Swiss Air Combat in World War 2

The revealing story of Switzerland’s military operations to defend its airspace from Axis and Allied aircraft during World War Two

Blotted with deathly-black balkenkreuz wing insignia denoting them as war machines of the German Luftwaffe, droves of bulky Bf-110 twin-engined Messerschmitt fighters, far above the tree-topped mountains and valleys of the Jura Canton, droned menacingly in circles. A flock of more nimble craft whizzed in to engage them; Bf-109E Messerschmitts, except these Bf-109s were emblazoned with an insignia seldom depicted in the annals of modern warfare, another cross painted the white of peace yet over the red of warning; these were Swiss fighters defending their homeland. The blaze of tracer round quickly filled the sky as German hardware was pitted against each other. 

As is well known, the Swiss stayed out of the Second World War. So, what was its airforce doing getting into dogfights with the Nazis, and even later the Allies? This is the little known story of Switzerland’s fight to defend its territory during ‘The War’. 

To Have Peace, One Must Prepare for War

Since the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1815, Switzerland, that diminutive nation bristling with jagged mountain peaks to deter potential enemies, has stood as a salient of peace when war has raged all around. In 1939, hostilities in Europe recommenced as the German Reich set forth once more in its recurrent quest to assert hegemony over its neighbours.

The unbridled military success of the Nazi Third Reich in the early stages of WW2 is well-told of course; nation after nation crumbled under the might of their hammer blows. Hitler and his generals felt that their southern neighbour could maintain their time-honoured neutrality, however, and the Swiss were more than happy to stay out of the epic clash of arms raging around them. 

The dynamic between the two states was a wary one. On one hand, there was an ideological incentive to absorb the Swiss into the burgeoning Nazi empire as it included German speaking people who Hitler described as “a misbegotten branch of our Volk.” Yet Switzerland’s position was optimally balanced; it was sufficiently tough to be conquerable only with some difficulty whilst having insufficient natural resources to make it tempting to try. Also, Switzerland was a valuable wartime trading partner of the Third Reich’s, buying up its plundered gold to fuel the Nazi war-engine.

Switzerland perceived its position akin to that of a hedgehog known to a voracious but well-fed wolf. Its strategic aim was straightforward enough; stay off the German military’s radar whilst maintaining cordial enough relations to keep the supply of natural resources flowing for which it was heavily reliant. For its military, this meant ensuring that it wouldn’t be easy prey if ever the wolf came sniffing around. No matter how passive any country’s army may be, its most fundamental mission is to maintain its territorial integrity, and this the Swiss vigorously carried out for the next six years of war.

Along with all the major European powers, Switzerland established its airforce during WW1. As the storm clouds gathered again in the 1930s the Swiss saw it prudent to develop an effective air-defence force of modern combat planes plus anti air flak units. To that end, modern Morane-Saulnier D‐3800 fighters were procured (a French aircraft built under licence in Switzerland). The latest Messerschmitt Bf-109E was also acquired – an embarrassing sale by the fledgling Nazi Germany in view of later events. By early 1940, the Swiss Luftwaffe was almost 200 aircraft strong including 60-odd Bf-109s and over 30 of the less mechanically sound D-3800s. This against the 3000 aircraft of the German Luftwaffe, it would be David vs Goliath.

Swiss Army anti-air gunners successfully caught a number of trespassing planes in their crosshairs (pinterest.com)

The trouble between the two states began with the Battle of France from early May, 1940 and reached boiling point before tensions cooled with the onset of the Battle of Britain three months later. With the German Luftwaffe swarming over France, it no doubt felt to them that Europe was its playpen with little concern for what the Helvetic Cantons to their south might think of their military largesse. German incursions began to occur frequently and 197 Luftwaffe sorties violated Swiss airspace subsequently.

Luftwaffe Vs Luftwaffe

Yet Swiss fighter squadrons zealously defended their airspace. Between the 10th of May 1940 and 17th of June the Swiss shot down 11 German aircraft while suffering the loss of three of their own aircraft in several skirmishes. Intercepting foreign aircraft was initially a real struggle due to their rudimentary command and control assets exposed early on when, for instance, a light bomber crossed into the western Jura sector and almost made it 400 miles (640 km) out at the other side at the eastern sector before being shot down, crashing into Austrian territory.

By June the 1st, Belgium had fallen and the British had scurried back across the ‘moat’ of the Channel to the security of ‘fortress Great Britain’. As the Germans manoeuvred to deliver the coup de grace to France, it brought them closer to Switzerland and in an attempt to test the fortitude and capacity of the Helvetic defences Hitler and Goring, Commander-in-Chief of the Luftwaffe, ratcheted up the pressure.

As the tally of German planes shot down over Switzerland grew, an aggravated Goring decided to bait the Swiss into a showdown. On June the 4th, dozens of fighters and bombers were sent to fly just on the French side of the border to flit in and out of Swiss airspace with the aim of drawing Swiss fighters into engaging them over France. This would give Goring a propaganda instrument against the Swiss as they could be smeared as aggressors. Three German squadrons crossed the border looking for trouble yet none was encountered. In the afternoon, however, almost 30 Bf-110s plus a single bomber took up position just north of a border town in the Neuchatel Canton to goad the Swiss into action. Eight Messerschmitts and Moranes accompanied by an observation plane attacked the Germans, destroying two of them for the loss of one in return. Now, Goring had what he wanted. He angrily proclaimed a ‘violation of international law by Swiss fighter planes’ aggressively attacking German aircraft over France.

