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Britain's Greatest Foe Revealed

Last updated: 14 April 2012

George Washington has been voted Britain’s Greatest Enemy Commander in the National Army Museum’s nationwide poll.

George WashingtonGeorge Washington

After months of fierce online voting, in which Napoleon, Rommel, Collins, Atatürk and Washington have all vied for the top spot, the deciding votes were cast at the Museum’s speaker day on Saturday 14 April. Washington won with 30 votes, beating off his nearest rival by 16 votes.

Voting results:

  1. George Washington - 30 votes
  2. Michael Collins - 14 votes
  3. Napoleon Bonaparte - 12 votes
  4. Erwin Rommel - 7 votes
  5. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - 4 votes

The final vote concluded a hard-fought contest launched by the Museum back in February, which asked the public to vote online for their top foe. From its launch on 13 February to its close on 31 March, the online voting site attracted almost 8,000 votes and over 300,000 web hits.

The top five commanders, as determined by the online poll, then went forward to be represented at the all-day speaker event, where guests voted George Washington as the ultimate foe.

The poll was created to highlight the achievements of Britain’s most celebrated enemies and to draw attention to some of our lesser-known adversaries. In assembling the shortlist the main criterion was that each commander must have led an army against British forces in the field of battle (which saw the exclusion of some political enemies, like Adolf Hitler) and that they must fall within the Museum’s historical remit (from the 17th century onwards). The final selection demonstrates the global nature of the British Army's deployments throughout the centuries.


For more information or images, please contact:

  • National Army Museum press office
    020 7881 2433

Notes to editors

The National Army Museum explores the impact of the British Army on the story of Britain, Europe and the world; how Britain's past has helped to shape our present and our future and how the actions of a few can affect the futures of many.

The National Army Museum was established by Royal Charter to tell the story of the Land Forces of the Crown wherever they were raised. Opened by the Queen in 1960, it moved to its current site in Chelsea in 1971.


mike guilfoyle
15 April 2012, 12.06pm

Can I thank the Friends group

Can I thank the Friends group for organising the Speaker Day. The guest speakers provided a stimulating, informative and controversial range of talks and it was a pleasure to be in the audience. Look forward to another speakers event.

Harvey Blank
15 April 2012, 8.40pm

As an American, I am proud

As an American, I am proud that your museum followers have recognized our General Washington as Britain's greatest military adversary. I am grateful that our two countries continue to be closely allied in the cause of democracy.

Thomas Pritchard
16 April 2012, 6.14pm

This from probably the

This from probably the fightingest people on the planet!

The British have fought just about everybody, everywhere!

They've fought on every Continent with the possible exception of Antarctica. They've fought on every Ocean and every Sea. If there was a body of water big enough to float a boat they probably fought on it!

High praise indeed!

Neil Whitworth
17 April 2012, 10.22am

A significant number of

A significant number of people left the hall before the last speaker put forward his case (for Gen Collins). They were allowed to vote. Surely this was a fault in the voting procedure because one assumes that none of those people voted for Collins. How could they, not having heard the argument put forward in his case? Having said that I agree that Washington was certainly the greatest military commander faced by the British.

Alan S. Drake
17 April 2012, 5.26pm

Andrew Jackson should have

Andrew Jackson should have made the final five.

Gen. Jackson commanded a mixed force that included mainly militia, but also Lafite's pirates, ordinary citizens that joined the line and a only a few hundred regulars. This combined force was still out-numbered almost 3 to 1, yet he inflicted the most extreme defeat on the British Army in it's history !

In the climatic Battle of New Orleans, US casualties were
Dead - 13
Wounded - 39
Missing - 19

British Regulars
Dead - 291 (including two generals)
Wounded - 1,267 (including one general)
Missing/Captured - 484

This is after the Battle of Horseshoe Bend when Gen. Jackson defeated British Indian allies.

The British Army and Navy retreated despite still having a 2+ to 1 numerical advantage and much greater firepower.

Andrew Jackson had an implacable hatred towards the British, bearing a sword scar on his face he received as a child from a British officer during the Revolution because he refused to black his boots.

Later, as President, he founded what is known as "Jacksonian Democracy" by political scientists.

21 April 2012, 12.49pm

It would be more accurate and

It would be more accurate and better to name this poll " Nation Leaders (commanders) falling victim to British Enmity" because during Gallipoli wars, which started as a result of the invation attack carried out by both british navy and troops(and other nations), it was the Great Turkish Nation that was in the defending position of its motherland. And it was the honorable Turkish Soldier who took care of the injuries of the wounded british soldiers and gave them food and water. It is my humble opinion that a new dictionary needs writing in order to define the words "foe" and "friend" for brits.

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