall venue.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 12:56 AM   #9

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Alfred Wintle. Amazing man. Fought in WW1 until Third Ypres, where he was severly wounded and lost his left eye, a kneecap, and several fingers. Annoyed at being sent to hospital in england, he tried to escape disguised as a nurse. Eventually returned to France and saw action for another year. Citated for bravery in 1919. He regarded the period between the First and Second World Wars as 'intensely boring'.

When WW2 began, Wintle was annoyed when his superiors refused to let him go to France. He planned to resign his commission and form his own army 'to take the war to the Hun.' After the French surrender, Wintle demanded an aircraft (with which he intended to rally the French Air Force to fly their planes to Britain and continue fighting Germany from British air bases), when refused he threatened an RAf officre (Air Commodore A R Boyle) with a gun. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London. When he was put on trial for his action, he did not deny that he had said to Boyle 'people like you ought to be shot'. Instead he produced a list of other people he felt should be shot as a patriotic gesture. After this, the charges against him were dropped, except the charge of threatening to shoot Boyle, for which he received a formal reprimand. Wintle was sent abroad to join his old regiment(the 1st Royal Dragoons) and went into action gathering intelligence and coordinating raids on the Vichy French in Syria. Wintle was asked to go to Vichy France in disguise to determine the condition of British POWs held there. Wintle was betrayed, arrested as a spy and imprisoned by Vichy.

During his captivity, he informed his guards that it was his duty as an English officer to escape, he successfully did so once by quickly unhinging his cell door and hiding in a sentry box before slipping out quietly, but he was betrayed and recaptured with in a week. Wintle's guard was doubled from this point on. He responded by going on a 13-day hunger strike in protest against 'the slovenly appearance of the guards who are not fit to guard an English officer'. He also informed anyone who would listen (including Maurice Molia, the camp commandant) exactly how he felt about their cowardice and treachery to their country. shortly after, he sawed through the bars of his cell, hid in a garbage cart, and slipped over the wall of the castle, making his way back to Britain via Spain. Molia later claimed on Wintle's This is Your Life programme in 1959 that shortly after the escape 'because of Wintle's dauntless determination to maintain English standards and his constant challenge to our authority' the entire garrion of 280 men had gone over to the Resistance.

Wintle made legal history when he brought a legal action against a dishonest solicitor named Nye, whom he accused of appropriating £44,000 from the estate of Wintle's deceased cousin. To publicise the case, in 1955 wintle served time in prison after forcing Nye to remove his trousers and submit to being photographed. He pursued Nye through the courts for the next three years, losing his case on two occasions. On 26 November 1958 the Lords announced that they had for Wintle, the reasons for judgement being reserved. Wintle thus became the first non-laywer to receive a unanimous verdict in his favour in the House of Lords.

Memorable quotes by Wintle:
'I am never bored when I am present' (on being asked on his release from prison if he found it boring)
'No true gentleman wouldl ever unfurl one' (his umbrella).
'Guy Fawkes was the last man to enter Parliament with good intentions. You need another like me to carry on the good work.'
'I get down on my knees every night and thank God for making me an Englishman. It is the greatest honour He could bestow. After all, he might have made me a chimpanzee, or a flea, or a Frenchman or a German.'
'Stop dying at once and when you get up, get your bloody hair cut' (to Trooper Cedric Mays, Royal Dragoons, who recovered and lived to the age of 95)

Last edited by Louise C; November 15th, 2012 at 01:03 AM.
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Old November 15th, 2012, 01:58 AM   #10

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Toombatard is right about the unique insanity of the Scots. It is sometimes catching as in the case of Jack Churchill who went into battle in WW2 armed with---wait for it, a Scottish broad sword and a bow and arrow.
Although he was as Scottish as Shaka Zulu who favoured the bagpipes and the claymore.A man definitely out of his time.
His full exploits are too lenghty to reproduce here but as a summary:-
In May 1940 Churchill and his unit, the Manchester Regiment, ambushed a German patrol near L'Epinette, France. Churchill gave the signal to attack by cutting down the enemy Feldwebel (sergeant) with his barbed arrows, becoming the only British soldier known to have felled an enemy with a longbow. After fighting at Dunkirk, he volunteered for the Commandos, unsure of what Commando duty entailed but was interested because it sounded dangerous.
Churchill was second in command of No. 3 Commando in Operation Archery, a raid on the German garrison at Vågsøy, Norway on 27 December 1941. As the ramps fell on the first landing craft, Churchill leapt forward from his
position and played a tune on his bagpipes, before throwing a grenade and running into battle in the bay. For his actions at Dunkirk and Vågsøy, Churchill received the Military Cross and Bar. In July 1943, as commanding officer, he led 2 Commando from their landing site at Catania in Sicily with his trademark Scottish broadsword slung around his waist, a longbow and arrows around his neck and his bagpipes under his arm, which he also did in the landings at Salerno. Leading 2 Commando, Churchill was ordered to capture a German observation post outside of the town of La Molina, controlling a pass leading down to the Salerno beach-head. He led the attack by 2 and 41 Commandos, infiltrated the town and captured the post, taking 42 prisoners including a mortar squad. Churchill led the men and prisoners back down the pass, with the wounded being carried on carts pushed by German prisoners. He commented that it was "an image from the Napoleonic Wars." He received the Distinguished Service Order for leading this action at Salerno.
In 1944 he led the Commandos in Yugoslavia, where they supported Josip Broz Tito's Partisans from the Adriatic island of Vis. In May he was ordered to raid the German held island of Brač. He organized a "motley army" of 1,500 Partisans, 43 Commando and one troop from 40 Commando for the raid. The landing was unopposed but on seeing the eyries from which they later encountered German fire, the Partisans decided to defer the attack until the following day. Churchill's bagpipes signalled the remaining Commandos to battle. After being strafed by an RAF Spitfire, Churchill decided to withdraw for the night and to re-launch the attack the following morning. The following morning, one flanking attack was launched by 43 Commando with Churchill leading the elements from 40 Commando. The Partisans remained at the landing area; only Churchill and six others managed to reach the objective. A mortar shell killed or wounded everyone but Churchill, who was playing "Will Ye No Come Back Again?" on his pipes as the Germans advanced. He was knocked unconscious by grenades and captured. He was later flown to Berlin for interrogation and then transferred to Sachsenhausen.
In September 1944 Churchill and a Royal Air Force officer crawled under the wire, through an abandoned drain and attempted to walk to the Baltic coast. He was recaptured and escaped again until picked up by American forces.
As the Pacific War was still on, Churchill was sent to Burma, where the largest land battles against Japan were being fought. By the time Churchill reached India, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed and the war ended. Churchill was said to be unhappy with the sudden end of the war, saying: "If it wasn't for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years".
Churchill then went on to enjoy active service in Palestine and, at the age of 59, become the first man to surf the Severn tidal bore on his own home made surf board.
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