The Swiss were teetering on the edge of war as the Krauts turned the screws further. On June the 8th, there were no less than 133 violations into Swiss airspace, mainly over the Porrentruy and Schaffhausen territorial salients that jut into France and Germany respectively. Before noon an unarmed Swiss recce plane was caught unawares and its two aircrew were fatally wounded before the plane crash-landed. That afternoon, the Germans charged over the border with three squadrons of 28 to 32 Bf-110s looking for a fight. They employed the ‘vineyard’ tactic whereby each squadron took up a defensive carousel formation but each at altitude intervals of 2000m. The Swiss rose to the challenge. 10-15 Bf-109s led by no less than three squadron leaders were let loose on the trespassers. As they roared in, fierce and frantic fighting erupted. The Germans had prepared their trap well yet their adversaries, well outnumbered but fighting with their backs against the wall, were drilled to fly their more nimble 109s against the larger, lumbering 110s so as not to be overwhelmed by the swarm of Germans. They held their own. By the fight’s end the Swiss had lost a Bf-109 but downed three German fighters, including one caught by Swiss anti-aircraft flak.

The diplomatic situation was now on a knife edge. Swiss diplomats were struggling to mollify the increasingly incandescent Third Reich leadership. It must be remembered how heavily the Swiss depended on their northern neighbour for material imports. By July the 1st, the Swiss were sent a diplomatic note informing them it would be the last one they would receive in protest over their attacks on German aircraft ‘over French airspace’ and in future ‘other means’ would be used to protect themselves.

Indeed, since June the 8th, Hitler was beginning to eye the Swiss more predatorily. Now at the height of his pride and vanity, the humiliation wrought by the swashbuckling Swiss pilots was enough to make the dictator consider it might we worth dealing with the pesky southerners once and for all. He was especially riled that German military hardware was being used to shoot down the Third Reich’s own planes. Hitler ordered his generals to draw up an invasion plan titled Operation Tannenbaum but, of course, this would never be carried out.

As a result of political pressure from within as much as from without, the Swiss military command buckled. General Guisen, the Swiss Commander-in Chief, ordered his squadrons to stand down. Their border patrols were halted and they were ordered to hold fire in all but self-defence. To further appease the Germans, the Swiss returned all interned planes and pilots – a clear violation of the Geneva Convention that stipulated neutral nations must intern military personnel and hardware of either belligerent’s until the war’s end.

But these diplomatic efforts were prudent. By mid July, Britain’s battle for survival began and as fighting intensified over England, Swiss Germanic relations were put on ice. Hitler, now placated, withdrew his Messerschmitts from the border.

As the war raged on, Switzerland showed little bias to either the Axis or Allies whenever their air units violated its borders. British bomber incursions began in 1940, using Swiss airspace as a safe route to reach the Fatherland, and were high level night-time missions that the Swiss lacked the means to intercept. Allied bomber incursions then dwindled for a few years because the Swiss turned out their lights to make navigation through their airspace too difficult, but by 1943, their numbers surged once the RAF was augmented by the mighty USAF with its vast numbers of heavy bombers. Allied incursions occured either deliberately, due to errors of navigation or when stricken aircraft desperate to land chose to be interred by Swiss authorities over being captured as prisoners of war. 

An American P51 Mustang crash-landed in Switzerland, though likely not due to Swiss gunfire. (swissinfo.ch)

Allied Bombs

By this point, numbers of Swiss anti-air flak units had increased and more combat aircraft had been acquired. But more capable Allied aircraft operating in much larger formations than whatever the Third Reich employed made defending Swiss airspace even more daunting, yet the Swiss continued to guard their airspace, though much more passively given the Allies’ vast numbers and strength. The first Allied aircraft to be shot down were two RAF bombers flying low over Swiss territory in July 1943, caught by Swiss anti-aircraft fire. Later in October, an American bomber was shot down and only three of its crew survived. More than 100 B-17s and B-24s bombers in total were either shot down or, more commonly, forced to land – over a thousand allied aircrew interned for the duration of the war. Another source states six Allied aircraft were shot down by Swiss Air Force fighters and four by anti-aircraft cannons, killing 36 Allied airmen. One notable incident was when American P-51 Mustangs escorting a damaged B-17 bomber crossed into Swiss airspace and were confronted by Swiss Bf-109s. Whether the 109s actually attacked the Americans is not known but the P-51 pilots, perhaps unsure of their nationality, perhaps not, attacked the Swiss aircraft, shooting down one and damaging the other.

Much more gravely for the Swiss, the Allies bombed Switzerland repeatedly. The most serious incident to occur was when 50 B-24 Liberators misidentified Schaffhausen as their German target that was actually 146 miles (235 km) to the north. They dropped sixty tons of bombs on the town. Although an air raid alarm sounded, it had been set off so many times prior without any attack that complacency had set in and the locals failed to take cover. A total of 40 people were killed and about 270 injured. Other cities hit during the war included Geneva, Basel, Zurich and the historic town of Stein am Rhein. Officially speaking, these were all tragic accidents and that Swiss diplomats complained loudly over and received grovelling apologies from the Allied high command in response. Alternative narratives suggest that at least some of these bombings were quite deliberate in order to punish the Swiss for attacking Allied aircraft and to send a warning to halt their economic and industrial co-operation with the Axis powers. It was known, for example, that Switzerland were allowing trains to transport war matériel between Germany and Italy. 

The aftermath of the Allied bombing of Schaffhausen where some 400 bombs were dropped (swissinfo.ch)

Allies bombed Swiss towns on a total of 70 occasions, killing 84 civilians. In the end, the Americans paid the Swiss over $18 million in compensation for these ‘accidents’.

