Saturday, July 10, 2010

A life well lived

Sometimes you come across a person in the public prints and wonder why you never heard of him before. Amedeo Guillet, recently dead, was an Italian aristocrat described by his biographer as 'too conservative to be a Fascist.' From the Financial Times:
Amedeo Guillet crammed rather a lot into his 101 years. He is best remembered for leading, on his white Arabian stallion, Sandor, a potentially suicidal cavalry charge against the tanks and 25-pounder artillery guns of Britain’s advancing “Gazelle Force” in the Horn of Africa in 1941. It was the last ever cavalry charge against British troops and earned the then Lieutenant Guillet the nickname Comandante Diavolo – the Devil Commander – from both his own men and an enemy that came to respect and even befriend him. Usually dressed like an Arab or Ethiopian tribesman, he became known in his native land as “Italy’s Lawrence of Arabia”.

And from Web site World War 2 Talk:
[The Italian commander in East Africa] gave Guillet command of the locally recruited Amhara Cavalry Bande, as well as 500 Yemeni infantry – approximately 2,500 men. With almost no armour, the Italians used Guillet's horsemen to delay the advance of the British 4th and 5th Indian Divisions when they crossed the Eritrean frontier in January 1941.
For nine months Guillet launched a series of guerrilla actions against British troops, plundering convoys and shooting up guard posts. At his side was his mistress, Khadija, an Ethiopian Muslim, for he never believed he would ever see Italy or [his fiancée] again. Two curious British intelligence officers pursued him: Major Max Harrari, later an urbane art dealer who would become Guillet's close friend, and the driven intellectual Captain Sigismund Reich, of the Jewish Brigade, who was eager to get on with the task of killing Germans.

Read the WW2talk post here. Pipe the pic of Khadija. Sounds like a guy who had a lot of fun in life. Our modern world leaves little room for men of Guillet's stripe to find their niches ... leading cavalry charges beats the hell out of trading stocks. Unfortunately, these are not times that favor romantics.

1 comment:

Pilot said...

This guy conjures up Indiana Jones, or the two old farts in Second Hand Lions. If you get to the finish line with some scars or prosthetics and the stories that go with them, then you have lived a full and exciting life. Sometimes it's okay to look for a landing spot after the jump.....