It's Military Appreciation Month!

Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

Photo by William Warby on Unsplash

 

 

Although this is predominantly a US national observance, in the age of social media so dominated in the English language sector by American influence, that appreciation extends beyond.

 

Here at Fox & Chave we have a long standing association with the Help for Heroes charity and we also offer several military themed products for enthusiasts of history, heroes or hardware.

 

 

Duke of Wellington Cuff Links

Duke of Wellington Cuff Links

 

Arthur Wellesley is more recognisable by his honorific title The Duke of Wellington. Born into an aristocratic Anglo-Irish family in 1769, his father being the 1st Earl of Mornington. 

 

A poor academic student while at Eton College in England, citing loneliness, Wellesley displayed a despondency and listlessness into young adulthood until he resolved to enrol at the French Royal Academy of Equitation. There he began a talent for horsemanship that would become a hallmark of his later battlefield leadership.

 

Commissioned into the 73rd regiment of foot in March of 1787 as an ensign at the age of 18 by the end of the year he was promoted lieutenant in the 76th regiment, this being the first of multiple regimental changes over the next 6 years on the rise to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

 

His first battle campaign came as part of an invasion force attacking French positions from the Netherlands, followed by expedition to India. After 7 years and several campaigns there the now Major-General Wellesley, had amassed considerable personal wealth and acquired a taste for dressing in the black cocked hat that is now synonymous with depictions of him.

 

Most famous for his command of an allied army in victory over French forces at the battle of Waterloo in 1815, Wellesley’s contribution in what is known as the ‘Peninsular War’, between 1808 and 1813 was perhaps more significant, giving rise to his ascent to the Dukedom. He even sat for a portrait by the former court appointed painter in Madrid, Francisco Goya, whose work ‘The Third of May 1808’, is one of the most famous images from the period.

 

 

 Napoleon Cuff Links

Napoleon Cuff Links

 

A leader is a dealer in hope’, is one of many utterances attributed to the man once titled His Imperial and Royal Majesty Napoleon I, By the Grace of God and of the Constitutions of the Empire, Emperor of the French, King of Italy, Mediator of the Swiss Confederation, Protector of the Confederation of the Rhine, Co-Prince of Andorra.

 

If that title was not sufficient to indicate the grandiosity of Napoleon Bonaparte, other quotes like ‘To do all that one is able to do, is to be a man; to do all that one would like to do, is to be a god.’ and, ‘I can no longer obey; I have tasted command, and I cannot give it up.’, are further insight into the mind of the man who rose from an obscure background, if still one of minor nobility, to rule most of western Europe.

 

Other famous associations include an infamous reference to his wife Josephine, though little is said of his second wife Marie-Louise, or that he even had one.

 

Despite his grandeur, Napoleon was doubtless an excellent military tactician and this excellence enabled his meteoric rise to power not seen on the continent since, again by his own proclamation, the Emperor Charlemagne over 1000 years prior.

 

His military campaigns in Europe and North Africa aside, Napoleon had significant political influence in a wider sense based upon principles founded in the French Revolution. He was responsible for enabling the Louisiana purchase from France by the United States government under Jefferson and by dissolving the Holy Roman Empire in 1806, Bonaparte unified over 300 small states and principalities of German speaking peoples in central Europe to less than 50 so promoting German nationalism, a process culminated by the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

 

 

 Spitfires II Silk Tie

Spitfires II Silk Tie

 

The Spitfire is a world famous piece of aviation technology.

 

Developed and built by Supermarine, which had been acquired by Vickers-Armstrong in 1928 an early version of the plane, the Type 224 was developed in answer to an air ministry commission in 1931, but the design was rejected.

 

With redesigns and re-engineering most notably the development of the Rolls-Royce PV-XII V-12 engine commonly known as the ‘Merlin’, led to the maiden flight of the prototype in March of 1936. After further test flights and modifications suggested by the test pilot team the British Government placed an order in June of the same year for 310, yet it would be a further two years until the first production machine rolled off the line.

 

Most famous for its role in the Battle of Britain in 1940, the aircraft was deployed in many theatres of conflict during the Second World War. It also saw service in the Air Forces of a remarkably long and sometimes surprising list of nations including, but by no means limited to; the Soviet Union, Greece, Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, Canada, USA, Syria, Turkey, Republic of China & South Africa

 

 

 Guards Silk Tie

 Guards Silk Tie

 

 

Guardsman from various countries are notable for the wearing of a traditional ceremonial headgear known as the ‘bearskin’, and the naming is not analogous for the British Army variation continues to be made to this day, despite increasing protest, from the whole skin of a Canadian Black Bear.

 

Military fashions were at their high point during the Napoleonic wars, where frequent changes and variations of style denoted many things besides rank and regiment. This can be seen in the directorial debut feature presentation of British film maker Ridley Scott in his 1977 work ‘The Duelists’.

 

Although originally a form of field dress, during this period of increasing ‘guerilla’ warfare the bearskin, became difficult to maintain in good condition and began to be reserved for ceremonial use, as it is today.

 

The style of hat and associated duty exists in various places as diverse as Italy, Sweden, Thailand, Canada, and Australia.

 

Most famously seen outside British Royal residences, these soldiers are members of the Welsh, Irish, Coldstream, Scots, and Grenadier guard regiments.

 

 

 Your Country Needs You Cuff Links

 Your Country Needs You Cuff Links

 

 

Imitated by an Uncle Sam variant, as well as many modern day parodies including a retrospective Captain America version, a Darth Vader version, a Donald Trump version and many others the image featured on this set of cuff links is derived from a 1916 British Army recruitment poster since considered a ‘masterful’ piece of wartime propaganda.

 

The illustrated image is a depiction of then secretary of state for war in the United Kingdom, Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, appointed to his office by then Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, in what some say was a cynical political ploy to use the past Imperial exploits of Kitchener in colonial campaigns as a recruitment tactic for the Great War.

 

The poster perfectly encapsulates the stoicism of the British Empire’s opinion of itself, in an already anachronistic style using the image of the stern, stereo-typically masculine Kitchener depicted with a finger pointing straight out toward the viewer and the simple call to duty, it served to encourage volunteers to join the Army in 1914 prior to forced conscription two years later.

 

Speculation remains however that alike to its romanticised imagery there is a version of the effectiveness of its use at the time that has resulted in its legend that may have been based in fact on post-war marketing. By contrast another version suggests that the success of another poster depicting Kitchener with a longer recruitment message has been conflated with the less effective, but now much more famous one.

 

Perhaps Lady Asquith, the wife of the Prime Minister at the time, summed it up when she would only refer to Kitchener not as a man but as ‘the poster’.

 

 

 

 


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