Thursday, July 29, 2010

Lieutenant-General Peter Walls : How tall was he?

Lieutenant-General Peter Walls, who has died aged 83, was the last commander of Ian Smith's Rhodesian armed forces; his otherwise distinguished military career ended in humiliation when he became involved in the political turmoil that surrounded Robert Mugabe's accession to power in Zimbabwe in 1980.

The above headline was taken from the Telegraph. The obituary has some inaccuracies and also some interesting comments…but -

What has cropped up on numerous online forums with reference to the passing away of Lieutenant-General Peter Walls - exactly how tall was he? There seems to be discrepancies, and as a former police officer, Boy Scout and enthusiastic amateur forensic scientist, I believe I have solved the problem using a picture downloaded from the net.

Looking at a South African made standard 330ml tin of Castle Lager in Wall’s hand, it should be possible to work out his height. The can measures exactly 4 and  a half inches high. In the picture I printed out, the tin is 1 inch high. Using this scale, I measured his head. I had to guess a bit where it ended under the cap, but it is safe to say it ended just about where the badge ends.

That means his head is… I will just switch to millimetres for a bit…

Okay, tin is 25mm and head is 43mm in the picture. So if the real tin is 115mm, therefore 25mm is 22% of real tin. Erm…(I am getting a bit lost here.) So…if I divide 25mm into 43mm, I get 1.72 tins per head. Multiply that by 115mm = 198mm.

Convert back into inches (give or take a hair’s breadth), we have a tad under 8 inches, which means his head was about the size of a large turnip. Now if we look at the next picture - according to the chart, the head is 7 times the body height, thus he was 56 inches, or 4 feet 8 inches tall. Quite remarkable he was allowed to enrol in the army at all!

Obviously these observations may be not quite accurate, or for that matter, my math skills may be a bit wobbly.

1 comment:

John said...

No, that sounds about right.