Saturday, 23 November 2013

Can you help my daughter?

My middle daughter has a request-

"As part of my university course I am doing a group presentation about the colour white.  My section of the presentation is the associations of the colour white in war.  I have already come up with the ideas of a white feather for cowardice, white flag for surrender and white bandages.  I was wondering if anybody had any other thoughts?Thanks, Anna"
Let's see what you can come up with chaps!

25 comments:

  1. Might I offer "camouflage", I have Lineol figures made in 1939 painted with white uniforms and helmets to represent the Finns in the Winter War. Also my wife suggests the "White Dove of Peace" as depicted in several wartime posters and paintings. A little modern perhaps but there are the "white poppies" of current anti war sentiment.

    Finally I offer you the "Whitewash" of the poiticians who get us into these abominable situations and then squirm their way out when it all goes wrong!

    Best wishes, Brian

    ReplyDelete
  2. What about 'Whites' as a political faction, as in the Russian Civil War? And didn't the Teutonic Knights wear a lot of white?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Templars and other knightly orders used white a lot (because its simbology as a symbol of purity, IIRC). Also, IIRC, in Japan it was representative of death...

      Delete
  3. Arme Blanche ? nearest meaning Cold Steel but often used for cavalry in general.

    John

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I believe - tho' I stand to be coerrected - that the 'Arme blanche' might refer to the white coats favoured by the heavy, armoured, cavalry (properly so-called) of just about all European armies.

      Delete
    2. I've always thought Arme Blanche was a mediaeval Knightly reference - puissant knight, sans reproche, etcetc?? I also stand ready to be corrected!

      Delete
    3. Arme blanche or arma blanca means a weapon out of its scabbard (see: http://www.spainswords.com/articulo6.html or http://www.1de3.es/2007/08/04/arma-blanca/).

      Delete
    4. I have always used it in the meaning nearest to Salvador, literally the blade of the weapon. Of course, I use lots of things wrongly. I think cold steel is the nearest we get in English to that image.

      I have come across several references in late Victorian military books to cavalry as the Arme Blanche of the army. Most recently Thomas Packenham uses it in his excellent book on the Boer War, 1979.

      Delete
    5. In fact there is the white armour (arnès blanc in catalan), meaning a plate (polished steel) armour without any tabard. You see, white is applied to "make" steel. White metal is the expression used when meaning metal, not brass, buttons in Napoleonics too.

      Delete
  4. A and A,
    how about - the Jacobite's and the white cockade used as a symbol. Then there's Henry IV (of France) and his white panache, used so he could be visible to his army. Or at least I think it was him - might have been d'Enghien. Napoleon and his white horse. Probably also used for visibility.

    maybe more if I think of any,
    Tom

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. White was a colour used by the Bourbon dynasty, hence the white cockades; white for visibility is a boon.

      Delete
    2. As you can see here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_armour

      Delete
  5. In Elizabethan times the Royal Navy had three squadrons, Red, White and Blue which survived through to Nelsons time when he was Vice Admiral of the White when he died at Trafalgar. White was the Mediterranean Squadron and junior to the Red Squadron which was the Home Fleet in the Channel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The three 'squadrons' referred to the fleet divided into three: the van (White), main body, or centre (Red) and the rear (Blue). Descending order of seniority: Red, White and Blue. The French had an equivalent, though with only two colours (Blue and White) one of the squadrons (I think the van) had to be 'Blue-and-White'.

      Delete
  6. The white brassard worn by Allied nations during the 1813 campaign against Napoleon to avoid confusion from the multiplicity of uniforms.

    Newcastle's 'Whitecoats' in the ECW and their stand at Marston Moor.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The White Company by Conan Doyle
    Case White (Fall Weiss) Invasion of Poland later also operations in Yugoslavia
    White Rose (die Weiße Rose) German Resistance Group in WWII

    White anti-flash clothing
    Ant-flash paint (see wikipedia) used on V bombers and other nuke bombers.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The famous line from the American Revolutionary War . . . "Don't shoot until you see the white of their eyes" . . . essentially intended to be a range marker for those muzzle-loading flintlock armed soldiers.

    Also quite a few armies had white uniforms . . . particularly during the black powder period where smoke would quickly obscure the battlefield and brightly colored uniforms helped keep blocks of troops visible so the Generals could see where they were.

    And I'll echo all of the previous suggestions (some of which I'd thought of too).


    -- Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hospital ships are painted white...

    ReplyDelete
  10. America's "Great White Fleet" (painted white) sent to circle the globe before World War One:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_White_Fleet


    -- Jeff

    ReplyDelete
  11. The Austro-Hungarian army wore white uniforms well into the 19th century.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Personally, I regard white as a very military colour, and I'm sure I'm not the first to think so. White uniforms were favoured in 'horse and musket' times by Spanish, Austro-Hungarians, pre-Revolutionary French, Neapolitans; and by Russian and Prussian Cuirassiers (cavalry).

    It may be (some research might need to be dome on this) that not many cultures regard showing white as signifying peaceable intent (such as surrender, requesting terms or and offer of parley). As has also been mentioned, White has more than once been used as an identifier: the wearing of a white favour identifying what side you were on.

    The White Rose of the Yorkists is legendary, but may be apocryphal, other symbols being more prominently associated with that faction in the 15th Century: The sun-in-splendour (mentioned in the first lines of Shakespeare's Richard III opening soliloquy), was one such; and Richard himself was associated with the White Boar. White cockades were another highly visible identifier.

    I think it is worth mentioning white as a 'metal' in vexillology signifying silver: 'argent' (along with yellow, signifying gold: 'or'). Those tweo apparently unmartial colours make such a strong contrast with colours in particular, they are often used to separate colours, in some way - by a charge (?) such as a fess, pale, bend, cross, saltire or chevron, or by fimbriation - a thin outline separating colours.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I remember that Napoleon revert back to the white uniform of the French before the Revolution and was so shocked at how it showed up blood after a battle that you ordered that the army back into blue uniforms

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not really; the British not permitting enough indigo for dying the uniforms was a factor in the return to white, but this was a colour so assimilated with Bourbon dynasty that it was not to be received with joy by the French...

      Delete
  14. There is something I forgot to mention. White has sometimes been associated with peace or peaceableness; and occasionally with cowardice (but the latter has also been signified by yellow). But a more important literary association is with purity - not just virginity and chasteness, but something unsullied, honest and clean. Given the aphorism that 'cleanliness is next to godliness, white does have certain associations with religion and piety - especially in Christianity (I have an idea that there is a similar association in Islam, but I'm not sure why I should think this). Hence I think the Crusades being associated with the colour white.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Also, there are the mercenary "white companies" (as they are called in Spain) in which Bertrand Du Gueclin participated, fighting in the Castilian civil wars. See:
    http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bertrand_du_Guesclin
    http://www.delsolmedina.com/GuerraPedroIEnrqII9.htm
    http://www.arcomedievo.es/bertrandhisto.htm
    Using of translator is better than English versions as the exact reference can be lost.

    ReplyDelete