Oct. 16th, 2010

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Thomas Cochrane was the 10th Earl of Dundonald, who joined the British Navy as a teenager at the end of the 18th Century.

He was a strategic genius (some of his naval campaigns are breathtaking in their bloodless cunning - unusually for the time, he gave a shit about risking as few of his sailors' lives as possible - in fact he suffered by it, as it was thought that if only, say, three men had died then it couldn't have been that impressive an engagement, could it?), but unfortunately he wasn't very good at interpersonal politics, and was always unpopular with the officious idiots in the Admiralty.

And he got shafted unfairly in a stockmarket scandal, history seems to record. At which point he got chucked out the navy and had to find a new job. So he was hired by the Chilean government to help them win independence from the Spanish, which he achieved with very little loss of life, as was his wont.

And I was delighted to see that the current Chilean president, President Pinera - riding high on the miners' rescue thing right now - mentioned Admiral Cochrane as his first example of a Brit who was a friend of the Chilean people when he was interviewed by the BBC today. Nice to know they still remember.

Shame they didn't pay him on time (check the history). But hey - it's nice his name is remembered by the president even now.


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