So, the war was not a peaceful period for the Swiss even if they were ‘at peace’. They demonstrated to the world that their placid stance to war was not one borne of meekness. Perhaps one day they will have to show their resolve to protect themselves again.

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Rating: 1 out of 5.

Italy’s Most Successful Football Clubs Ever (May, 2021)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence. It is its trophy cabinet, however, which really sorts the economy class clubs from the business class, or even private jet ones.

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe. It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won. Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria. Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

Italian Football and Serie A

Sold Price: Sport Poster Football Villalba Spain Rome Italy - November 6,  0120 3:00 PM GMT

With its National Championship founded in 1898, Italy has given a lot to the beautiful game over the many decades since. Italian football drips with history and culture, reflecting the country in general, and like the country, Italian football is known for the passion and style that it has in bucket loads.

Serie A was at its zenith by the 20th Century’s end, dominating Europe and being the most glamorous league on the planet.

Its clubs have also enjoyed incredible success in UEFA competitions, from the numerous triumphs which made AC Milan the legendary club it still is to lesser known winners such as Palma which has amassed 3 UEFA trophies. Italian football’s impressive 240.5 Success Points in international competitions reflects its European pedigree.

Serie A has passed on the torch to La Liga and the PL as we head into the 21st Century’s 3rd decade yet Serie A is still a force to be reckoned with.

Scroll down to the bottom to view the full table of Italy’s Most Successful Clubs

Competition Key
Points
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (Supercoppa Italiana)
1
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup
2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup
3
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League
4
AC: Association Cup (Coppa Italia)
5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League
6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup
6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League
8
T: Top Tier League Title (Serie A)
9

Here, the ARL countdown of the Top 3 Most Successful Football Clubs in Italy:

3. Inter Milan FC

Campione del Mondo: Inter are FIFA Club World Cup Champions - Serpents of  Madonnina

Points: 263

Earliest Trophy Won: Serie A, 1910

Latest Trophy Won: Serie A, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Helenio Herrera – 40 points (1960-68 and 1973-74)

Despite coming in at 3rd place, Internazionale Milano is a true giant of the European game having won European and Italian crowns on numerous occasions.

The ‘Nerazzurri’ (Black and Blues) won their very first championship in 1910 and the captain and coach of that first championship winning team, Virgilio Fossati, was sadly killed later while serving in the army during World War I. The club would grab its first ‘Coppa’ in 1939. Its greatest period came in 1960 with the arrival of coach Helenio Herrera from Barcelona FC. He implemented a modified version of the ‘door bolt’ system of play, created to provide greater flexibility for counterattacks. Under Herrera’s first period in charge Inter won 3 Titles and 2 European Cups.

Inter was awarded its 14th Title in 2005–06, after Juventus and AC Milan were stripped of points due to a match fixing scandal that year. It would peak again under manager legend Jose Mourinho who lead the club to an unprecedented ‘European Treble’ in the 2009-10 season.

Inter broke Juventus’ stranglehold on Serie A by winning the Title in 2021.

Winning major trophies every decade except the 1940s, Inter Milan has a well established global profile. It sits 3rd in the Italy rankings with over 250 Success points.

2. AC Milan FC

Ruud Gullit - Milan Maestro

Points: 285

Earliest Trophy Won: Serie A, 1901

Latest Trophy Won: Supercoppa Italiana, 2016

Most Successful Manager: Nereo Rocco – 65 points (1961-1963, 1967-73 and 1977)

The ‘Rossoneri’ (The Red and Blacks) were founded at the end of the 19th Century by two Englishmen and the club won its first Title just 2 years after. Two further Titles were won before some of its members split away after a dispute to form fierce rivals Internazionale in 1908. After that, AC Milan won nothing for decades.

The 20th Century’s second half was when Milan really started to take off. It won 4 Titles in the ’50s with famous Swedish attacking trio ‘Gre-No-Li‘ in its ranks; 3 more in the ’60s and 6 Serie As during its, and Serie A’s, glittering period of the ’90s. Milan has also won the joint 2nd most ECs/CLs in Europe, winning 7 to date (2020).

Although also football giants, like Inter, both clubs have struggled to win much since the start of the 2010s. The epicentre of Italian football has shifted from Milan to Turin due to the stranglehold over Italian football that city’s no. 1 club now has.

1. Juventus FC

Juventus' open-top bus victory parade in Turin marred by injuries to six  fans

Points: 453.5

Earliest Trophy Won: Serie A, 1905

Latest Trophy Won: Coppa Italia and Supercoppa Italiana, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Giovanni Trapattoni – 95.5 points (1976 – 1986 and 1991–1994)

Juventus is a club, like Bayern Munich of Germany and France’s Paris Saint Germain, that has enjoyed a near monopoly over trophy winning in its domestic league since the 2010s began. This is somewhat impressive given it was relegated for a season in 2006-07. It is subsequently Serie A’s superstar club with an incredible 400+ success points.

It’s hard to single out Juve’s ‘glory years’ as they’ve been bringing home the bacon consistently since the 1930s. Only during the ’40s, ’60s and noughties were trophies a little harder to come by. The 2010s are easily Juve’s most successful decade with 8 Titles and 96 out of its 447.5 points won (as of 2020). They have also managed the rare feat of winning every UEFA trophy possible, including 2 EC/CLs.

Like Bayern, Juventus’s strength in Serie A might mean that the club is so successful it weakens the league it plays in by making it less of a spectacle, in turn, weakening Juventus; and this might explain why Juve haven’t won a CL in decades.

Best of the Rest

Turin’s 2nd club, Torino FC, comes 4th in the rankings on 88 points and outside the ‘Big 100+’. From 1942-1949 (with a break due to WW2) ‘Grande Torino’ won 5 Titles in a row. This team of ‘invincibles’ also won the first ever League/Cup double in Serie A and once provided 10 players for the national team.

