Amedeo Guillet, the italian Lawrence of Arabia

Apr 2015
1,705
Italy
it's an amazing story i only recently had come to know, and i think somebody may be interested in this incredible man who surely would have ended up being the protagonist of a hollywood movie if only he was born american and not italian.

you can read his biography here, even if it's quite short.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amedeo_Guillet
unfortunately only sources i can find are in italian. Here in short who the man was.

born in 1909 son of italian nobles, becomes and olympionic athlete and decides to join the army for the love of italy, not because he was a fascist.
Is sent to africa with the army for Italian colonization campaign than goes to fight in the spanish civil war and than is sent back to africa in Eritrea, during these years he distinguish himself for bravery and gets in touch with the fascist elite.
In Eritrea he gather an army of local soldiers and start to fight against local lords, his men gave him the surname "Devil commander" and his fame grows even more. his soldiers absolutely adore him they would jump in the fire for him. He respect his men, learn their culture and learn how to speak arabic. He later will become a muslim too.
in 1941 he raises to legend status when he decides to launch a horse charge with his men holding a sword against British tanks and infantry in order to buy time for a column of Italian soldiers who were retreating. He succeds.
By the time he becomes disenchanted with the fascist regime wich he consider racist, coward and pointless and decides to start his own war against the british.
He leaves the italian army and assume an arab identity. He is now at his own command.
His soldiers loyal to him rally behind him and follow him in his guerrilla against the british that last for months.
He becomes one of the top british villains in africa, they put a bounty on him, promising a big sum of money to whoever could provide informations about him.
amazingly none of his men will ever betray him, but even more amazingly he himself goes to the british in disguise giving them false informations about himself in order to mislead them and collecting the bounty too :lol::lol:

after almost an year he realizes his guerrilla has become pointless, so he decides is time to go move on and leave. He moves to Massaua, here lives like an arab, at one point he also has an encounter with the british that again don't recognize him and he disappear once again helped by the locals.
at one points some thugs rob him and leave him with one of his friends in the desert to die.
Here one nomad man by pure chance saves them, bring them to his home and befriends them asking him to stay.
He stays there for a while, than decides he has to go back to Italy, once again goes to the british, tell them he is a relative of the nomad man and obtains from them a pass to leave the country. :lol: :lol:
once he left the country he got arrested by local forces cause, incredibly, they suspected him to be a british spy.
A local Imam once again befriends him ( he must have truly been a lovely guy ) frees him and have him to stay at his house for more than a year.
at that point Guillet finally is able to jump on a boat to italy, a red cross boat. He pretend to be a mentally ill man in order to be entitled to stay on the boat.
He arrives in italy in september, a week before the fall of fascism. He reports to the autority, he is reintegrated in the army, but than fascism falls and he escapes and joins the king's ranks to who he was loyal to.

after the war when italy becomes a republic he has a meeting with the king telling him he is loyal to the king and he wants to leave italy with him. The king himself tells him to serve the newborn republic because men like him are rare and will be needed: "kings come and go, Italy will always be there" the kings say to him. He obeys.

he than became a italian diplomat and ambassador for the rest of his life.
in 2000 he went back to Eritrea as a private and he gets received by Eritrea's president with full honor and great celebrations still considered one of the heroes of the nation.

He went also in search of the Nomad who saved his life in the desert in 41. He finds him. The nomad doesn't recognize him. The nomad invites him to his house and in order to entertain him he starts telling him a story of two guys sent by allah, many years before that he found in the desert and invited to live at his house.

if someone understands italian or simply wants to see the face of the man here something you may like to see

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pt7mm1vrC_U
 
Last edited:
Jun 2016
50
sydney
Amazing story, I will try to find British reports in old wartime newspapers to confirm his exploits behind enemy lines as the commander of a guerrilla force.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,148
Portugal
Didn’t Hugo Pratt used him as a character in one of the Corto’s Maltese adventures?
 

xander.XVII

Ad Honorem
Nov 2009
3,888
Outer world
Didn’t Hugo Pratt used him as a character in one of the Corto’s Maltese adventures?
Not Corto Maltese but in another series of comics about Ethiopia during WW2 (Hugo Pratt spend a considerable amount of time in Ethiopia because his father was a colonist).
 

Scaeva

Ad Honorem
Oct 2012
5,630
But with Italy's surrender, then later joining the Allies, times had changed. Guilet was promoted to Major for his war accomplishments and was assigned to the Military Intelligence Agency (SIM). In this role, perhaps ironically, he was chosen by the British for some very dangerous missions on Italian territory that was still under Nazi Occupation. He worked closely with an official of the services, a cadet of Colonel Harari, Victor Dan Segre, who later became his close friend and biographer. Colonel Harari was the commander of the British special unit services that tried to capture Guillet in Italian East Africa.
Sounds like an interesting character!