And welcome to the second of our grand lists. This one is a little bit more light-hearted than the last; clearly emotions were running a bit high…
Now I don’t want to offer patronising, conciliatory platitudes but, in a sense, everyone was right! As was pointed out – there are so many criteria for selection when trying to decide the ‘Greatest’ battles. Casualties, political impact, social impact, cultural permeation and fame, are all factors, and in the end a list of that nature is bound to be subjective.
That said, it’s reasonable to suggest that some battles were more impactive than others, so it was great to hear people’s justifications and counter-arguments.
Now – down to business. One of the best and most humorous ideas for our list series was made by Chris Norris, our sales executive, namely ‘The Greatest Military facial hair arrangements’. This was as a response to a Sunday Photo a while back, where a certain Ambrose Burnside was depicted. Upon seeing Burnside, Chris declared without hyperbole that Burnside owned ‘the best facial hair (he) has ever, ever seen!’ Naturally Mr. Burnside, arguably the origin of the term ‘sideburns’, has to feature.
Here, in no particular order, are the top five candidates.
American General, Senator, Governer, Inventor and railroad executive has a rather long and distinguished CV. Nowhere near as long, however, as his famous sideburns. Who would have thought that phrase would stick in public consciousness long after the Burnside carbine that he invented?
Attacking US carriers in the Second World War was a serious matter, as can be seen in the face of Lieutenant Tamotsu Ema. In the afternoon of 8th May Ema led a section of D3A dive-bombers that attacked Yorktown during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Ema himself may have scored the hit which badly damaged Yorktown. What struck me was his significant beard growth in this shot. The IJN sometimes relaxed their shaved head policy for aviators, but I haven't seen this level of face-fur on a japanese officer before!
Étienne de Villaret
I must admit it has been hard to track down any info on good old Etienne here. All that we have managed to ascertain was that he was a General and a member of the French Légion d'Honneur. But what cannot be doubted are his extravagant, if erratic mustachios, which must have tickled a fair few fellow officers in the ear during parades and line-ups.
Kaiser Wilhelm I
Not much needs saying here. Though almost all European military leaders, royals and aristocrats from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sport remarkable facial arrays, Der Kaiser's combination is indeed a sight to behold. The strength and density of this, contrasted to the more affected 'designer' 'tache of his grandson's, almost parallels the difference in character between them.
Last but not least, Emiliano Zapata. Now I know he's not strictly a military leader, but a leader of a revolution is no slouch. And he does model possibly the quintessential Mexican moustache. As a key figure of the Mexican revolution and the Zapatismo agricultural movement, Zapata's moustache, if anything, became more pronounced as he got older.