Violet Gibson,would be assassin-The Irish woman who nearly killed Mussolini

Mugshot Violet Gibson

This is one of those ‘What if’ stories, a different result would have made a massive impact on world’s history.

Gibson was born in Dublin, Ireland, on August 31 1876. Her father was an Irish lawyer and politician, Edward Gibson, who was created Baron Ashbourne in 1886.

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Her mother, Frances, was a Christian Scientist. Violet grew up in well-heeled Merrion Square. Her early life was one of privilege and society events as part of a large Anglo-Irish family dividing their time between Dublin and London. At 18, Violet was a debutante in the court of Queen Victoria.

In 1913, Violet moved to Paris, working for pacifist organisations. She contracted Paget’s disease; a mastectomy left a nine-inch scar on her chest. She returned to England, where botched surgery for appendicitis resulted in lifelong chronic abdominal pain.

In 1922, she suffered a nervous breakdown, was declared insane and committed to a mental institution. Two years later, accompanied by a nurse called Mary McGrath, Violet was released and traveled to Rome, where she lived in a convent. She had developed a religious mania  convinced of a divinely inspired mission to kill.

On 7 April 1926, Violet Gibson shot Mussolini, Italy’s Fascist leader, as he walked among the crowd in the Piazza del Campidoglio in Rome after leaving an assembly of the International Congress of Surgeons, to whom he had delivered a speech on the wonders of modern medicine. Gibson had armed herself with a rock to break Mussolini’s car window (not needed), and a Modèle 1892 revolver hidden in a black shawl.

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She fired once, but Mussolini moved his head at that moment and the shot hit his nose; she tried again, but the gun misfired.[She was almost lynched on the spot by an angry mob, but police intervened and took her off for questioning. Mussolini was wounded only slightly, dismissing his injury as “a mere trifle”, and after his nose was bandaged he continued his parade on the Capitoline.Wounded Mussolini

 

Violet was captured and beaten by a mob; the police smuggled her away before she was killed. Under interrogation, she claimed to have shot Mussolini “to glorify God” who had kindly sent an angel to keep her arm steady.

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At the time of the assassination attempt she was almost fifty years old and did not explain her reasons for trying to assassinate Mussolini. It has been theorised that Gibson was insane at the time of the attack and the idea of assassinating Mussolini was hers and that she worked alone. She was later deported to Britain after being released without charge at the request of Mussolini.

Her family wrote, apologising, to the Italian government. She was declared a “chronic paranoiac” and returned to England and St Andrew’s Hospital. Violet died on May 2, 1956. Sadly, there were no mourners.dsc_0221_nef_embedded-resized

What if she would have been successful? It is strange to see the’softer’ side of Mussolini, he could have easily made sure she’d get a death sentence.

By sad coincidence, Gibson would share her last years at St Andrew’s with another notable patient of Irish origin, Lucia Joyce. That was the culmination of an even more torturous family tragedy, one begun in 1930 when, romantically rejected by Samuel Beckett, James Joyce’s daughter had first shown signs of mental illness.

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Sources

Irish Times

Irish Independent

 

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The Princess in the Concentration Camp

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If it wasn’t for the awful setting of this story, the title could have referred to a fairy tale. But alas this is everything but a fairy tale even though it is a ‘grim tale’.

Mafalda was born on 2 November 1902 in Rome to King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy and his wife, Elena of Montenegro. Her maternal grandparents were King Nicholas I of Montenegro and his wife, Milena Vukotić. Her paternal grandparents were King Umberto I of Italy and his wife, Princess Margherita of Savoy.

In childhood she was close to her mother, from whom she inherited a love for music and the arts. During World War I, she accompanied her mother on her visits to Italian military hospitals.Bundesarchiv_Bild_102-00061,_Elena_von_Montenegro

In September 1925, Mafalda married Prince Philipp of Hesse, Landgrave of Hesse-Kassel, who was also the grandson of German Emperor Frederick III. Philipp was a known member of the German Nazi Party.As Governor of Hesse-Kassel, Philipp was complicit in the Aktion T4 euthanasia programme. In February 1941, Philipp signed the contract placing the sanitarium of Hadamar Clinic at the disposal of the Reich Interior Ministry. Over 10,000 mentally ill people were killed there. In 1946, Philipp was charged with murder, but the charges were later dropped.

