Responses of the Anglo-American military authorities to the eruption of Vesuvius, March 1944

Chester, David K ORCID: 0000-0001-8722-360X, Duncan, Angus M ORCID: 0000-0003-3897-3329, Wetton, Philip and Wetton, Roswitha
(2007) Responses of the Anglo-American military authorities to the eruption of Vesuvius, March 1944. JOURNAL OF HISTORICAL GEOGRAPHY, 33 (1). pp. 168-196.

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Vesuvius, which last erupted in 1944, is one of the world's most perilous volcanoes and around 600,000 people live on its flanks. In March 1944 the Anglo-American Allies had still to complete their conquest of southern Italy from the Axis forces and, although in control of Naples and the region of Vesuvius, civil administration had only recently been established. Economically the region was severely depressed and much of its population was destitute. Notwithstanding these difficulties, a fine volcanological description of the March 1944 eruption was produced by Professor Giuseppe Imbò, Director of the Reale Osservatorio Vesuviana. In contrast, although some valuable accounts were published at the time and subsequently, the management of the emergency by members of the Allied Control Commission was neither comprehensively described nor evaluated. In this paper a day-by-day - at critical stages an hour-by-hour - chronology of the effects of the 1944 eruption on the local population and the role of the military authorities in responding to it, is presented, based primarily on archival research, together with written and oral testimony from British and American personnel directly involved. Material has also been compiled from newsreel films and previously unused, in some cases unpublished, archival photography. Meteorological data-bases have been interrogated to provide information on the effects of weather conditions on plume directions and tephra deposition. Finally, using all these sources plus information collected from local authorities (comuni) in the areas affected by the eruption, we describe and discuss recovery and reconstruction following the eruption and the dangers faced by the population today. We conclude that, despite all the problems of wartime, management of the emergency by the Allied Control Commission was both impressive at the time and holds important lessons about the manner in which eruptions may be handled in the future. © 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: ## TULIP Type: Articles/Papers (Journal) ##
Uncontrolled Keywords: Italy, Vesuvius, 1944 eruption, hazards, Second World War
Subjects: ?? GB ??
Divisions: Faculty of Science and Engineering > School of Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 31 May 2012 16:24
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2022 07:49
DOI: 10.1016/j.jhg.2006.02.001
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