Mar­coni an­niver­sary prompts mem­o­ries of Ital­ian con­nec­tions

Cape Breton Post - - COMMENT -

The 100th an­niver­sary of Guglielmo Mar­coni’s No­bel Prize in Physics has brought to mind mem­o­ries of the D-Day Dodgers in Si­cily and Italy in 1943 and 1944.

As a group of Cana­dian sig­nallers, we were given the job of re­pair­ing tele­phone sets in Taormina, Si­cily.

Along with a sergeant from our own sig­nals, we were joined by an Ital­ian gen­tle­man, a for­mer elec­tri­cian on Mar­coni’s boat, the Elet­tra. Un­for­tu­nately, I was un­able to con­verse with that gen­tle­man be­cause the of­fi­cious sergeant ad­vised us to “Be quiet and keep work­ing.”

The Ital­ians had suf­fered much from the Ger­man oc­cu­pa­tion; ev­ery­thing of value had been con­fis­cated. On one oc­ca­sion, while work­ing be­side the bat­tery gen­er­a­tor, I was ap­proached by a young girl car­ry­ing a doll. The doll had no clothes, and when I in­quired the rea­son for this she looked up at me with a shy smile and an­swered with: “ Tedesco por­tara touta via.” In English: “ The Ger­mans have taken them all” – a hu­mourous if usual re­ply in those days.

On an­other oc­ca­sion, I noted a large mound of ma­nure just out­side a house. I re­al­ized that some­thing of value had been hid­den some­thing in the pile. A few days later the ma­nure was shov­elled away and a wicker bas­ket was mys­te­ri­ously re­moved.

Mar­coni died in 1937. He was a re­mark­able man for his time and to­tally com­mit­ted to his re­search. His mother, Anne, was an Ir­ish woman who was to­tally de­voted to her son’s work. Al­though his fa­ther ini­tially had trou­ble, he later be­came sup­port­ive.

The Mar­coni fam­ily had two half-sis­ters, Degna and Elet­tra. The lat­ter was Mar­coni’s daugh­ter from his sec­ond wife, Cristina.

Mar­coni was well known in Cape Bre­ton for his vis­its to the wireless sta­tion at Table­head. He also had a house in Port Morien and liked to visit Mira and other ar­eas. An­gus Fer­gu­son Syd­ney

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