Princess Mafalda of Savoy

As Italy would ally itself with Germany during World War II, Philipp used his position as a German royal married to an Italian royal to his advantage and acted as an intermediary between the two nations. On the evening of the 26 March 1935, she was present at an informal diplomatic dinner given by Adolf Hitler in the Reich President’s House in Berlin. She sat next to Anthony Eden .she had no idea how things would change less than ten years later.

Adolf Hitler and his Minister of Propaganda, Joseph Goebbels saw the Princess as a threat to the German war effort with Hitler calling her the “blackest carrion in the Italian royal house.” Goebbels, for his part, called her the “worst b**** in the entire Italian royal house” in the Goebbels Diaries.

Early in September 1943, Princess Mafalda traveled to Bulgaria to attend the funeral of her brother-in-law, King Boris III.

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While there, she was informed of Italy’s surrender to the Allied Powers, that her husband was being held under house arrest in Bavaria, and that her children had been given sanctuary in the Vatican. The Gestapo ordered her arrest, and on 23 September she received a telephone call from Hauptsturmführer Karl Hass at the German High Command, who told her that he had an important message from her husband. On her arrival at the German embassy, Mafalda was arrested, ostensibly for subversive activities. The Nazis shipped her to Berlin for questioning. Then they shipped her to Buchenwald, largely in retribution for her father’s perceived treachery. They called her Frau von Weber, although several Italian prisoners recognized her as Princess Mafalda.

Buchenwald concentration camp.

On 24 August 1944, the Allies bombed an ammunition factory inside Buchenwald. Some four hundred prisoners were killed and Princess Mafalda was seriously wounded: she had been housed in a unit adjacent to the bombed factory, and when the attack occurred she was buried up to her neck in debris and suffered severe burns to her arm. The conditions of the labour camp caused her arm to become infected, and the medical staff at the facility amputated it; she bled profusely during the operation and never regained consciousness. She died during the night of 26–27 August 1944; they tossed her body on a pile of corpses. A priest smuggled her body out and placed it in a wooden coffin. Coffin #262 was buried nearby, with no name and no ceremony. Years after the war, in 1951, a group of Italian sailors held at Buchenwald identified her burial site and her coffin was removed. Now, Mafalda is buried with her husband’s family in Kronberg Castle in Hesse

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Before the war ended, the Nazis transferred her husband, Phillip, to Dachau. American soldiers eventually arrested him when they liberated the camps. After he served his sentence, he became an interior designer and lived out his life in Rome until his death in 1980.

Mafalda and Phillip had 3 children who all survived the war.

When I was researching this story I couldn’t help feeling sorry for her, but I have to be honest the thought ‘karma’ also came to mind.

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Sources

History of Royal women

 

 

Happy Birthday Santa Claus

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I know what you’re all thinking” Has he lost his marbles, we are only 2 days away from St Patrick’s day and he is coming up with a Christmas story”

Do not worry I can assure you that I still have all my faculties. Legend has it that on this day in the year 280 Saint Nicholas was born. Saint Nicholas who we now know as Santa Claus, Saint Nick or if you live in a Dutch speaking country Sinterklaas or still as Saint Nicholas

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There are so many different version of his origin varying between Lapland and Spain.

According to tradition, he was born in the ancient Lycian seaport city of Patara, currently in Turkey,,when he was young, he traveled to the Middle East. He became bishop of Myra soon after returning to Lycia. He was imprisoned during the persecution of Christians by the Roman emperor Diocletian but was released under the rule of Constantine the Great. He attended the first Council of Nicaea (325), where he allegedly struck the heretic Arius in the face.

