"One of Our Admirals did What?"
On October 1, 1943, Allied troops entered Naples. The Germans had clung fiercely to the city, battling Italian partisans for days while trying to destroy its extensive harbor facitilities. As a result, there was much devastation. Food, water, medical supplies were all scarce, there were thousands of wounded civilians. Allied civil affairs personnel attempted to cope with problem, but were themselves beset by a shortage of resources.
The Prince of Caracciolo, scion of one of the noblest Italian families and head of the Italian Red Cross, knew of the location of extensive stocks of food, medicines, and other supplies that had been kept hidden from the Germans. But when he approached the Allied occupation authorities, he got nowhere; everyone either ignored him or fobbed him off on someone else, and his polite attempts to submit a written proposal explaining his purpose were ignored..
Finally the Prince hit upon a clever idea. He penned a note to the senior British naval officer in the city, which included the lines, “One of your admirals hanged one of my relatives. I demand an immeidate meeting.”
One can immagine the consternation this caused. Within a very short time the prince was ushered into the British admiral’s office. Before anyone could speak, the Prince said, “I am the head of the Italian Red Cross in Naples, and have access to large stocks of food and medical supplies.”
Taken aback, the British admiral, said, “But what about this relative you say was hanged by one of our admirals?”
“Oh,” replied the Prince, “that was my kinsman Admiral Francesco Caracciolo, who was hanged by your Admiral Nelson in 1799.”
Some Artistic Militarists
Commanders are supposed to be masters of the art of war. A few have been masters of other arts as well. Forthwith, some notable – albeit not always successful – commanders who demonstrated some talent in the fine arts, music, and literature.
|The Artistic Militarists|
|Winston L.S. Churchill||Artist|
|General of the Army Dwight D. Eisenhower||Artist|
|Adolph Hitler Artist|
|Marshal of France Auguste Marmont|| Violinist|
|Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke|| Novelist & essayist|
|Gen. Jose Moscardo|| Pianist|
|Benito Mussolini|| Violinist|
|Marshal of France Michel Ney|| Clarinetist|
|Gen. George S. Patton|| Poet |
|Tsar Peter the Great|| Drummer|
|Field Marshal Erwin Rommel|| Photographer|
|Marshal of France Gouvion St. Cyr|| Violinist|
|Marshal of France Claude Victor-Perrin|| Violinist & clarinetist|
It’s rather curious that three of Napoleon’s marshals were amateur violinists, particularly given that the Emperor himself despised the instrument, which leads one to suspect they indulged their musical interests when he wasn’t around. As for Mussolini, alhtough he did play the violin, he often used the excuse of having to “practice” to cover up trysts with one of his mistresses; a recording would be played in his office to suggest that he was taking a break from the cares of running his empire by indulging in a little violin practice, when in fact he was taking a break in a very different way indeed.
Adolph Hitler, of course, tried to make a living as an artist while a young man in pre-World War I Vienna. His works did not sell well, although they are not as bad as is customarily beleived. In fact, they’re about as good as Winston Churchill’s efforts in this regard, who proved a talented amateur. Winston also convinced Dwight Eisenhower that painting was an excellent way to relax, and the latter also proved a rather talented amateur.