Salvo d’Acquisto

Salvo d’Acquisto was a carabiniere who, aged just 22, sacrificed his own life to save those of his comrades on September 23rd 1943 during World War II.

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Salvo joined the carabinieri in 1942. At Torre di Palidoro, a place on the Lazio coast, there occurred an explosion in a munitions dump causing the death of two German soldiers. The explosion was actually triggered by an improper storage of dynamite and was not a pre-meditated action. Field-Marshal Kesselring, using his powers as governor of Italy, remained convinced, however, that the explosion was caused by a resistance group and ordered an investigation which failed to find anyone responsible for the act. He therefore, rounded up twenty-two men who were marched near the Palidoro tower and ordered to dig a common grave in which they would be thrown after their execution. True to the word ‘decimation’, whereby, for every German soldier killed, ten Italians would pay with their lives, Kesselring was adamant about their fate.

However, the twenty-two year old Salvo d’Acquisto spoke, through an interpreter, with the commander in charge of carrying out the executions. Salvo declared that he was the only one responsible for the explosion and that the twenty-two men should be set free as they had nothing to do with the incident. This was clearly a white lie but what a lie to save the lives of twenty-two other innocent men!

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(Torre di Palidoro where Salvo d’Acquisto was executed by the Germans)

Those twenty-two were released and witnessed Salvo stand unflinchingly to attention to receive his executors’ bullets. “Long Live Italy”, he shouted and then collapsed lifeless on the soil to be thrown in the pit originally dug to accommodate twenty-two bodies.

The Germans were impressed by Salvo’s dignity: “your soldier was a hero. He remained impassive to the last.”

Since his death Salvo d’Acquisto has been all but apotheosised as a hero of self-sacrifice and a supreme example of altruism. Throughout Italy roads and piazzas have been named after him, carabinieri stations and barracks have been named in his honour and films made about his life.

Bagni di Lucca, too, celebrated Salvo d’Acquisto on 12th November 2005.

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A local sculptor, Gilberto Malerbi, cast a bronze statue of Salvo which can be seen to this day at the corner of the Contessa Casalini gardens.

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(The sculptor, Gilberto Malerbi at the unveiling of the statue)

A military parade, the largest of its kind ever held in Bagni to this day, including Carabinieri on horseback (the carabinieri are a branch of the military and not police, as in the UK), Bersaglieri with their capercaillie-feathered hats and a host of dignitaries from near and far, graced the day with the splendour of their uniforms. Speeches were made and bands played.

Here are some of my photographs from that memorable occasion: first the panoply of officers present:

Second, details of the statue and its unveiling:

 

It’s important to realise the role of carabinieri as peace-keepers in the troubled zones of the Middle East and, especially, to remember the terrible incident at Nasiriya Iraq on 12th November 2003 when 19 of them were killed when a truck load with ammunition drove into their barracks.

I’m quite sure that in the present climate of fear and uncertainty that has descended over Italy (as it has in the majority of European countries) we can be in no doubt that the carabinieri will help the country in ensuring that we can still lead our daily lives with increased protection from the terrorist threat.

 

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2 thoughts on “Salvo d’Acquisto

  1. Well what strikes me is with the recent crazy events we should in effect be raising memorials to all those brave people that we have learnt shielded their friends and companions from sure death what an honourable action. But it has to be stated that I cannot understand the actions of these terrorists all they are achieving is mass world grief with indiscriminate loss of life their random actions and targets destroy innocent lives. If they do not seem to like Western Civilization well no one imposes this on them they do not seem to appreciate history beauty nature this is blatant destruction by totally deranged people who need help in understanding the error of their ways it is frightening but we must not be afraid just pray chant meditate for world peace to erase the horror else we will all end up in a bad state we do not want war it destroys and does not resolve anything we have witnessed this in history. As for the Marseillaise wonderful music great anthem but as a comedy radio show pointed out great to sing out this revolutionary call to arms and bloodshed in front of a future heir to the UK throne! Furthermore this shoot to kill policy is wrong as I personally am
    Iucky to tell the tale when in Belfast Falls Road area at the driving wheel of our car when suddenly a machine gun was firmly pointed at my temple and the soldier started firing questions I was lucky that he was not trigger happy as it was shoot to kill policy I was more than happy to answer questions only after he removed that killing machine from my temple and I have nightmares galore thinking what if….not only but where is my compensation for this event? The blackest comedy show I ever heard in such bad taste the I am all right jack and I do not care syndrome was regarding and related to the benefit cuts silently many victims of this government crime have quietly self destructed reminscent of the bombers this was joked about ie the manner in which people have been humiliated with droves of questions regarding their condition thus making them worse and more ill as their condition was exacerbated this is utter cruelty as I too suffer from many ailments and unless you do it is often difficult even embarrassing to explain ones conditions and the recipient of this information cannot always really understand the condition as anyway they are not a medical personnel. It seems to me that we are living in very cruel times and that humanity and caring as promised from the cradle to the grave for UK Citizens is fast dissolving into vain vacuous promises noto pleasing at all.

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