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He was buried in his church at Myra, and by the 6th century his shrine there had become well known. In 1087 Italian sailors or merchants stole his alleged remains from Myra and took them to Bari, Italy; this removal greatly increased the saint’s popularity in Europe, and Bari became one of the most crowded of all pilgrimage centres. Nicholas’s relics remain enshrined in the 11th-century basilica of San Nicola at Bari,

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It is however also alleged that Saint Nicholas is buried in County Kilkenny,Ireland. Tradition in these parts tell that the earthly remains of St. Nicholas were secretly removed from Bari by returning crusader knights, who brought them back to Newtown Jerpoint for safe keeping.

The grave’s stone slab is carved with the image of a cleric with the heads of two knights behind each shoulder, said to be those of the two crusaders who, so the story goes, brought Nicholas’s remains to Ireland. Evidence lends some credence to this tale as the Normans in Kilkenny were keen collectors of religious relics, and it is known that Norman knights participated in the Holy Land Crusades.

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We all know of course that all these theories are incorrect because he still delivers present every Christmas.

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I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

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Raid of the Ghetto of Rome

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There are two sad elements to this story.

A-As so oft before during WWII victims had been given a sense of hope, often false hope given by the Nazi’s to even inflict psychological terror upon the physical crimes. However in this case the hope was given by the allies.

B. So very little is known about this event, just the numbers and no names.

On 10 July 1943, a combined force of American and British Commonwealth troops invaded Sicily.

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German generals again took the lead in the defense and, although they lost the island after weeks of bitter fights, they succeeded in ferrying large numbers of German and Italian forces safely off Sicily to the Italian mainland. On 19 July, an Allied air raid on Rome destroyed both military and collateral civil installations. With these two events, popular support for the war diminished in Italy.

On 25 July, the Grand Council of Fascism voted to limit the power of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and handed control of the Italian armed forces over to King Victor Emmanuel III.

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The next day Mussolini met with the King, was dismissed as prime minister, and was then imprisoned. A new Italian government, led by General Pietro Badoglio and Victor Emmanuel III, took over in Italy. Although they publicly declared that they would keep fighting alongside the Germans, the new Italian government began secret negotiations with the Allies to come over to the Allied side.On 3 September, a secret armistice was signed with the Allies at Fairfield Camp in Sicily. The armistice was publicly announced on 8 September. By then, the Allies were on the Italian mainland, giving hope to the Jews in Rome, hope that they would be liberated soon.

Only two months after Mussolini had been dismissed and arrested, he was rescued from his prison at the Hotel Campo Imperatore in the Gran Sasso raid by a special Fallschirmjäger (paratroopers) unit on 12 September 1943; present was Otto Skorzeny.

Otto Skorzeny

The rescue saved Mussolini from being turned over to the Allies, as per the armistice.

Three days following his rescue in the Gran Sasso raid, Mussolini was taken to Germany for a meeting with Hitler in Rastenburg at his East Prussian headquarters. Despite public professions of support, Hitler was clearly shocked by Mussolini’s disheveled and haggard appearance as well as his unwillingness to go after the men in Rome who overthrew him. Feeling that he had to do what he could to blunt the edges of Nazi repression, Mussolini agreed to set up a new regime, the Italian Social Republic.

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The RSI was proclaimed on 23 September 1943. Although the RSI claimed most of the lands of Italy as rightfully belonging to it, it held political control over a vastly reduced portion of Italy.The RSI received diplomatic recognition from only Germany, Japan and their puppet states.

Just over 3 weeks later the Jewish ghetto in Rome was raided

On October 16, 1943, the Raid of the Ghetto of Rome occurred. 1,259 members of the Jewish community including 363 men, 689 women and 207 children were captured by the Gestapo. SS Captain Theodor Dannecker ordered that the ghetto be emptied.

Trucks pulled up on the cobblestoned piazza beside the Portico d’Ottavia, the neighborhood was sealed, and 365 German soldiers fanned out through the narrow streets and courtyards. Families hid at the backs of their shuttered shops. The able-bodied and quick-witted jumped from their windows or fled along the rooftops. The unlucky were hounded from their homes at gunpoint and herded into the idling trucks.

