Touraine - from then until now!

This blog is an attempt to show some of the vast history of Man's prescence in the Southern Touraine.... from first footfall to the present....
especially in and around le Grand Pressigny area.... with special emphasis on life at and around le Moulin de la Forge.
There will also be occasional entries about time before man was here and when the area was at the bottom of a warm, shallow sea...



Sunday, 29 November 2015

A great patriot, or the man who divided his country?

The article that first alerted me to the date of our scrap of newsprint mentioned Greece, the Hellenes, the Dardanelles. A name - Venizelos.



And an image came into my head. A picture of a grave on the Greek island of Crete, at Moni Profitis Elias, high on a hillside shaded by pines, overlooking the Akrotiri peninsula and the city of Chania. The view from the grave site is breathtaking and every visitor must have taken this photograph, myself included.

The graves of Elevtherios and Sofokles Venizelos, from Cplakidas photo library
The article describes Elevtherios Venizelos as the former President of the royal council, but he was that more than once. The name of the current premier, Gounaris, clinched it. This fragment could only have been printed in late March or very early April 1915.
The Balkan Peninsula between 1878 and 1914, from Tim's wonderful old Atlas of World History

At the beginning of the first world war, the people of Greece were united behind their king, Constantine I, and his President of Council, Elevtherios Venizelos. They had just emerged war-weary but victorious from the Balkan Wars against Bulgaria. This victory had doubled the territory of a nation that did not exist as such eighty years earlier. Greece and Bulgaria both remained neutral at the outbreak of war, even though a murder in Serbia, which shared frontiers with both countries, was the trigger for the war. Serbia, like Greece and Russia, is an Orthodox country and the natural sympathies of most Greeks lay with the Serbs. Constantine, however, grandson of a Danish princeling and of Hapsburg blood, was Kaiser Willhelm's brother-in-law.

Constantine the victorious. The caption calls him Constantine 12th, in the Byzantine imperial line



Elevtherios Venizelos - in retirement
By the end of the war, Constantine had been forced to abdicate in favour of his son, Alexander, and a Greek army of 300,000 was fighting German and Austrian forces in Macedonia alongside troops from France, Russia and Britain. Venizelos was again President of the Royal council, but there were deep divisions in Greece between Royalists and Venizelists, those who wanted the status quo and those who favoured a Greater Greece.  Greeks had raised their hands against Greeks, blood had been shed, and there was more, much more, to come.

An outline of the extraordinary period in Greek history between 1914 and 1918 can be found here. All I can attempt to do here is concentrate on the few weeks during which our newspaper was published.

In March 1915 "the enterprise of the Dardanelles", as Venizelos called it, was at its height, if such it may be called, and the Greek government had dithered about providing any support whatsoever to either side, refusing the warships of the Great Powers coaling facilities.

Venizelos resigned as president of the council of King Constantine of Greece on 6th March 1915 over a proposal under the benign supervision of the Great Powers, and by Sir Edward Grey and the British government in particular, for Bulgaria and Greece to come out of neutrality simultaneously and attack the Ottoman forces. The inducement to be offered to Bulgaria was a port, Kavalla, on the Aegean Sea (see the map). The land, referred to in the article as "the cazas of Sarichabon, Cavalla and Drama" was part of Greece, recently acquired the hard way in the latest of a series of bruising wars with Bulgaria. "The Bulgarian threat" (le péril Bulgare) was still of great concern in Greece.

Greece, in return for her sacrifice, was to be granted a much larger area, on the mainland of Asia Minor, then part of the Ottoman Empire, longer ago part of the Byzantine empire, in the present day the western half of Turkey.  Many of the inhabitants of this area (what? Oh yes, them) were Greek-speaking, and the proposals revealed in an article in le Matin casually referred to managed mass relocation as though people could be taken out of their boxes and moved around and swapped like toy soldiers.