Genoa CFC, in 5th place and FC Pro Vercelli, in as 9th most successful are Italy’s ‘dormant volcanos’. Between them they won 16 Titles from 1898-1924 when Serie A was in its infancy.

Genoa won the first 6 out of 7 Serie As (then called the National Championships) using a strong English contingent. It’s probably worth noting the first few of these were small affairs with less than 5 teams competing.

Vercelli struggled in the doldrums of Italian football from the 1930s onwards before folding in 2010. It’s since been reincarnated. Will either club erupt again?

Let’s doff our caps to one of Italy’s more flamboyant clubs – Parma Calcio at 12th in the rankings. From out of nowhere Parma snatched 6 major trophies – 3 of then UEFA trophies – and all its 36.5 success points in just 10 years, from 1992-2002. This, under the guidance of Nevio Scala followed by a rare cup double under coach Carlo Ancelotti.

Competition KeyPoints
SC: Domestic ‘Super Cup’ (Supercoppa Italiana)1
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
AC: Association Cup (Coppa Italia)5
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (Serie A)9

Success Point Ranking Table

PositionClubSub-point TotalsSuccess Points Total
1Juventus FCSC: 9 x 1 = 9
UEFA SC: 2 x 2 = 4
FIFA CWC: 2 x 3 = 6
AC: 14 x 5 = 70
EL: 3 x 6 = 18
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
CL: 2 x 8 = 16
T: 36 x 9 = 324
453.5
2AC MilanSC: 7 x 1 = 7
UEFA SC: 5 x 2 = 10
FIFA CWC: 4 x 3 = 12
AC: 5 x 5 = 25
UEFA CWC: 2 x 6.5 = 13
CL: 7 x 8 = 56
T: 18 x 9 = 162
285
3Inter Milan FCSC: 5 x 1 = 5
FIFA CWC: 3 x 3 = 9
AC: 7 x 5 = 35
EL: 3 x 6 = 18
CL: 3 x 8 = 24
T: 19 x 9 = 171
+1 (Treble)
263
4Torino FCAC: 5 x 5 = 25
T: 7 x 9 = 63
88
5Genoa CFCAC: 1 x 5 = 5
T: 9 x 9 = 81
86
=6Bologna FCAC: 2 x 5 = 10
T: 7 x 9 = 63
73
=6AS RomaSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 9 x 5 = 45
T: 3 x 9 = 27
73
8SS LazioSC: 5 x 1 = 5
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 7 x 5 = 35
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 2 x 9 = 18
66.5
9FC Pro Vercelli 1892T: 7 x 963
10SSC NapoliSC: 2 x 1 = 2
AC: 6 x 5 = 30
EL: 1 x 6 = 6
T: 2 x 9 = 18
56
11AFC FiorentinaSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 6 x 5 = 30
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 2 x 9 = 18
55.5
=13UC SampdoriaSC: 1 x 1 = 1
AC: 4 x 5 = 20
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 1 x 9 = 9
36.5
=13Parma Calcio 1913SC: 1 x 1 = 1
UEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 3 x 5 = 15
EL: 2 x 6 = 12
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
36.5
=15Casale FBC
USD Novese
Cagliare Calcio
Hellas Verona FC
T: 1 x 9 = 99

Model Citizen Returned to Prison, 2014

The time the US justice system accidently released a prisoner 90 years early. When they tried to correct their error years after, they found the ex-convict was rehabilitated. Read about Rene Lima-Marin’s battle to stay free

It was just another day for Rene Lima-Marin in his job helping to transform city skylines by installing glass windows into skyscrapers until an unknown caller buzzed his mobile phone. The woman on the line said she was from the Denver Public Defender’s office. As she talked Lima-Marin could feel his breathing turn shallow, his muscles tighten and his mind start to race.

For the slim Latino man, with his hair shaved high on the back and sides and an immaculately groomed goatee, the day had come he feared for years would. Now all those dreams and plans lay shattered like a windowpane that slipped from his grasp.

The story started fourteen years before when 22-year-old Lima-Marin and an accomplice were sentenced for committing robbery, burglary, and kidnapping during a series of video store robberies. These were to be served consecutively so, the US legal system being what it was, effectively locked the two up and threw away the key.

The sentence was a whopping 98 years. It was basically game over for the two young men.

Yet maybe Lima-Marin had an angel guardian looking out for him or something. The court clerk mistakenly wrote ‘concurrently’ not ‘consecutively’ next to his sentence and Lima-Marin discovered he only had a nine-year stint to do (not so his accomplice, however). Realising someone had blundered, he kept shtum and did his time.

2008 came around and Lima-Marin heard the main gate of Colorado’s Crowley County Correctional Facility slam behind him and his life, rebooted, in front of him. Was he going to take his second chance to live a good life as a rehabilitated man or would he slip back into his old ways?

He married his old girlfriend and became a father to her one-year-old son. He found a job, and then a better union job working construction on skyscrapers in the centre of Denver. The family went to church. They took older relatives in at their new, bigger house in a nice area of Aurora. They then had a child together, another boy.

Lima-Marin feared that the justice system would discover its mistake and destroy what he was building. But the years passed by and the fear receded as his life entered the humdrum slipstream of work, church and football training for his sons. After six years, this was surely proof he was rehabilitated.

The phone call from the Public Defender’s Office informed him that the Justice Department had discovered their mistake and, gut-wrenching though it was, he was going to have to go back to serve out the rest of his life long sentence.