Of these, 1,023 were deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp; only 15 men and one woman survived.

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Musica Italiano

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Don’t worry I haven’t suddenly turned Italian and although the music in this blog will be in Italian, the text won’t be.

The thing is every once in a while I like to deviate from my usually heavier historical subjects to a more light-hearted one.

I love Italy, I had the chance to visit the country several times especially a small town called Valli del Pasubio and a even smaller village called Sturma(you’ll ne hard pressed to find it on a map). I first visited as a young teenager

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To be honest I fell in love with the place.It is where I first learned how to eat proper food,not the potatoes and apple sauce diet I had insisted on prior to that. The food was just heavenly and 16 stone further I still have a loving relationship with food.

The blog however is about Italian music and not food.Even before I set foot in Italy I had a bit of a weak spot for Italian music,although I was a metal head, I couldn’t help falling for the soothing tones of the Italian language converted into music.

Italian music is often referred to as Italo Pop or Italo Disco but I don’t think any of these names capture the essence of the music.

Although I don’t really understand the songs, I do know that they tell a story just by the rhythm of the tunes. The song above called Gente di Mare(people of the sea),by Umberto Tozzi & Raf lost out in 1987 to Johnny Logan at the Eurovision Contest.

This one of my all time favourites by Matia Bazar” Ti sento” which I believe means I feel you, the haunting husky voice just adds so much atmosphere to the song.

I am not an emotional man but the first time I heard Andrea Bocelli it literally send shivers down my spine.The combination of a classical tenor and contemporary music is just magical, like a fairy tale coming to life.

This song is proof that the language of music is without constraints and ignores physical borders. Sung in Italian,Dutch and English by an Italian Dutch man Marco Borsato and Andrea Bocelli. If this doesn’t give you Goosebumps nothing will.

Another 80’s Italian classic

 

I hope you enjoy the music just as much as I did. Finishing up with my favorite Italian song, it is jazz song in it’s purest and sincerest form by Paolo Conte.

 

 

The other Mussolinis

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Cynical me would have probably given this blog the title “Hey, karma is a b*tch” but I am aware that my audience is bigger then just me and therefore I aim to remain unbiased.

Bruno Mussolini (22 April 1918 – 7 August 1941) was the son of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and Mussolini’s wife Rachele.

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On 7 August 1941, the 23-year-old Mussolini, commander of the 274a Squadriglia (274th Squadron), was flying in one of the prototypes of the “secret” Piaggio P.108B bomber, MM22003,near the San Giusto Airport in Pisa, when the aircraft flew too low and crashed into a house.

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The Piaggio P-108 Bombardiere was a promising aircraft. Its four powerful engines and substantial 7,700-pound bomb payload gave it strategic capabilities, the only bomber produced in wartime Italy that could make that claim. However, the P-108 was produced in only limited numbers due to a lengthy development program, demands placed on Italian industrial capacity, and the scarcity of resources.

The youthful officer apparently failed to gain altitude and crashed into a house. Along with two crewmen, the pilot was killed. Five other crewmen were injured.

Just after 11 that morning, Benito Mussolini was stepping into his private elevator at the Palazzo Venezia in Rome when one of his aides rushed up. ““There’s been a crash at Pisa, Duce! Your son Bruno is wounded, and his condition is critical.” The dictator steadied himself against the sliding iron door and asked quietly, “Is he dead?” When the answer confirmed his worst fear, Mussolini was wracked with grief. He was a changed man.

The oldest son, Lieutenant Vittorio Mussolini, was heard to say some time later, “There was a Mussolini before Bruno’s death, and a Mussolini after it. Prior to August 7, 1941, despair was not part of his emotional range. The tragedy turned him into a different man whose lost stare, at times, provoked pity.”

