Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Daniel Wintle MC, better known as A.D. Wintle, (30 September 1897 – 11 May 1966) was a British military officer in the 1st The Royal Dragoons who served in the First and Second World Wars. He was the first non-lawyer to achieve a unanimous verdict in his favour in the House of Lords, and is considered one of London's greatest eccentrics.
t the outbreak of war, 16-year-old Wintle was in Dunkirk and claimed to have "irregularly attached" himself to Commander Samson’s armoured-car unit, witnessing Uhlans being shot on one occasion in Belgium.
Wintle wished to see military action. In summer 1915, his father agreed to his son’s early entry into the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, from which he was commissioned in less than four months. Less than a week later, he was at the front. On his first night a shell burst near him, splashing over him the entrails of his sergeant (to whom he had just been introduced). Wintle later admitted to being petrified. As the bombardment continued, he dealt with his fear by standing at attention and saluting. As he later wrote, "Within thirty seconds I was able to become again an Englishman of action and to carry out calmly the duties I had been trained to perform".
The incident was typical, both of a series of amazing escapes and his pride at being an Englishman (as opposed to being born "a chimpanzee or a flea, or a Frenchman or a German"). He saw action at Ypres, the Somme, La Bassée and Festubert, supposedly capturing the village of Vesle single-handedly before handing it over to the New Zealanders (who were about to attack it in force). His luck ran out during Third Ypres in 1917 as he helped manhandle an 18pdr across a "crater-swamp". The gun-carriage wheel hit an unexploded shell; he woke up in a field hospital without his left eye, one kneecap and several fingers. At age 19, Wintle's right eye was so damaged that he had to wear a monocle for the rest of his life.
He was sent back to England to convalesce by the "infernal quacks"; it appeared that his war was over, but Wintle had other ideas. He was soon planning his escape from the Southern General Hospital back to the front, attending a nurses-only dance in their billets (disguised as a nurse) before finally making his escape. He recorded, however, that his monocle was a dead give-away and the particularly unpleasant matron was unimpressed with his antics.
Wintle entrained for France with a warrant signed by a friend of his father’s; he had a "moderately successful year of action" with the 119th Battery, 22nd Brigade, RFA. His MC was gazetted in the London Gazette of 2 April 1919, and the citation was published on 10 December. According to his obituary, he received his MC in the mail the same day it was announced in the London Gazette. The citation read:
For marked gallantry and initiative on 4th Nov. 1918 near Jolimentz. He went forward with the infantry to obtain information and personally accounted for 35 prisoners. On 9th Nov. he took forward his section well in front of the infantry and throughout the day he showed initiative of a very high order and did excellent work.
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