How on earth was Lima-Marin going to break the news to his family? How were they all going to bear the heartache?

Lima Marin embraces his son while in prison (denverpost.com)

From there his fortunes fluctuated like a heart monitor does for someone whose life hangs on a knife-edge; he went back to prison but, after a campaign for clemency lasting years, the state governor pardoned him.

Lima-Marin’s wife’s euphoric high upon hearing this seesawed to a scream of frustration when the news was followed up with the fact her husband had to fight his case against illegal immigration in an immigration centre.

The ending however was a happy one for Lima-Marin. He overcame the final hurdle by winning his case and walked away a free man, for good, from Aurora’s detention facility in 2018.

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Child Drowned for an Hour but Survives, 1986

Read of how a little girl survived a 1-hour submersion in freezing creek water one Summer in Utah.

On a hot June day the birds were singing, the bees buzzing, and mum’s voice on the phone wafted through the warm air, so warm after a late start to Summer.

Her reassuring tones set her blond-haired toddler at ease to range the backyard’s expanse and soak up its lush colours.

The green foliage was offset by a beautifully painted butterfly, drifting into focus for the keen-eyed child.

Two and a half-year-old Michelle Funk’s eyes sparkled in awe and the eyes on the butterfly’s wings waved back. She lunged to grope the floating beauty to hold it. The butterfly flittered on towards the sound of gushing water.

Could the intrepid infant reach the insect before the forest of grass which marked the garden boundary end the chase? Her mother’s voice was now almost drowned out by the babble of icy cold water below.

She got her break; in a chance moment the butterfly dipped in time for Michelle to swing her little arms up and capture her quarry.

But the ground treacherously slipped downwards; her face an instant of triumph turned to alarm as she vanished under the grass blades towards the water’s edge …Michelle’s alert older brother hared back to the house.

At the Bells Canyon Creek-bank Michelle tumbled down through the grass then plunged over the edge. There was no one to respond to her gurgled cries. As the warm sun rays glistened off the mountain meltwater Michelle slipped under, lost.

Michelle drowned in the Bells Canyon Creek for over an hour (thisisgoodgood.com)

The minutes ticked by; her skin now a ghostly white and her flame barely flickering. After 66 minutes a rescuer finally hauled her blue, lifeless form from the 4 Celcius (40 Fahrenheit) water. Could she be saved at all? If there was even the smallest chance it was worth the try.

They rushed her to hospital where a Dr Bolte was waiting. The extreme time Michelle had been submerged had surely drowned her. Many doctors, knowing how long she’d been submerged, would have declared her dead on arrival — indeed some of them thought Bolte crazy for even entertaining the notion she had a decent chance.

Yet one factor was in her favour; instead of sealing her fate, the icy submersion had slowed down her metabolism to the extent her body’s oxygen needs were suspended. What’s more by happenstance, Dr Bolte had been preparing for such an emergency for months. He and his team went straight to work.

They started injecting warm fluids into Michelle’s veins and stomach and squeezed warmed air through a tube into her lungs, but three hours after the child had fallen into the creek she was still lifeless. Meanwhile, Michelle’s parents and doctors feared her resuscitation would merely bring her back to a vegetative state. They persevered.

However it was when her body reached 25 Celcius (77 Fahrenheit) that Bolte allowed himself to think there was hope for the poor little thing yet. She gasped; moments later she opened her eyes; then her pupils, responding to the bright lights in the operating room, narrowed — a sign of returning brain function. And then, to everyone’s cheers and high fives, a faint heartbeat was detected.

Michelle was saved and made a full recovery with no lasting cognitive damage. Even the staid Journal of the American Medical Association described the case of Michelle Funk as “miraculous’’.

Her treatment went on to form the protocol for treating previously deadly cases of drowning.

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US Airforce Almost Nukes Spain, 1966

The time the US accidently dropped not one, but three nuclear devices on Spanish soil.

The imagery of a nuclear fireball inspires awe and terror in equal doses; we all understand the capacity a massive ball of rising red flame, seen on the horizon, has to turn flesh to dust and obliterate anything in its proximity. The nuclear bomb’s destructive energy is a byword for the collapse of civilisation into Armageddon.

Thus handling nuclear weapons is delicately done with many safeguards …but accidents are inevitable.

It was January 1966 and the Cold War was at such an icy stage US B52 strategic bombers were being kept constantly airborne, ready to rain death and destruction on the Soviet populace at a moment’s notice.

These big bombers were armed with four B28 nuclear bombs with a total explosive force of 6,000,000 tonnes of TNT; if any airborne accident were to occur the result of those nukes being destroyed could potentially kill millions and make vast tracts of the earth below uninhabitable.

The day was 17th of January and one of those massive, lumbering eight-engined birds vectored into rendezvous with a KC135 air tanker at 9,450m (31,000ft).

They were currently over Spain as the B52 took on its first of two refuels as part of a mammoth flight from its airbase in North Carolina, across the Atlantic and on to the Adriatic Sea, before returning.

The B52 came in behind the tanker, but too fast and the two aircraft collided with the nozzle of the refuelling boom striking the top of the B-52 fuselage.

The airborne fuel tanker erupted into a massive fireball, killing all four of its crew and three of seven of the bomber’s crew, with the remaining three bailing out in time.

Yet, four nuclear bombs plummeted down with the plane wreckage. One of the highly lethal weapons plunged into the sea but the other three smashed into land.

Was Spain’s Andalusia province transformed into a radiated wasteland? Two of the bombs’ conventional explosives did detonate on impact, contaminating 1.0 sq mi (2.6 square kilometres) with radioactive material yet safeguards were in place to block a nuclear fusion reaction that would release the bombs’ destructive energy.