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Mussolini hurried to the Santa Chiara Hospital in Pisa and gazed for a long time at the face of his dead son. Rachele was also devastated, but she remembered the most painful aspect of the ordeal as her husband’s silence. “It was as if he had turned to stone,” she said later.

Quiet though he may have been, at times Mussolini was prone to an occasional outburst prompted by his grief. Colonel Gori Castellani commanded the 247th Squadriglia of the Regia Aeronautica, the Italian Air Force, to which Bruno and Vittorio were assigned. When the colonel came to the distraught father’s office to extend his condolences, Mussolini bellowed, “I know why you are here! I know that you and everyone are pleased that I have suffered this loss. I don’t want to hear anything from you! You can get out!”

An inquiry absolved Bruno of any fault in the fatal accident, and he was subsequently awarded the Gold Medal for Aeronautic Valor. The New York Times reported that the investigation revealed the cause of the accident to be “…the improper functioning of the gas switch, due to the great distance between the motors and the pilot’s post.”

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An elaborate funeral was held at the Fascist Party headquarters in Pisa, and Bruno’s body was interred in the family crypt in the San Cassiano cemetery in the town of Predappio. Ironically, this father who deeply mourned the loss of his own son was responsible for the similar grief suffered by so many other families.

Battle of Santiago

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No this is not a piece on World War 2 or any other war for that matter,although it is often said that football is war.

The Battle of Santiago  is the name given to a particularly infamous football match during the 1962 FIFA World Cup. It was a game played between host Chile and Italy on 2 June 1962 in Santiago.The referee was Ken Aston, who later went on to invent yellow and red cards.

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By 1962 the World Cup had recovered from the 12-year hiatus imposed upon it by World War II and had become a fixture.

The 1954 and ’58 tournaments had both been held in Europe.  The nations of North and South America threatened to boycott the tournament—as they had done in 1938—if that trend continued.  Most assumed that Argentina would be the choice, but the Chilean federation mounted an underdog candidacy and ended up running away with the vote.

In this Group 2 clash, already heightened tensions between the two football teams were exacerbated by the description of Santiago in crude terms by two Italian journalists Antonio Ghirelli and Corrado Pizzinelli; they had written that Santiago was a backwater dump where “the phones don’t work, taxis are as rare as faithful husbands, a cable to Europe costs an arm and a leg and a letter takes five days to turn up”, and its population as prone to “malnutrition, illiteracy, alcoholism and poverty. Chile is a small, proud and poor country: it has agreed to organize this World Cup in the same way as Mussolini agreed to send our air force to bomb London (they didn’t arrive). The capital city has 700 hotel beds. Entire neighborhoods are given over to open prostitution. This country and its people are proudly miserable and backwards.”Chilean newspapers fired back, describing Italians in general as fascists, mafioso’s, oversexed, and, because some of Inter Milan’s players had recently been involved in a doping scandal, drug addicts.The journalists involved were forced to flee the country, while an Argentinian scribe mistaken for an Italian in a Santiago bar was beaten up and hospitalised.

Chile’s organization and preparation of the tournament had been severely disrupted by the 1960 Valdivia earthquake, the strongest earthquake ever recorded in human history.

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Articles in the Italian papers La Nazione and Corriere della Sera were saying that allowing Chile to host the World Cup was “pure madness”; this was used and magnified by local newspapers to inflame the Chilean population. The British newspaper the Daily Express wrote “The tournament shows every sign of developing into a violent bloodbath. Reports read like battlefront dispatches. Italy vs Germany was described as ‘wrestling and warfare'”

The first foul occurred within 12 seconds of the kick-off.[1] Italy’s Giorgio Ferrini was sent off in the twelfth minute after a foul on Honorino Landa, but refused to leave the pitch and had to be dragged off by policemen.

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Landa retaliated with a punch a few minutes later, but he was not sent off.

English referee Ken Aston overlooked a punch by Chilean Leonel Sánchez to Italian Mario David, which had come in retaliation for being fouled seconds earlier. When David kicked Sanchez in the head a few minutes later, he was sent off.