W. Holt-Wright, writing in the Daily Express of 29th March 1915, was one of few British journalists to take Venizelos seriously. He says:
M. Venizelos is the idol of Greece; he has steered his country to victory in two successive wars, and he, more than any man, has brought about a spirit of Greek revival, and has inspired his countrymen to espouse the great cause of the liberation of the 4,000,000 Greeks who still remain the pitiful vassals of the Turk....
M. Venizelos’ plan was clean-cut, comparatively simple, and extraordinarily bold. In effect, he said, the Great Powers are much too busy to interfere; let the Balkan States, therefore, forget their recent quarrels, revive the shattered League, which must now include Roumania, hurl the Turks from Asia Minor, and repatriate their various lost tribes. The Allies, he assured the Greeks, must inevitably win, and when the war was over, apart from the fact that possession was nine points of the law, they would be too sensible of the great help the Balkan States had afforded them to rob them of the fruits of victory.
Nothing, of course, except some possible difficulties in the case of Italy, could have been more welcome to the Allies, and the Greeks were buoyed up with hope and a real and splendid endeavour. Roumania might raise objections, but M. Venizelos was quite certain that an arrangement could be made with her. She also had people — under the heel of Hungary — to be freed.
So far. so good. It was on the question of the bargain with Bulgaria that M. Venizelos nominally fell. He proposed to set a sprat to catch a whale  — that is, he was prepared to cede Bulgaria a small portion of Grecian territory in return for a much larger tract of territory in Asia Minor when the resuscitated Balkan League should have wrested it from the Turk.
From the point of plain common sense it is hard to see where M. Venizelos erred in his calculations and designs. He proposed, reluctantly of course, to surrender the Kavalla district, which has an extent of 2,000 square kilometres and a population of 30,000, but in return Greece was to receive in Asia Minor territory amounting to 125,000 square kilometres, the inhabitants of which -- mostly Greeks — number nearly a million. Thus, in tho event of victory, M. Venizelos would have nearly doubled the present size of Greece, and would have added nearly 20 per cent to the present population.
It was a great dream and a bold scheme and there were unquestionably "conversations” with both Roumania and Bulgaria...
At the promptings of King Constantine, the military declared that the army had not yet recovered from the past two wars. M. Venizelos made answer that an expeditionary force of 50,000 men would be sufficient to secure his purpose and win the goodwill of the Allies.

He also proudly pointed to the fact that during the recent Balkan wars 40,000 Greeks, practically an army corps, had alone come over from the United States — where there are 500,000 of them — and had not merely paid all their expenses for the honour of fighting for Greece, but had actually brought all their savings to pay into the Greek Treasury to aid the success of the campaign.

Next, the Greek financiers were brought to bear on M. Venizelos’ venture. The monetary burden of the campaign, they said, would be more than Greece could support. To all intents and purposes M. Venizelos retorted, “ Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” [nothing changes much here, does it?]
The strictly private and confidential “conversations” with Roumania and Bulgaria went on, and, at the last, there is no doubt that M. Venizelos thought the way was clear for war. Then King Constantine hurled his neutral bombshell. He would never consent to cede an inch of Greek territory, ho said, no matter what was to be got in return; and he declared that he had never allowed M. Venizelos to suppose that he could conduct any negotiations upon such lines.
Deeply offended by the perceived insult,Venizelos resigned, vowing to give up politics forever, but not before publishing the whole thing in the Patris newspaper. The proposal (somewhat selectively) and a slagging by the ultra-conservative toady Gounaris, are the subject of this article.

For once, I have actually located the entire article in the pages of Le Petit Journal at la Bibliothèque Nationale de France. In the library copy, which is a Paris edition, rather than our provincial one, it was published on 3rd April rather than 4th.

Other Greek-speaking enclaves around the Mediterranean, such as Corfu, Symi and the Dodecanese, along with Trieste and Trentino, were at this time being bundled up, successfully in this case, as an inducement to Italy to join the war on the Great Powers' side. The story next to the Venizelos article, represented on our fragment only by a list of words, proved to have the title "L'accord de l'Italie avec la Serbie et la Russie".

Here is an updated reconstruction of the main section of the clipping.
And here is the whole article, with an English translation.




And Venizelos? He admired the British and their Parliamentary system. Who was he? A natural politician, born into a relatively humble (i.e. middle class) family in Crete. He is another man who could be called a bundle of energy, a man of massive highs and lows. He rose to the top in the Greek parliament simply by being better than anyone else.

The elder statesman
Elevtherios Venezelos is still beloved in his native island. There are daily coach outings to his birthplace in Mournies and to his grave.

Any suggestion of that he might have lived with a bipolar condition may be considered alongside the fact that he was a Cretan. I can only refer you to the works of his near contemporary and great admirer, Nikos Kazantzakis, and particularly Zorba the Greek.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Scratches on the wall

The extraordinarily clear light of autumn enabled me to take a few photos of the marks in the doorway of one of our little outbuildings, the one we use as a toolshed. There is some writing there, and pictures.

