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Amedeo Guillet 1909 – 2010


  1. Dom says:

    I believe that Amedeo Guillet was the executioner of Ettore Muti, sent by the King of italy to stop Muti from reorganizing the fascist movement.

  2. Alexderome says:

    Can you explain how Guillet could murder Muti ?
    I don’t think so.

  3. admin says:

    The idea that Amedeo Guillet was involved in the killing of Ettore Muti is total nonsense. The dates do not match. Until the Giulio Cesare Red Cross ship arrived in Taranto in September 1943, Amedeo was not even in Italy. The movements of the Giulio Cesare are widely checkable. It was under British escort until handed over to Italian.

    Here is an article I wrote about this idiotic theory:

    It is a curious thing when someone contacts you out of the blue to tell you that a man who you knew very well – indeed, loved – with whom you stayed frequently, who knew your family and who was adored by your children was, in fact, a murderer.

    But that was the sensation I experienced yesterday when an individual styling himself “Domthegood2” left a comment on my website dedicated to Amedeo Guillet, the Italian “Lawrence of Arabia” figure and Second World War hero, who died two years ago at the age of 101.

    The message was pithy, emphatic and momentarily drew me up short: “I believe that Amedeo Guillet was the executioner of Ettore Muti, sent by the king of Italy to stop Muti from reorganizing the fascist movement.”

    As soon as I read the words my mind went reeling back 15 years to Amedeo’s Georgian rectory study in County Meath, in Ireland, where I done the research into his life story. Muti was not a name he had ever discussed, rather surprisingly as he knew virtually everyone from that time.

    But I know the name. In an Italy where the Berlusconi right reveals its cloven hoof with conciliatory remarks about the Mussolini era, the name of Ettore Muti stands as a kind of Fascist martyr.

    At his funeral in Ravenna, which can be seen on YouTube, his widow holds a cushion festooned with his medals, including the Military Order of Savoy, the same medal Amedeo was awarded for delaying the British advance into Eritrea with his cavalry.

    But in Muti’s case there were also a couple of Iron Crosses, and British readers may be repelled that this paragon of Italic bellicosity took part in the few Regia Areonautica air raids over England. But Muti was also, briefly, a senior figure in the regime being the secretary of the PNF, the National Fascist Party ¬– or the “Per Necessita Familiare”, as Italians wonderfully described it.

    Amedeo Guillet, on the other hand, was a far less complicated figure, whose story I first heard after travelling to Milan with the late Bill Deedes of this parish in 1995. Amedeo was an Olympic horseman, regular army officer and monarchist, whose family of the minor nobility had served the Savoy dynasty since the 17th century.

    On the battlefield, he was a formidable adversary, as British military reports make clear, but it is difficult to conceive a less suited political assassin than this anachronistic figure, who rightly likened himself to Don Chisciotte.

    From 1943 to 1945, Italy was in a concealed state of civil war between the diehard Fascists and everyone else, from monarchists to the pro-Soviet Italian Communist Party, who were all supporting the Allies. Only the fact that the Second World War was progressing up the Italian peninsular kept these fratricidal enmities to the background.

    Amedeo was involved in military intelligence at the time, liaising with the Allies and the Italian resistance, while always trying to protect the interest of Italy’s monarchy, itself compromised after years of submission to the regime.

    Today, Muti is an important figure. An undeniably brave figure, he was shot in mysterious circumstances after being arrested on August 23 1943.

    The arrest was carried out by the carabinieri, whose oath was to the crown, on the orders of Marshal Badoglio who was secretly negotiating with the Allies to dump the German alliance and arrange Italy’s exit from the war.

    To Italian far right, Muti’s killing was the first crime of the civil war, followed that of the Fascist philosopher Giovanni Gentile the following year in Florence.

    It now seems odd to me that Ettore Muti never came up in our discussions in Ireland. Amedeo had met many of the prominent figures in Italy of the Thirties: he had bought and trained a horse for Mussolini, whom he met twice; the king and the royal family were well known to him, especially his mentor the Duke of Aosta, the viceroy if Italian East Africa. So were leading Fascist ministers.

    In discussing them he made a distinction between Fascists “di buon cuore”, and those ideological fanatics such as the pro-Nazi Roberto Farinacci, who was given the Silver Medal for Military Valour after blowing off his own hand with a hand-grenade while fishing on Lake Tana.

    He was “squalido”, in Amedeo’s view, and as for Marshal Graziani, who carried out massacres in Libya and Ethiopia, he should have been hanged. Amedeo would have been appalled to hear that this convicted war criminal’s home town of Affile, 50km east of Rome, spent Euro 127,000 on a memorial in August last year to this figure (who was also a calamitous commander).

    Nonetheless, in a country that is addicted to political paranoia and conspiracy theories – the term “dietrologia”, or behind-ology explains the tendency – it would not be difficult for the idea to take hold that Amedeo Guillet killed Ettore Muti.

    But it is not true.

    Thanks to my biography, Amedeo’s life as a soldier is fairly well known, but there are also numerous sources. These refer to his cavalry charge against the British army at Keru on January 21 1941; his refusal to surrender along with the rest of the Italian army in Italian East Africa – present-day Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somaliland – and his escaped over the Red Sea to the Yemen.

    In early summer 1943, Amedeo was the privileged guest of the Imam of Yemen, fretting to get back in the war – and an annoyance to the British in Aden, who unsuccessfully demanded that he be handed over.

    With astonishing boldness, he managed to cross back to Eritrea and stowaway on the Red Cross hospital ship, the Giulio Cesare, that was heading back to Italy under British escort.

    It finally docked at Taranto on September 2 1943. Mussolini had already been deposed, Sicily was nearly in Allied hands and it was obvious to all that the Italian war effort was tottering.

    It took Amedeo three days to get to Rome where, on September 8, he woke up to hear that the Allies, tiring of the delays, unilaterally announced that Italy had signed an armistice.

    With Rome full of Germans, Amedeo began walking south to join his king and the Allied cause, meeting and befriending many of the British officers who were his enemies. “Why is it that everyone who tried to kill you is so very agreeable?” Amedeo’s wife, Beatrice, would occasionally ask him.

    Whoever killed Ettore Muti on August 23 1943 it emphatically was not Amedeo Guillet.

  4. rorysteele says:

    Sebastian – Amedeo came in ninth out of 30 successful candidates in the Foreign Ministry exams, as gazetted officially on 13-7-1948. In twelfth place was Felice Benuzzi, who also had a spectacular African past: he escaped from a POW camp, climbed Mt Kenya, then broke back in, achieving fame with his book Fuga Sul Kenya which he rewrote himself in English as No Picnic on Mount Kenya. His subsequent diplomatic career parallelled that of Amedeo: he was Ambassador to Uruguay when Amedeo was Ambassador to India. Do you have any evidence of the two corresponding?

  5. Hello, I am now reading the italian translation of your book on Amedeo Guillet (“Amedeo. Vita, avventure e amori di Amedeo Guillet”). I find it a very good book with a fluent translation. As you have interviewed Amedeo for such a long time, I wonder if he also gave you his birth hour. I wrote to the township of Piacenza asking for a birth certificate, but to no avail. Thank you for your attention.