Monday, September 30, 2013
Monday, September 23, 2013
Sunday, September 15, 2013
During this battle, unfamiliarity with the terrain and misinformation provided by guides in the pay of the enemy, led a small Italian colonial column of 18,000 troops (mostly African natives with Italian officers) to become separated and then attacked piecemeal and overwhelmed by a massive Ethiopian army of well over 100,000. In the aftermath, many of the survivors on the Italian side were massacred and/or tortured and mutilated. Those who were taken prisoner were not released at the close of hostilities but held for ransom (which was paid secretly by King Umberto I of Italy to the Ethiopian Emperor). It horrified public opinion in Italy and brought down the government of the long-time political powerhouse Francesco Crispi (a proud and ambitious veteran of “The Thousand”). Now, enter Prince Henri of Orleans. Throughout his life Prince Henri had proven himself to be a bold and intrepid traveler as well as a condescending man. He was most known for being an inveterate Anglophobe, writing and uttering many a diatribe insulting and condemning Great Britain in the harshest terms. Yet, oddly enough, the British seemed to celebrate him in spite of that. He would learn that Italians responded quite differently to being insulted.
The time and place were decided; August 15, 1897 in Vaucresson at Versailles. The weapon chosen was the sword since, even though the French preferred to duel with pistols, the Italians felt this unworthy of princes deciding a matter of honor. In Italy, pistols were used by cuckolded husbands while nobles and the high born settled differences with the saber. So, at five o’clock in the morning, it began with the duel being supervised by Count Leontieff and Count Avogadro in the Bois de Marchechaux. The two had at each other and after five reprises the Count of Turin was victorious, inflicting a wound on Prince Henri’s abdomen that the doctors of both parties deemed serious enough to put the Prince at a disadvantage and so the match was awarded to the Count of Turin. All of Europe was rather enthralled by this showdown that seemed like a throwback to centuries past. In Italy, however, the Count of Turin became a national hero instantly and was celebrated across the country for his victory and for standing up for Italian honor. When he returned to his homeland he was met in Turin by King Umberto I who said, “I want to be the first to congratulate you with all my heart on the example you set and the success you scored.”
Friday, September 13, 2013
In spite of this fact, the material shortages Italy suffered throughout the war meant that some Fiat 3000’s had to be pressed into service again when Italy entered the war. A small number saw service in the rugged terrain of southern Albania and northern Greece, however they would have proven less than useless up against even the earliest models of British tanks that Italy was facing in north Africa at the time. They last saw service in 1943 during the Allied invasion of Sicily when Italy was so hard-pressed that many antiquated weapons, or any weapons of any sort, were thrown into the line in the desperate fight to stop the invaders. In some ways, the defense of Sicily must have seemed reminiscent of the First World War with the Allies coming ashore to be greeted by Italian troops wearing outdated uniforms including Adrian-style steel helmets such as were worn in World War I and equipped with World War I vintage artillery in some cases as well as a few Fiat 3000 light tanks. It was a hopeless fight and by that time they were hopelessly outdated and outclassed, as everyone knew, but still, some respect should be given to the little Fiat 3000 tanks for putting in so many years of service to Italy.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
See also: The Perfume of Violets
The Prophecy of Padre Pio