The text and figures are scored deeply into the stone. I am publishing this post unfinished as an appeal to anyone who can for help in interpreting this. It appears to date from the second world war, when several resistance groups operated in this area. Jean Rousellot filmed them for his L'histoire de chez nous 1940 - 1945.  Does this have something to do with them?,

To someone more familiar with French handwriting and script styles the text may be perfectly clear.  To me, the only unambiguous phrase is the date le 5 juin 1944. Even this is imperfect - it could be le 15 or le 25 juin (see photo 2). There seems to be another date and an illegible name: le 10 nove de chez M. de???elle (photo 7). Could this be "Charcellay"? Or Décharte? We will ask....

There are two drawings. One is just a head, in profile, with a high bulging forehead, a large beaky nose and a big chin, a line across the top of the skull may represent a severe (military) haircut. He can be seen clearly in the first photograph, and again in 3,4 and 7. Next to it a natural (?) shape in the stone reflects the drawing.

The second, also in profile, shows a man smoking a clay pipe, again with a large beaky nose and chin, but with spiky hair sticking out from his pate. He appears on photo 5, and again on photo 2 which seems to indicate long legs. In photo 6 his pipe can be seen, along with the smoke rising from it. The figure was drawn earlier than the date, which is carved across it.

Tim suggests a child's hand for the human images, but I disagree. I think both images are of the same person, but they were drawn by different people. Who had a large beaky nose and chin? General de Gaulle, the exiled leader of the French resistance.


Here are the photos:


Photo 1.
les c?hmi? ? cochons?  de chez M. ...


Photo 2.
  Le ? Avril // 1944  le x5 juin

Photo 3.  ?
le 10 nove(mbre?)  de ?chez M? de ??ellay?? see also photo 7
les cochons?



Photo 4.
les c?h?
Photo 5.
R?e??bie
le ? ?avril? 1944 le 5 juin

Photo 6. 
R (or P) ??trie or ??bie

Photo 7.
le 10 nove de chez M. ace  .... cell(?ay?)



Monday, 13 July 2015

How La Touraine carried thousands of passengers to New York before she was launched

Our ocean liner from our newspaper cutting, La Touraine, followed as eventful a career as any storyteller could wish for. She was the "just William" of the seas - wherever she went, unusual and interestin' things just sort of happened.

At the Paris Exposition Universelle (World's Fair) of 1889, the newly constructed Eiffel Tower was one of the top attractions. The Exposition was a showcase of France's manufacturing industries and of her place in the world. La Compagnie Générale Transatlantique, owners of La Touraine, was one of the French manufacturing and service companies with its own pavilion, on the bank of the Seine at the foot of the Eiffel Tower.

Extract from the map of the 1889 Exposition Universelle. The CGT panorama is the circular building top right

The official guide to the exhibition, as quoted by "Joconde", the portal of the museums of France, describes the edifice thus:
"Higher up, at the level of the avenue de La Bourdonnais, we find the Panorama of the Compagnie Transatlantique. It is a polygonal construction, raised on piles, the exterior of which is decorated with immense maps representing all the countries of the world linked to the various French ports by the Company's liners.
Sweet memories
"On entry, you find yourself on the staircase of a great steamer, whose two principal decks you visit in sequence. It is the exact reproduction, life size, of the steamship la Touraine which is under construction. Eleven dioramas, the work of Messieurs Poilpot, Hoffbauer, Montenard and Motte, display to you the luxurious accommodation of a great Transatlantic liner, the salons, the smoking room, the passenger cabins. To one side are reproduced several fascinating scenes: the arrival of a steamer in New York, views of the principal ports used by the Compagnie Transatlantique, their immense dockyards.

