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PostThe Italian who Saved Churchill's Life (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy, 07/05/18 4:41 am)
A fascinating post from Timothy Ashby (4 July). Congratulations to him for his great research and illustrious ancestry.
Timothy mentions the battle of Hastings (1066) as changing the course of British history. Practically all major battles change the course of history but sometime they are also forgotten.
We may consider two great battles that happened in the month of July not too long after Hastings: The battle of Hathin (lake of Tiberiade), 4 July 1187, and the battle of Despenaperros (Las Navas de Tolosa), 16 July 1212.
In the first Guy de Lusignan, king of Jerusalem and Cyprus, was defeated by the Saladin, who a few months later could conquer Jerusalem and bring an end to the Christian kingdoms in the Middle East.
In the second Alfonso VII of Castilla, Pedro II de Aragón and Sancho VII of Navarra fought together, prophets of the future union of Spain, and defeated the Moors of Al Nasir. As a result the Arab domination of Iberia began to crumble.
Considering Timothy's love for South Africa, let me remember a little-known battle or more precisely, a skirmish. On 15 November 1899 a group of Boers commanded by an Italian volunteer, Major Camillo Ricchiardi, derailed a British train on which the young Winston Churchill was traveling. The latter was considered a war criminal as he was armed with dumdum ammunition forbidden by the International Conferences and was condemned to death.
By the way, the UK supplied plenty of dumdum ammunition to the Ethiopian Army in 1935, which led to a brief Italian retaliation strongly condemned by the "good" side.
Ricchiardi opposed the sentence and saved Churchill. Suppose that Ricchiardi had not spared Churchill. In July of 1940 might we have had a compromise peace in Western Europe?
JE comments: Camillo Ricchiardi (1865-1940) was an extraordinary adventurer, full of romantic wanderlust. Prior to moving to South Africa, where he married Paul Kruger's granddaughter, he had lived in Siam/Thailand. After South Africa, he relocated to Argentina and later Morocco, where he lies buried. The 200-strong Italian Legion gained an excellent reputation among the Boers for its reconnaissance work and skill in asymmetrical warfare.
Wikipedia tells us that Churchill was never officially condemned to die. Rather, Ricchiardi saved Churchill by throwing away WSC's dumdum-equipped pistol before he was caught with it. Churchill would later escape from captivity.
There's a TV series in Ricchiardi's extraordinary life.