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Here are the most inspiring adventure stories that your history books forgot

The lives that dreams (and autobiographies) are made of – incredible lives lived by fascinating people.

THERE ARE SOME people in the world who blaze a trail.

Their lives are more full of adventure and intrigue than many of ours put together. That’s alright, though – most people prefer the quiet life.

Inspired by the extraordinary adventures of Allan Karlsson in the forthcoming film The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out The Window, in Irish cinemas this Friday, we’ve brought together a few of these brilliant, madcap life stories.

And although Karlsson might be fictional, these people are all real – and all utter heroes…

1. Poon Lim

Poon Lim was a Chinese sailor who survived 133 days alone, ship-wrecked in the South Atlantic. He was working on the British merchant ship SS Benlomond when it was sunk by a German U-boat on November 23rd 1942. He found a raft in the water with some supplies – when they ran out, he fished, caught seabirds and drank rainwater. He was rescued on April 5th 1943 off the coast of Brazil and awarded the British Empire Medal by King George VI on his return to the UK.

While others have survived aboard boats for longer, no one has ever broken Poon Lim’s record for surviving a ship-wreck on a life raft.

WWII Merchant Seaman Poon Lim Source: AP/Press Association Images

2. Richard Louis “Dick” Proenneke

Born in 1916 in Iowa, Dick Proenneke served as a carpenter in the US Navy during WWII during his early life. He moved around after his discharge, eventually settling in Alaska and working there as a mechanic and fisherman. In 1968, Proenneke retired – and went on to live alone for nearly 30 years in the mountains of Alaska, in a cabin he built by hand on the shores of Twin Lakes.

He returned to civilization in 1999 and died of a stroke, aged 86, in 2003. His cabin was left to the National Park Service and remains a popular visitor attraction.

proencabin His hand-built cabin at Twin Lakes Source: Wikimedia Commons

3. Nikola Tesla

Nikola Tesla was born in modern-day Croatia in 1856. He was an inventor, engineer and futurist and is best-known for his work towards the design of AC electrical current systems. However, Tesla has a fascinating and varied life story. He worked for Thomas Edison when he moved to America, but soon struck out on his own. Tesla is known now as a classic “mad scientist” figure due to his eccentricities – working often until 3am, and insisting on squishing his toes 100 times each foot per night, claiming it stimulated his brain cells.

He had a photographic memory, spoke eight languages, and claimed to never sleep for more than two hours. He pursued ideas of wireless lighting and performed many large-scale experiments with electricity.

Source: Wikimedia Commons

4. The Night Witches

“Night Witches” is an English translation of the German nickname “Nachthexen” – the name given to the 588th Night Bomber Regiment of the USSR Army during WWII. They were all-female military aviators, whose speciality was nuisance bombing and precision campaigns from 1942 until the end of the war.

It was said that they were perhaps the most feared of the USSR’s bombers – they flew less reliable planes intended for crop-dusting but still made a significant impact to the war’s outcome, dropping 3,000 tonnes of bombs. Due to the weight of the bombs and low altitude of flight, they carried no parachutes.

Nadezha Popova Dies Aged 91 Pilot Yekaterina Ryabova, flight commander Raisa Yushchina, pilot Mira Paromova, squadron-leaders Nadezhda Popova and Marina Chechneva in a rare moment of down time looking at a fashion magazine Source: Photas/Tass/Press Association Images

5. Paul Templer

After serving in the British Army and seeing the world, Zimbabwean native Paul Templer settled down in his country of origin and became a river guide. Except during one trip down the Zambezi River near Victoria Falls in 1995, at just 27 years old, he and his group came under attack from a bull hippo. When another guide was thrown into the water, Templer jumped in to help him – but the hippo went for him, swallowing him head first. Its teeth pierced his armpits, punctured his back and restrained his arms.

However, Paul managed to get himself out of the hippo’s jaws – not before being mauled repeatedly by the huge animal again, breaking his arms and ribs. After a 7-hour surgery, he lost his left arm – but Paul still leads safari trips down the same river to this day.

Source: Flickr

Envious of those who lived such fantastic lives? Well, now you can live through Allan Karlsson in the newly released STUDIOCANAL’s film The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared, released this Friday. A life, and film, filled to the brim with adventure. 

The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared will be in Irish cinemas on the 4th of July. 


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