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Vintage Photos Of Vesuvius Erruption, March 1944


Mount Vesuvius, located in the Gulf of Naples, Italy,  is best known for its eruption in 79 AD that led to the burying and destruction of the Roman city of Pompeii. Unfortunately, it goes active at least once in a century inevitably destroying everything in it’s reach.

Last eruption occured in March 1944. It destroyed the villages of San Sebastiano al Vesuvio, Massa di Somma, Ottaviano, and part of San Giorgio a Cremano. As always in such cases, there were outflows leading to small explosions. The major outbreak  took place on March 18, 1944.

Due to the fact that this volcano activity happened during the WWII, when the allied troops marched north through Italy, they also suffered from Vesuvius’ wrath. The tephra and hot ash damaged US aircraft forces (USAAf) stationing at Pompeii Airfield near Terzigno. Estimates ranged from 78 to 88 aircraft damaged or destroyed.

Dana Craig from the 486th Bombardment Squadron of the 340th Bombardment Group experienced the eruption of Mount Vesuvius first-hand:

“…On the day prior, Vesuvius was belching smoke. It was an overcast sky with the threat of rain. About midnight, I went out of my billet to answer the call of nature. While outside, in a mild drizzle, I was hit on the head by what I thought was a small rock. Suspecting some sort of joke, I went inside for a flashlight. When I returned, the light revealed a layer of damp cinders on the ground. We knew at that time that Vesuvius was erupting. We began to feel the earth shake as though a bomb had gone off. After each quake, a few minutes would pass before the debris blown out of the crater would start to hit the ground. About daylight, the rear of our building started to cave in. We then began to see the larger rocks coming down. By this time everyone was wearing his steel helmet and heavy sheepskin jacket for protection from the falling material. I can’t recall ever having breakfast that morning. It wasn’t very long before we were loaded into trucks and evacuated to Naples.”

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