Figure 3 - La Nature, 1889 - cross-section through the Panorama


"You finally come out on the bridge of the ship, and there, the illusion is such that, almost by the movement, that you believe youself to be out at sea. In the distance the port of Le Havre can be seen and the nearby cliffs beaten by the waves. If you look around, you can see the complete superstructure of a ship with her masts and all their ropes; and all of it is extended and finished so well on painted canvases that you cannot truly say where the actual ship on which you are walking ends and where the artist's work finishes. All around, the fleet of the Compagnie Transatlantique appears in ranks, formed by steamers of all tonnages, from the enormous liners of the New York line to the more modest vessels of the Algeria lines."
Original poster, recently changed hands for over €3,000

The Panorama is described in splendidly florid detail detail in "L'Exposition Universelle de 1889" by Louis Rousselet (published in 1890).
"You have no sooner entered the Champ de Mars panorama, than you find yourself transported right to the heart of a ship. Dark, narrow corridors lit to left and right by portholes represent, with a good degree of fidelity, the outlines of a boat. An odour of pitch, suffusing pretty well everywhere, finishes off the local colour, I had better say… local aroma. You pass through travellers’ cabins, outfitted in great luxury. A little staircase comes in sight. You climb it and suddenly you are transported to the bridge of an immense liner, la Touraine, such as she will be in days to come. In reality, la Touraine rests still on the stocks in the construction yard. This little subterfuge, by placing the spectator on a liner which does not yet exist, has the advantage of letting you see the entire existing fleet.
"On this bridge, tackle is hanging, ropes unroll on the floor, the steersman turns the wheel, the compass needle trembles in the binnacle, the captain, leaning on the railing, gives the last orders. The ship is ready to depart. Foredeck passengers, after deck passengers, crowd on the gangplanks, glancing one last time at the dry land of France, which, in a few minutes’ time, will be slipping little by little into the distance and will sink suddenly below the sea’s horizon. All along the davits of the Touraine the sea slaps, shimmers, gleams. Sailing yachts, to see her closer, veer and tack in her stream, with a swirling as of great sea birds with white wings. Light skiffs, carrying overdue passengers, turn back towards the port, spotted with smoke, the bow white with foam, leaving behind them a deep wake, whose undulations ruffle the surface of the waters.
"We also, interested visitor, we must leave. An impression, at least, has been given to us. And what a departure! The sun’s rays sparkle out of sight, drowning in their gilded waves the immense horizon of the mouth of the Seine, which acts as the roadstead of le Havre whose white houses rise in rows on the flanks of the hillside. Down there, the abrupt spine of the point of La Hève; here, the hillsides slipping past which border the Seine, on this side, the green, dark slopes of Ronfleur and Trouville, on the other, the infinite horizon hiding the English coast. In this giant picture frame, the sea calm, peaceful, the sea in multiple tones, and on it, proud of their strength and majesty, all the ships of the Company, crowing with joy, present for the departure of their youngest sister. It is la Gascogne, la Champagne, la Normandie, it is la Bretagne. In the luminous air which surrounds them, one can see the specific details which give them their own individuality. Those who know them cannot mistake them and give one the name of another. 
Figure 1 - La Nature, 1889 - View towards the bow. Watch out for crowing ships
"The tour of the bridge completed, you go back down to the between-decks. A new spectacle waits for us there. In place of the cabins aligned the length of her sides, there are dioramas, that is to say huge paintings on vast canvases and which, instead of being circular like those of the panorama, are laid out on a vertical plan. The lighting, cunningly placed, varies the general and the local tones in such a way as to produce, be it on several points, be it on the entire picture, all possible natural or artificial luminous effects. 
"The Transatlantic Company’s dioramas each represent a distinct part of the ship: the saloon, the dining room, the smoking room, cabins of the different classes, boarding, etc. etc. Others show different ports more particularly frequented by the liners of the Company. Here is Marseilles with its old city walls, their heights reddened by the light of the setting sun, darkened at the foot by the waves of the Mediterranean. There is Algiers with its ranks of white houses, exploding in the dark greenery of exotic plants. Here is New York with the grandiose, luminous panorama of her harbour."
Figure 2 - La Nature, 1889 - View towards the stern

The Exposition Universelle attracted visitors in their millions, from Parisian factory workers and shop girls to official visitors from all over the world. The lifelike interior of the Panorama gave the impression of rubbing shoulders with the nobs in First Class. It proved so popular that the CGT revived and revised it for the 1900 Exposition Universelle, featuring all their ships, including La Touraine (12,000 bhp!) on a Mediterranean voyage.

This exhibit, called the Maréorama, intrigued Finnish-American Professor of Media Studies Erkki Huhtamo at the beginning of the 21st Century to such an extent that he lectured on the subject extensively under the headline "Mareorama Resurrected". His story of how he became interested in the Maréorama echoes our own. The spirit of La Touraine lives on.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

A "Swiss Army" flint... the ultimate Stone Age multi-tool.

