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Ciao.

I'm Michelle. Thanks for visiting The Istrian Diary. I hope you enjoy my father's story.

3 December 1942 - Il Pallone / The Balloon

3 December 1942 - Il Pallone / The Balloon

 Operation Outward. By The National Archives UK, OGL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39394854

Operation Outward. By The National Archives UK, OGL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39394854

Rovigno 3 dicembre 1942

Ieri mattina, arrivato a scuola, vidi un folto gruppo di ragazzi che guardavano il cielo col naso in aria. Guardai, anch’io, e scorsi sopra (in) il monte Mulini un pallone che ondeggiava. Aquesti era attaccata una corda, secondo quanto dicevano gli altri, perché io non la vedevo. Ma lo strano di quell’aerostato era che non aveva navicella. Questo lo notai solo io, poiché gli altri erano intenti a commentare la strana apparizione.

Mentre entravamo in classe tutti pensavamo al pallone. Quando suonò l’intervallo, Buttiri mi disse che aveva vista scendere dal cielo un paracadute. Guardai anch’io e vidi una semisfera bianca accanto ad un ulivo. Altro non potei vedere, poiché l’intervallo era terminato. Durante il riposo gli alunni della seconda ci dissero che quello noi credevamo fosse un paracadute era il pallone di prima. 

Finita la scuola corremmo alla ricerca dal pallone. Cercammo di qui, cercammo di la . . . ma nemmeno una sua traccia. Ritornammo a casa con un palmo di naso. 

Rovigno 3 December 1942

Yesterday morning I arrived at school, and saw a dense groups of boys who were gazing at the sky with their noses in the air. I also watched, and glimpsed over Monte Mulini a swaying balloon. I didn’t see it, but according to the others, there was a rope attached to it.  But the strange thing about the balloon was it had no gondola. Only I noticed this, since the others were intently commenting on the strange apparition.  

While we went to class we all thought about the balloon. When recess rang, Buttiri told me that he had seen a parachute fall from the sky. I looked too and saw a white hemisphere next to an olive tree. I could not see anything else, as the break ended. During the rest period, the second-year students told us that what we believed was a parachute was the first balloon. 

School ended; we ran in search of the hot air balloon. We searched here, we searched there . . . but not even a trace of it.  We returned home sorely disappointed. 


When translating Italian, I've learned that looking up the definition of a single word often won't reveal the true meaning of a phrase. Take "palmo di naso." It means exactly what it sounds like, “palm to nose.” But when translated as a complete phrase, it means "sorely disappointed." (Typically written as "restare con un palmo di naso.")

Then I realized it: Franco wrote a phrase in 1942, in Italian, for a gesture we now call a “facepalm" and which can be found all over the internet in memes and emojis!  


Questa mattina ho saputo da mia mamma che i palloni erano due, ed erano inglesi. Essi avevano una corda con attaccato un bidone pieno di liquido incendiario. Questi, appena il pallone si fosse colato a terra, avrebbe determinato un incendio. È cosi che gl’Inglesi cercano di abbassare il morale del nostro popolo che è deciso a vincere, e a ogni costo vincerà!

This morning I learned from my mamma that there were two hot air balloons yesterday; they were English. They had a rope attached to a tank full of incendiary fluid. As soon as the balloon poured these on the ground, it would have caused a fire. This is how the English try to sink the morale of our people who are determined to win, and will win at any cost!

SketchBalloon.jpg

While researching this entry in the diary, there was only a single brief mention of incendiary balloons landing in Italy. For the most part, this program was largely unsuccessful, with only a few significant power outages (the balloons were either fire bombs or trailed metal wires, to short out power lines in Germany). I could find no documentation in English or Italian of a balloon bomb landing in Rovigno or Istria.

6 December 1942 - Giorno di San Nicolò / Saint Nicholas Day

6 December 1942 - Giorno di San Nicolò / Saint Nicholas Day

1 December 1942 - Giorno di Comunione / Communion Day

1 December 1942 - Giorno di Comunione / Communion Day