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In the violence that continued, Sanchez broke Humberto Maschio’s nose with a left hook, but Aston did not send him off. The two teams engaged in scuffles and spitting, and police had to intervene three more times. Chile won the match 2–0.

When highlights from the match were shown on British television a couple of days later (not the same night, because film of matches still had to be flown back), the match was famously introduced by BBC sports commentator David Coleman as: “the most stupid, appalling, disgusting and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game.

Secret message in a bullet

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One of the biggest mistakes Hitler made during WWII was actually partnering up with Benito Mussolini and his army.

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The Italian army was extremely effective before the war and well into 1941. The Italian army invaded Ethiopia and Albania and crushed the defending armies. However this was against countries with outdated tech, small armies and horrible leadership. So the Italian army, with more modern technology and better leadership (than the defenders at least) proved the Italian army to be a formidable opponent. Of course this was against nations that were significantly weaker than the Italian Army.

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Against militaries with equal strength, the Italian army was possibly the worst in combat. Compared to the other belligerents, the Italian army had outdated technology, most being designed or purchased around the early 1930’s, horrible leadership and insufficient support or intelligence.

In 1944, an Allied soldier somewhere in the south of Tuscany scribbled a coded message onto a scrap of paper, rolled it up, and stuffed it inside a bullet for safe keeping. It was August, and the tide of WWII was rapidly changing. The Allies were pushing into Europe and soon, the war would be over in Europe.

Recently, a team of Italian metal-detector fans were roaming around in southern Tuscany, picking up bits and pieces here and there. Then, someone found something odd.

It was a bullet that had been inverted into its own casing. It struck them as strange, since soldiers needed all the bullets they could get. When they pried the bullet out of its casing, they found something that no one had seen in decades.

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Hiding messages in bullets was actually not an uncommon practice. A bullet was opened, the powder dumped out, and a message placed inside. Bullets were small, making them easy to carry and to hide, and they could also be easily thrown away if a soldier was captured. Bullets made especially good message carriers because they could literally be left lying around anywhere; bullets are a pretty common site on a battlefield.

It’s dated 8/13/44. The order of the month and day, as well as historical evidence, mean the soldier who wrote this was probably American.

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So what does the coded message say?

“THEY THROW GRENADES. WE PULL PINS AND THROW BACK.”

And underneath:

“NOTIFY REINFORCEMENTS STAND DOWN–NOT NEEDED”

This means that during one engagement, the American soldiers, one of whom wrote this note were catching grenades thrown by the Axis soldiers, but their pins were still intact. What was the reason?

It seems that the grenades in question were an Italian variety that had two pins instead of the typical one. Both needed to be pulled in order for the grenade to detonate. But the grenades coming in on the American soldiers had only one pin pulled, which means that the soldiers throwing them were not Italian, as they would have been trained in how to use them, but German.

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Italy surrendered to the Allies in 1943, so the only troops still fighting there would have been German–and they would not have known that the Italian grenades had two pins. Imagine their surprise when the same grenades came flying back, and this time, they did explode. The Americans did their research, and it helped–to the point where reinforcements were definitely not needed.

The last days of “Il Duce” Benito Mussolini

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In September 1943, Nazi paratroopers staged a daring commando raid that rescued Mussolini from the Apennine Mountain ski resort where he was being detained. Hitler installed Mussolini as the figurehead of the Social Republic of Italy (known informally as the Republic of Salo), a Nazi puppet state in German-occupied northern Italy.

By April 25, 1945, however, the Third Reich was quickly losing its grip on northern Italy. With his stronghold of Milan teetering on the precipice, Mussolini agreed to meet with a delegation of partisans at the palace of Milan’s Cardinal Alfredo Schuster. There, a furious Mussolini learned that, unbeknownst to him, the Nazis had begun negotiations for an unconditional surrender.

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Mussolini stormed out of the palace and fled Milan with his 33-year-old mistress, Clara Petacci, in the 1939 Alfa Romeo sport car he had bought as a gift for his girlfriend.