Pauline spotted this....

The wonders of technology allow both sides to be seen at once,
... whilst looking along the berm...
our long barrow of earth from the creation of the fosse septiques and their associated filter beds.
It is therefore, totally out of context!

But the Chairman of the AMGP{#} identified it as a multi-use flint tool...

a blade...

a flat scraper [grattoir]...

a borer [perçoir]...

a rounded end scraper...

and an incurved section.

This last was apparently likely to have been used for scraping bark from branches and meat from small bones.....
Willow for headache....
meat from tendons to leave clean sinew for breaking apart by hammering....

But put together, this is a very handy thing for a mobile hunter to have with them as part of a kit...
and for the Stone Age kitchen area and craft room...
I am using this terminology quite deliberately...
they were no different from us in those respects.
Craft areas created everything from clothes to tools...
and traded them...
the original Amazon.com.

In the kitchen, anything that could be used in different ways, would have been a boon...
no going to a "drawer full of gadgets" [ie.: pile of favourite flints]...
this one would do most of what was needed.

For the hunter, out on an expedition, it would have been used as I use my trusty Swiss Army knife...
now with a wonderful ash handgrip...
carved and finished by me...
using...
no, not flint... just modern knives, files and sanders.
But I'll bet I could have done the very same with flint on the ash wood!

My Swiss Army knife... with matching blades open...
or four out of the five above!


To me this is a wonderful indicator of Man's ingenuity...
as a species we have continually strived to do better...
our inventiveness is inbred!!

Yes... this is the original Swiss Army knife...
and even Ötzi had something similar!
Even if he was Italian...
now there's a quandary for the Swiss...
your army's favourite tool was found....
in the possession of someone the from other side of the border!!



[#] Les Amis de la Musée du Grand Pressigny

Sunday, 26 April 2015

The first aircraft to go to war

A Taube throws some bombs ...

The Etrich Taube was the first warplane used to drop a live bomb on real people. On 1 November 1911, an Italian pilot, Giulio Gavotti, dropped three 1.5kg grenades on the oasis of Ain Zara during the war between Italy and the Ottoman empire, fought in Libya. That is only eight years after the Wright brothers and their exploits at Kitty Hawk. Those smart Wright boys designed a plane for the US Army in 1909 but it was never used in war. Gavotti's letters to his father survived, to be read in a rather cod Italian accent on the BBC World Service (note: in the BBC's picture, Gavotti is not flying a Taube).

A Taube takes off from a Libyan airfield - card postmarked 31/12/1911
The Taube, also designed in 1909, by Austrian aviator/engineer Igo Etrich and his partner Franz Wels, first flew in 1910. Much technical detail can be found in Wikipedia here. A full technical review was printed in Flight magazine in February 1915, here.

Its organic design could so easily have consigned the Taube to that group of nutty aircraft seen destroying themselves in early films - flapping wings that shook the plane apart, multiple wing surfaces like some kind of flying layer cake that collapsed under their own weight, men with wings strapped to themselves and jumping off high buildings with inevitable results, Icarus (except for the films) - but the Taube worked.

At the heart of the design was the fruit of zanonia macrocarpa (syn.[or ?close relative?] alsomitra macrocarpa), the javanese cucumber. This climbing jungle vine is a member of the pumpkin family (not a palm, as Flight magazine would have it). It produces football-sized gourd-like fruit, suspended high above the forest floor. Its many seeds bear a pair of jelly-like wings, and drop from the bottom of the fruit one at a time.

Alsomitra macrocarpa seed - photograph taken in Kebun Raya, Bogor, Indonesia, by Scott Zona from Miami, Fl
The seed glides away, eventually spiralling gently to the ground, sometimes many hundreds of metres from the parent plant.
Opening fruit (some 30cm in diameter) (lower left), flowers (lower right), winged seed (centre), twining stem with foliage (top) - Not to same scale. 
after "Meyers großes Konversationslexikon", 6.Auflage; Bd.23; Jahressupplement 1910-1911, S.976