The Andalusians came very close to utter catastrophe and still had a serious incident on their hands.

The US Govt took responsibility for the recovery of the nukes and cleaned up the affected area by removing 6000 barrels of contaminated soil to the USA.

Soon after the Spanish government formally banned U.S. flights over its territory that carried such weapons, and such long-range B52 sorties were ended two years later.

Where the bombs fell in Spain (dailymail.co.uk)
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The Craziest Ever Day of English Football

The hectic goal-fest of Boxing Day, 1963 when 66 goals were scored in 10 games in the English top flight Division 1 is probably the most epic day in English football history. Read about the time records were broken and legends were made.

The beautiful game has a reputation in some quarters for not being the most exciting sport because it’s perhaps the only sport where matches can sometimes be played without a single game point being scored.

Yet football often throws up games of breathless action and Boxing Day 1963 served up a whole day of them with 66 goals in just 10 games.

It was the day after Christmas in 1963, still three years to go before England’s first and, to date, only World Cup triumph. Everton were the English Division 1 (precursor to the Premier League) title holders and AC Milan were the current European champions. On that day 20 of the 22 Division 1 clubs were going to attempt to warm the hearts and bodies of spectators across the land, numbed as they were by artic temperatures during the ‘Big Freeze of 63’, with an exhilarating 90 minutes.

Firstly, Liverpool, who would go on to be crowned league champions that season, thrashed Stoke City 6-1 at home with club legend Roger Hunt scoring four goals. Hunt went on be a record goalscorer for ‘The Reds’ and played an integral part of England’s 1966 World Cup campaign.

Matt Busby’s Man United, meanwhile, were thrashed 6-1 away by Burnley with four of their goals coming from striker Andy Lochhead. The Guardian wrote: “The Clarets were organised and compact as they set about dismantling the FA Cup holders, and it was down to ‘Morgan’s mastery’ that a series of frustrated fouls ultimately resulted in a red card for United defender Paddy Crerand.”

Entertaining draws were played out by Sheffield Utd, who fought back to draw after going 3-0 down to Nottingham Forest, and cross-town rivals Wolves and Aston Villa also played out a 3-3 draw.

West Bromwich Albion and UEFA Cup Winners Cup holders Tottenham Hotspur fought out an eight goal thriller after Spurs let a 4-2 lead slip from their grasp to end the game even-stevens. Days earlier, West Brom’s players had gone on strike when they were told that they had to wear shorts to train in freezing conditions during the exceptionally artic winter of that year, but peace was reached ahead of their Boxing Day fixture and the Daily Mirror wrote that “the only crisis at the Hawthorns [West Brom stadium] was in the Spurs defence.

Chelsea’s away victory over Blackpool meanwhile was won at a trot, with ‘the Blues’ scoring five goals to Blackpool’s one.

Then there was the game with West Ham v Blackburn. ‘the Blues and Whites’ showed why they were current league leaders by demolishing the London side a whopping eight goals to two which is their highest ever away win. Both England footballer Fred Pickering and Republic of Ireland international Andy McAvoy scored hattricks that afternoon and McAvoy went on to be the joint top goalscorer for that season. A reporter summed up the game thus: “Everything West Ham did was tinged with misfortune. Everything Blackburn did was coldly calculated and correct.

West Ham goalkeeper Jim Standen trudges away as he conceded eight against Blackburn (dailymail.co.uk)

Even that game was topped, however, when Fulham destroyed visitors Ipswich Town 10-1. ‘The Tractor Boys’ had been crowned English champions just 18 months prior, but in this game Bobby Howfield scored a hattrick and Scottish International Graham Leggat scored four goals including a hattrick chalked up in an incredible three minutes. That was a record fastest hattrick in Division 1 history. Fulham boss Bedford Jezzard said after the game: “It must have been those lovely turkeys we gave ’em for Christmas. From now on, they get one every week.” Ipswich chairman John Cobbold could only retort: “It could have gone either way, until the match began.” That result is both Fulham’s best, and Ipswich’s worst ever result respectively to date.

Newspaper report of Fulham’s historic win (fulhamfc.com)

The two other results were Leicester City’s 2-0 win over Everton and Sheffield Wednesday’s 3-0 defeat of Bolton Wanderers.

That afternoon’s incredible haul of 66 goals scored in a single round of league fixtures compares to a Premier League record of 44 goals. It was a crazy day. Tottenham centre forward Terry Dyson, who played in his side’s 4-4 draw with West Bromwich Albion, remarked: “It was a bizarre afternoon of football, without a doubt.

Even more remarkably, two days later the reverse fixtures were played out and some of those badly mauled teams turned the tables on their tormentors.

Despite how dominant their opponents had been on Boxing Day, West Ham would hit back at Blackburn with a 3-1 win, Ipswich overcame Fulham 4-2, and Man Utd retaliated against Burnley with a 5-1 thrashing. And Bolton Wanders also bounced back to beat Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 to cancel out their previous result.

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Drunken Aviator Lands in City Centre, 1956

In perhaps the greatest ‘hold my beer’ escapade to date, Thomas Fitzpatrick stole a plane to prove he could fly from Jersey to New York in just 15 minutes. Read about how he won his crazy bet.

Bulky sedans rumbled sedately along the right-angled streets, and haggard creatures of the night here and there passed under the patchy street lighting past rows of rectilinear brownstone tenements.

It was the witching hour on St Nics Avenue in New York City’s heart. Of course in the city that never sleeps life still stirred, and it was about to get a serious wake up call.

