Indiana Jones Can't Top This: A Survival Tale so Outrageous it's Hard to Believe


Last week I discovered A Surgeon in Belgium, a gem of a book which recounted some pretty interesting tales. Souttar, a British surgeon, wrote of his months serving in a Belgian field hospital in the early days of World War I. This particular account caught my attention as it sounded like something out of an Indiana Jones movie:

One of the most extraordinary cases we took in was that of the editor of a well-known sporting journal in England. He had ...[gone] out to Belgium and joined the army as a mitrailleuse [machine gun] man. ...[He] had got out [of his car] to reconnoitre, when suddenly some Germans in hiding opened fire. Their first shot went through both his legs, fracturing both tibiae, and he fell down, of course absolutely incapable of standing, just behind the armoured car. Owing to some mistake, an officer in


the car gave the order to start, and away went the car. He would have been left to his fate, but suddenly realizing how desperate his position was, he threw up his hand and caught hold of one of the rear springs. Lying on his back and holding on to the spring, he was dragged along the ground, with both his legs broken, for a distance of about half a mile. The car was going at about twenty-five miles an hour, and how he ever maintained his hold Heaven only knows. At last they pulled up, and there they found him, practically unconscious, his clothes torn to ribbons, his back a mass of bruises, but still holding on. It was one of the most splendid examples of real British grit of which I have ever heard. They brought him to the hospital, and we fixed him up as well as we could. One would have thought that he might have been a little downhearted, but not a bit of it. He arrived in the operating theatre smiling and smoking a cigar, and gave us a vivid account of his experiences. We sent him over to England, and I heard that he was doing well. …



Indeed it is true, truth is often stranger than fiction!


If you missed my last post on the harrowing rescue of wounded from Dixmude and the commander who was left behind, be sure to check it out here. (It's from this same hospital, same period of time.)


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Account taken from A Surgeon in Belgium by Henry Souttar. Free online at Archive.org. If you would like my typed notes (with headings) from the account, email me.

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