Scott Zona writes (with my addition of bold face for any reader who is not an aeronautical engineer):
A bit of flowery prose from an essay that I wrote in 2001 on wind-dispersed seeds & fruits: "Every now and then, field botanists are treated to transcendental moments when the light is golden, the air is fresh, interesting plants are at hand, and the hardships of field work just melt away. During those times, scientific insights arrive with astonishing clarity and grace.
One such moment for me came on a sunny afternoon in the Kebun Raya Botanic Garden, in Bogor, Indonesia, some years ago. On that memorable day, I was transfixed as I watched dozens of winged seeds of Alsomitra macrocarpa (Cucurbitaceae, the squash family) glide to the ground in broad, lazy spirals. The seeds spilled out from a fruit hanging on the liana climbing on one of the enormous old trees in the garden.
All the principles of aerodynamics as they relate to seed dispersal were manifest in that one lovely moment. "The gliding seeds of Alsomitra exhibit two kinds of motion: The forward gliding motion, which takes the seed on a helical, downward path, and phugoid oscillations, in which the gliding seed gains lift, stalls, drops briefly until it accelerates enough to generate lift, starting the process over again.
Phugoid oscillations are well known to aviation engineers and model aeroplane fliers, because they can destabilize mechanized flight, but in the seeds of Alsomitra, phugoid oscillations add a graceful rhythm to the descent, and more importantly, slow the descent of the seeds giving them more time aloft. Time aloft is the sine qua non of successful dispersal by wind."
A remarkable film of Alsomitra macrocarpa seeds taking to the air was produced for BBC Earth in 2009.

The Taube's curved wing surfaces mimicked this seed precisely, so that if the Taube lost power, it would continue to move forward, and eventually glide to the ground. The design made it somewhat of a pig to steer, but flying in a straight line was a doddle. The fly-glide technique enabled Gino Linnekogel and Suvelick Johannisthal to achieve a two-man endurance record for flying a Taube of 4 hours and 35 minutes over Germany in 1911. This made flights from Germany as far as London possible, if precarious.

Aerial warfare, or hand to hand fighting
"German Taube in battle with hostile pilots Deutsche Taube im Kampf mit feindlichen Fliegern"
***UPDATE***
Ascent and descent were controlled, not with flaps and ailerons, but by flexing the surface of the wing by means of cords.
I suppose NASA thinks this (courtesy of BBC News) is new?
***END UPDATE***
The pilot single handed could prime grenades and chuck them out of the cockpit, though with his hands full this left him unable to defend himself.Two-seater and even four-seater models were built.


"Fruitless bombardment of a German Taube" Erfolglose Beschiessung einer deutschen Taube
Etrich could not obtain a German patent for the Taube, as his work was based on that of the German botanist Dr Friedrich Ahlborn who published an analysis of the aerodynamics of the seeds in 1903, so in Germany many more versions were constructed, notably by Rumpler. The most likely version used for the raid on Gerardmer was a two-man Rumpler Taube. There was no such thing as an anti-aircraft gun and, on the ground, villagers fired at the Taubes with shotguns and pistols. Ground fire was not particularly effective.

"A Strange Santa Claus - Voilà le Taube!" - the passage of a hostile aircraft over a town in northern France

The facsimile sketch from the front by C.J. Payne (above) appeared in The Graphic on January 2, 1915.
The editor writes:
the appearance of a hostile aeroplane is the signal for a general fusillade, the returning bullets causing, as a rule, more damage than the bombs dropped by the Taube, so that it is wise to bolt for cover as soon as the firing commences. On the occasion witnessed by our artist, a gallant citizen joined in the fusillade with his revolver, and not until he was presented with numerous bills for broken windows and lamps could he be convinced that his efforts had not been the means of disabling the enemy.
Technology quickly superseded the originality of the Taube design - the pilot was unable to fire through the propeller, and this facility was developed only for newer, faster planes.

By 1916 they were restricted to actions over civilian areas - propaganda leafleting, for example, and "irritation" bombing attacks like this one.
A peaceful view of Gerardmer, the target of the Taube, 1916
The Owls Head Transportation Museum, Maine, USA, has a working replica of a Taube, which can be seen in operation here...


 ... and there is even a real one, in the Vienna Technical Museum.

In 1911, Gavotti's surgical strike was described in Italian newspapers as craftsmanship. He could select and pinpoint his targets like a master. The same claim is made for today's precision bombing by pilotless drones.

But anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighters forced the bombers higher, so that fliers became unable to visualise what they were doing to people on the ground. That way lay the carpet bombing of Coventry, the firestorm over Dresden, the atom bombs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Gavotti cannot have guessed what horrors would follow his action.