Today’s find in the Library of Congress Flickr feed is a curious pair of photographs.
Consider, first of all,Eduard Freiherr von Böhm-Ermolli, Austrian (and eventually German) field marshal (served primarily in WWI, died in 1941):
The moustache alone is rather…ehem…striking, but it’s not just this guy’s charming appearance that gets my attention today. It’s the fact that he’s right next to Lt. R. A. J. Warneford in the stream.
Both of these men fought in the same war on different sides, and had strikingly opposed personalities. Ermolli (his wife’s name, actually) appears to have been a military career man, seeking and attaining both political and social advancement through the army. While his promotions (especially during his initial rise through the ranks) were plainly earned through a combination of competence and bravery, he seems on the whole to have been as cautious, deliberate, and orderly as his facial hair. Lt. Warneford (awarded the Victoria Cross after taking out a zeppelin by himself and then making his way home sfely after going down behind enemy lines), on the other hand, was the classic cheeky daredevil. He’s straight out of central casting, really — the charming rogue pilot with the mad skillz and the total lack of discipline who does three impossible things before breakfast (to borrow a phrase). Everything about him in this picture says so — especially the look on his face.
I can imagine the good Freiherr, if he had ever met the cocky Lieutenant, would have wanted to wipe that fucking smirk right off his face.
I can imagine the good Lieutenant finding nothing more entertaining than the thought of giving the ol’ Freiherr’s moustache a good pull.
They’re a sort of tragic Odd Couple — and only Felix survives this show. Oscar’s heedless daring gets him killed.
And there they are, face to face in the Flickr stream, frozen opposite each other. Their war is over, but that crazy ‘stache and that annoying smirk will live forever.