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16th October 1942
Page 11
Page 11, 16th October 1942 — THE FIRST COMMANDOS
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AMONG the great men of action in antiquity the name of Hannibal stands out as a skilful tactician, and a bold and resourceful leader. We can forget his defeats and disappointments and his final betrayal into the hands of his enemies by a trusted friend and ally. These things belong to the commonplace in history. His elephants do not, and it is by these we remember him.

When Hannibal brought his corps of war-elephants on their thousand-mile journey through Spain and France to cross the Alps and descend upon the strongly fortified Roman outposts in the hills of piedmont and the plains of Lombardy, he did something which will be recalled as long as history is recorded. Hannibal's elephants might be described as (--- 'living tanks.' The simile holds good in so far as they were armoured mobile units paving the way for infantry. Strategically, however, they are better likened to our Commandos, for it was the sheer audacity of their assaults and their exploitation of the advantages of the surprise element in attack which gained them their success. Breaking suddenly from the cover of dense forest, they caused the hitherto invincible Roman cavalry to stampede and the well-disciplined infantry legions to break their ranks and fly in panic. Two thousand years of time cannot dim the glory of that daring venture.

Originality, courage and resourcefulness have never foiled to make their mark. They are qualities of leadership in the arts of peace, no less than in the arts of war..


People: Hannibal

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