An Injured Teen Sneaked Back Into WW1 By Cross-Dressing As A Nurse At A Dance
On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me
Nine ladies dancing ...
Some say the most heartwarming story from the First World War was Christmas 1914, when the opposing sides stopped fighting, exchanged gifts, and played football. A serious competitor for most heartwarming story was the time Alfred Wintle dressed up as a nurse and crashed an all-ladies dance.
In 1917, the teenage Alfred was put out of commission by a shell at the Third Battle of Ypres. He lost one kneecap, multiple fingers, and the use of one eye. This boy would never fight again, according to the rules. Alfred disagreed with this assessment, and the first step to returning to the front was escaping from the hospital.
He got out of his wing by dressing up in a nurse's costume. And then, he slipped into a dance that admitted only nurses. This part of the story confuses us a little—it's not totally clear why attending this dance was essential to his plan—and it in fact backfired, as the nurses at the dance recognized him, thanks to the monocle he now wore and to the mustache he'd refused to shave.
Wintle did return to the fight once he got out of the hospital, using his family connections. Then when World War II broke out, the army naturally refused to let him enlist again, so he demanded his own plane so he could start his own Air Force. They put him in prison for this, then they let him return to the army after all. He spied on the French, was caught, and got imprisoned yet again.
While locked up, Wintle went on hunger strike, saying he refused to eat until the French soldiers started dressing properly, as the French were displaying a shameful lack of discipline. After a stand-off of some days, his captors gave in to his demands. They let him tour the facility and inspect the troops to make sure they were outfitted to his satisfaction. He used this inspection to examine the prison for weaknesses, and so he later escaped the place by sawing through his bars with a bed spring, leaping out the window, and hiding in a garbage cart.
Top image: Ian Smith, Warner Bros.