Jimmy was wiping down the bar waiting for the last of his patrons to stumble out after a long night. The edge of his lips curled up with a wry smile; earlier that night one of his favourite patrons, a gung-ho flyboy named Thomas ‘Fitz’ Fitzpatrick made a bet that he could fly from New Jersey to New York City in 15 minutes. ‘I’ll land out there to prove it, how ‘bout that?’ slurred Fitz. ‘OK ya crazy, drunken Irishman’ laughed Jimmy ‘Hold my beer, will ya?.’ And, with a leery grin, Fitzpatrick plodded out the door.

Good laughs, thought Jimmy.

That was almost an hour ago. A barking dog out the window broke his reverie and Jimmy looked up to see a late night walker and his dog facing opposite directions; the man was pulled back by his leashed dog.

The mut was staring back up the street and whined, its head tilted with that gaze of rapt concentration only a dog can do. “Come on!” the guy bawled, looking bewildered.

Then Jim detected the sound of an engine, but it was no automobile; it was more of a deep buzz, and it quickly got louder.

That sound was one of a small plane approaching and, crazy as it sounds, Fitzpatrick was making his approach to land the thing on the Avenue.

One or two cars screeched to a halt as the small aircraft buzzed overhead. Bedroom lights flicked on and anyone quick enough caught a fleeting glimpse of Fitzpatrick as he zipped by.

Jimmy slammed the door open in time to witness, mouth agape, the plane touchdown and whizz past his bar before coming to a stop.

So Fitz won the bet after all!

The stolen plane on St Nics Avenue, complete with chalk outline (cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com)

After leaving the bar, Fitzpatrick had hightailed it 15 miles across the state line to Teterboro Airport and there, stole an aircraft.

What the wager was is unknown but he won his bet and his antics made newspaper headlines. The New York Times called the flight a “feat of aeronautics” and a “fine landing”, and a plane parked in the middle of the street made for quite a sight in the morning.

For his illegal flight, he was fined $100 after the plane’s owner refused to press charges.

Incredibly Fitzpatrick performed the same stunt again in 1958 because in another bar someone questioned the story. For that, he was sentenced to 6 months incarceration, blaming his antics on the “lousy drink

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Train Crash for Publicity, 1896

What’s the best way to promote train travel to Texas? Stage a train crash for people to come and see there, of course! Read about what happened on the big day when the guy in charge of health and safety took the day off.

We know that one to two hundred years back, people’s faith in God and hardy living standards made them much more immune to the seductions of health and safety; they could be pretty casual about accidents occurring and should someone get killed in an construction project, for example, then that was what your faith was for.

It was 1896 USA and a marketing guru was tasked with promoting train ticket sales to Texas. What genius idea did he pull out of the bag? To stage a train crash, of course!

Sounding like a scene that should’ve made it into ‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’, the stunt was be held in the specially built town of Crush and the idea was to sell tickets so that people could visit the state and make a jamboree of it, with amusements and sideshows to the main event – 50,000 people attended.

The organisers weren’t dismissive of health and safety however, they took it seriously big time. Spectators to the crash rail track had to stay a whole 180m (200yards) back and reporters half that – I bet they couldn’t even make out the names on the drivers’ name badges they were so safely far away.

A specially built track was laid and the stage was set; two 32 tonne steam locomotives would be driven at each other, with time given for the crews to jump off before collision.

A local newspaper report described the scene: “The rumble of the two trains, faint and far off at first, was like the gathering force of a cyclone…They rolled down at a frightful rate of speed… Nearer and nearer as they approached the fatal meeting place the rumbling increased, the roaring grew louder

Then the trains impacted: “…a crash, a sound of timbers rent and torn, and then a shower of splinters… There was just a swift instance of silence and then, as if controlled by a single impulse, both boilers exploded simultaneously and the air was filled with flying missiles of iron and steel varying in size from a postage stamp to half of a driving wheel…

Debris was blown hundreds of metres into the air and panic quickly broke out as the crowd turned and ran. Some of the debris came down among the spectators, killing three people and injuring dozens.

Crowds clamber around the train wreck of America’s deadliest ever stunt (southernmysteries.com)

In the aftermath the train company involved had to pay out tens of thousands of dollars in compensation to the crash victims as headlines of the spectacular event flashed across the country.

Ultimately, the company profited enormously from the botched stunt, however, which goes to show that infamy is often as good as publicity.

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Scottish Football’s Most Successful Clubs Ever (May, 2021)

ARL Football Success Ranking System

Whilst any club which remotely thinks it deserves the label ‘big’ should be playing in the top league of its association, buying the best players and, ideally, holding down a global brand presence, it is its trophy cabinet which really sorts the economy class clubs from the private jet ones.

The ARL Football Success Ranking System for men’s European club football establishes for certain which clubs are the most successful of each nation and in the whole of Europe.

It is a system of scoring points to clubs based on what trophies and how many have been won.

Different trophies score different points and are based on a ‘glory’ criteria.

Only ‘competitive football’ trophies are considered.

Competition KeyPoints
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup2
LC: League Cup (Scottish League Cup)2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup3
AC: Association Cup (Scottish FA Cup)3
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League4
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Scottish Premiership)7

Scotland, its Premiership and ‘Old Firm’

As one of football’s ‘Home Nations’ Scotland’s football spans three centuries. The Scottish Cup is the 2nd oldest in the world and its clubs have been fighting it out for National Championships since 1890.

A number of countries have stand-out giants of the game which dominate their leagues. Scotland is famous for two of these giants and their ferocious, all consuming rivalry is known as the ‘Old Firm’. It has been ever-present and completely overshadows the Premiership. Both clubs subsequently have ginormous Success Point hauls leaving scraps for the rest. Just these two clubs make it into the ‘Big 100+’ yet have over 1000 Success points between them! – As good a testament to Glasgow’s age old dominance over Scottish league football as any.

