Author(s): Sebastian O'Kelly
In December 1941, a wounded and half-starved prisoner festered in the sweltering dungeon of Hodeida, the chief port of neutral Yemen. His fellow inmates viewed him with suspicion. Although his Arabic was fluent, the accent was not that of a Yemeni. Some said he was a soldier from the war between the Nazarenes; others had heard he was a spy in the pay of the British in Aden; there were those who even believed he was a Christian.
The prisoner was in fact Amedeo Guillet, star of Italy's Olympic riding team and a war hero, who had led against the British the last cavalry charge their army ever faced, when they invaded Italy's African empire at the beginning of the Second World War.
While serving in Abyssinia, he had fallen in love with Khadija a beautiful Eritrean Moslem, who became his constant companion. When in turn the British conquered Italian East Africa, Amadeo and Khadija became guerrillas, derailing British trains, blowing up bridges and looting convoys. They remained together until the fateful day when their pursuers finally closed in.
With all the romance of fiction, this true story, illustrated with a unique collection of photographs, provides a gripping account of an extraordinary man's determination to retrieve some honour after the shame of Mussolini's declaration of war and Italy's subsequent defeats. An intimate of the Italian royal family, and the friend of leading figures such as the Italo Balbo and the Duke of Aosta, Amedeo Guillet also provides fascinating testimony into how Italy was pitched into the ultimate gamble of world war.