On this day: the invasion of Albania

Italy’s rapidly successful invasion of Albania, run by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, began on the 7th of April, 1939. The Albanian king, Zog I, was forced into exile, and the entire operation was complete only five days later, on the 12th.
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Albania was made part of the Italian Empire, with its sea ports being considered important to the regime.
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On this day: the birth of a British Olympian

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Walter Tysall X

British Olympic gymnast Walter Tysall was born in Birmingham on the 3rd of April, 1880.

At the age of twenty-eight Tysall competed in the individual all around competition at the 1908 London Olympic Games. He won the silver medal, with Italian Alberto Braglia winning gold and French gymnast Louis Ségura taking bronze.

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Italian gold medallist Alberto Braglia

Though the British women’s gymnasts would go on to reach the Olympic podium a few years later, Tysall’s silver was the only medal won by a British male gymnast until 2008.

Tysall died in Ashton-on-Ribble in 1955.

On this day…

Mount Vesuvius in Italy erupted in March, 1944, destroying a number of villages.

North American soldiers were in the area at the time, fighting in the Second World War.

The original caption of the picture reads:

Crew member cleaning the ashes and cinders off the wing of a North American B-25 of the 340th Bomb Group. This was caused by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius on 23 March 1944.

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Mt Vesuvius in 1944

Mount Vesuvius, a volcano on the Gulf of Naples in Italy, had one of its more destructive eruptions in March 1944.

The eruption destroyed the villages of San Sebastiano al Vesuvio, Massa di Somma and Ottaviano. Part of San Giorgio a Cremano was also destroyed.

John Reinhardt, serving in the US Army Air Forces in the Second World War, took this photograph.

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On this day: a dictator and his pet

Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini photographed with his pet lion cub, Ras on the 16th of February, 1924. He would run Italy for another twenty-one years before being captured and executed alongside his mistress Clara Petacci. His wife was elsewhere at the time.

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Nazism in the United States

American Nazis stand in front of a banner of George Washington at New York’s Madison Square Garden in 1939. It is believed 22 000 people attended the event.

Prior to Pearl Harbor there was some support for Hitler in the United States, and even movies imported from Britain had anti-Nazi scenes edited out of them before their US release. Germany and Italy, both fascist countries at the time, made strong attempts to set up their own political branches with German and Italian Americans.

Of course, this changed totally when America was drawn into the Second World War halfway through, and anti-German propaganda movies became all the rage.

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