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The following day, the pair joined a convoy of fellow fascists and German soldiers heading north toward Lake Como and the border with Switzerland. Mussolini donned a German Luftwaffe helmet and overcoat, but the disguise did little to save him when partisans stopped the convoy at the lakeside town of Dongo ,on the north western shore of Lake Como.,on April 27. For 20 years, Mussolini had built a cult of personality with his image emblazoned on posters and newspapers. Now, the familiarity of his distinctive shaved head and granite jaw, even in disguise, did him in.

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A group of local communist partisans led by Pier Luigi Bellini delle Stelle and Urbano Lazzaro attacked the convoy and forced it to halt.

 

The partisans recognised one Italian fascist leader in the convoy, but not Mussolini at this stage, and made the Germans hand over all the Italians in exchange for allowing the Germans to proceed. Eventually Mussolini was discovered slumped in one of the convoy vehicles. Lazzaro later said that

His face was like wax and his stare glassy, but somehow blind. I read utter exhaustion, but not fear … Mussolini seemed completely lacking in will, spiritually dead.

The partisans arrested Mussolini and took him to Dongo, where he spent part of the night in the local barracks.In all, over fifty fascist leaders and their families were found in the convoy and arrested by the partisans. Aside from Mussolini and Petacci, sixteen of the most prominent of them would be summarily shot in Dongo the following day and a further ten would be killed over two successive nights.

Claretta Petacci, Mussolini’s mistress, was captured  with him.

Fighting was still going on in the area around Dongo. Fearing that Mussolini and Petacci might be rescued by fascist supporters, the partisans drove them, in the middle of the night, to a nearby farm of a peasant family named de Maria; they believed this would be a safe place to hold them. Mussolini and Petacci spent the rest of the night and most of the following day there.

On the evening of Mussolini’s capture, Sandro Pertini, the Socialist partisan leader in northern Italy, announced on Radio Milano:

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“The head of this association of delinquents, Mussolini, while yellow with rancour and fear and trying to cross the Swiss frontier, has been arrested. He must be handed over to a tribunal of the people so it can judge him quickly. We want this, even though we think an execution platoon is too much of an honour for this man. He would deserve to be killed like a mangy dog.”

Mussolini and Claretta Petacci were executed the following day.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks

$2.00

 

The SS John Harvey disaster

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SS John Harvey was a U.S. World War II Liberty ship. This ship is most well known for carrying a secret cargo of mustard gas and whose sinking by German aircraft in December 1943 at the port of Bari in south Italy caused an unintentional release of chemical weapons.

The John Harvey was built by the North Carolina Shipbuilding Company in Wilmington, North Carolina, and launched on 9 January 1943.

In August 1943, Roosevelt approved the shipment of chemical munitions containing mustard agent to the Mediterranean theater. On 18 November 1943 the John Harvey, commanded by Captain Elwin F. Knowles, sailed from Oran, Algeria, to Italy, carrying 2,000 M47A1 mustard gas bombs, each of which held 60–70 lb of sulfur mustard.

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After stopping for an inspection by an officer of the 7th Chemical Ordnance Company at Augusta, Sicily on 26 November, the John Harvey sailed through the Strait of Otranto to arrive at Bari.

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Bari was packed with ships waiting to be unloaded, and the John Harvey had to wait for several days. Captain Knowles wanted to tell the British port commander about his deadly cargo and request it be unloaded as soon as possible, but secrecy prevented him doing so.

On 2 December 1943 German aircraft attacked Bari, killing over 1,000 people, and sinking 17 ships,including the John Harvey, which was destroyed in a huge explosion, causing liquid sulfur mustard to spill into the water and a cloud of sulfur mustard vapor to blow over the city.

A total of 628 military victims were hospitalized with mustard gas symptoms, and by the end of the month, 83 of them had died. The number of civilian casualties, thought to have been even greater, could not be accurately gauged since most had left the city to seek shelter with relatives.

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