The Premiership prospered after WW2 but it just couldn’t keep up with the sort of money neighbouring England’s Premier League could attract. 21st Century Scottish football is comparatively poor as a result. Clubs between leagues 11-55 of the UEFA Coefficient score -2 points per domestic trophy. The SP is 11th in the Coefficient as of 2021.

Scottish clubs have had some success in Europe, winning 3 major trophies between them including the first UEFA trophy in the whole of Britain. They have 23 Success Points from UEFA competitions.

Scroll to the bottom to view the full table of Scotland’s Most Successful clubs


Below are Scotland’s 2 Most Successful clubs ever:

2. Celtic FC

Points: 512

Earliest Trophy Won: Scottish Cup, 1892

Latest Trophies Won: Scottish Premiership, Cup and League Cup, 2020

Most Successful Manager: Willie Maley – 154 Success points (1897-1940)

This Glaswegian club was founded by a Catholic priest as a means of raising money to alleviate poverty in the slums. 5 years later they would beat Rangers in their first ever game 5-2, then described as a ‘friendly encounter’.

Few clubs reach the stratospheric 500+ Success Point mark. To do this, Celtic have been filling their boots with silverware almost non-stop. This includes winning over a quarter of all Scottish Cups. They’ve won Titles every decade except the 1940s. The ‘50s was a lean decade, as other clubs such as Hibernian FC enjoyed success, so too were the ‘90s which betrayed the fact Celtic’s stewards had failed to keep abreast of rising commercial revenue streams which had begun to infuse football across Europe.

Its most successful decade was the 2010s with 88 points. It managed 6 Titles in a row from 1905-1910; 9 from 1966-74 plus 9 consecutively from 2012-2020. These are not the sorts of winning streaks seen at all often with other giant clubs!

Under club manager legend, Jock Stein, ‘The Bhoys’ would claim their first quadruple in 1967 managing to grab Scotland’s first and only European Cup as well. It was a feat that’s never been matched south of the border; an ‘annus mirabilis‘ for Celtic. Celtic took full advantage of Rangers’ exile from the top flight to achieve an ‘invincible’ season – and sixth treble – under Brenden Rogers in 2017.

1. Rangers FC

Points: 551.5

Earliest Trophy Won: Scottish Division 1, 1891

Latest Trophy Won: Scottish Premiership, 2021

Most Successful Manager: Bill Struth – 160 Success points (1920-1954)

Rangers FC were founded all the way back in 1872. Those first 19 years before its first major trophy was a rare period when Scottish football was free of the Old Firm’s vice like grip; when only the Scottish Cup was to play for at national level, before the first National Championship in 1890. Rangers would win the 2nd edition in 1891.

Like its Glaswegian rival Celtic, Rangers’ trophy cabinet is absolutely festooned with shiny metal, including a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup (CWC) won in 1972. Rangers have won at least 50% of Titles in 4 out of the 13 decades Scottish Championships have run, and 42% of Scottish Titles total and in every decade since the 1890s.

The 1990s was Rangers’ most successful decade, winning 9 Premierships in a row and 97 Success Points under managers Souness and Smith. After ‘The Gers’ latest League/LC double in 2011 something unfathomable happened, Rangers went into administration due to financial mismanagement and re-emerged in the Scottish 4th tier.

Even in spite of this, Rangers FC is Scotland’s most successful club and the 2nd most successful in all of Europe!

Best of the Rest

As Scotland’s 3rd most successful club, outside the Old Firm’s heady heights, ‘The Dons’ of Aberdeen have done well for themselves, clinching major trophies in every decade since the 1940’s except the 2000s. Aberdeen FC won its first Title in 1955. It then revelled in a glory period under a manager who would go on to become one of the greatest managers in modern history. Under Alex Ferguson’s guidance, the club won three Titles, four Scottish Cups and a League Cup. He also lead them to a UEFA CWC, beating mighty Real Madrid in the final, plus Scotland’s first UEFA Super Cup – all this in the space of seven years.

5th placed Hibernian FC enjoyed their time in the sun from 1948-52 with what was regarded as the finest forward line ever in Scottish football – Hibs’ ‘Famous Five’. They won 3 Titles in that time.

Let’s not forget one of Scottish football’s founding fathers, Queen’s Park FC which comes in at 6th. The club actually pioneered passing in football and had a lot of success before the Old Firm’s rise, winning 10 Scottish Cups and 30 Success Points. It has always rejected professional football status, however, believing it spoils the spirit of competitiveness. Subsequently ‘The Spiders’ last trophy was won in 1893.

Competition Key
Points
UEFA SC: UEFA Super Cup
2
LC: League Cup (Scottish League Cup)
2
FIFA CWC: Intercontinental Cup / FIFA Club World Cup
3
AC: Association Cup (Scottish FA Cup)
3
UEFA ECL: UEFA Europa Conference League
4
UEFA EL: UEFA Cup / Europa League
6
UEFA CWC: UEFA Cup Winners Cup
6.5
UEFA CL: UEFA European Cup / Champions League
8
T: Top Tier League Title (Division 1 / Scottish Premiership)
7

Success Point Ranking Table

PositionClubSub-point TotalsSuccess Point Total
1Rangers FCLC: 27 x 2 = 54
AC: 33 x 3 = 99
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 55 x 7 = 385
+7 (Trebles)
551.5
2Celtic FCLC: 19 x 2 = 38
AC: 34 x 3 = 102
CL: 1 x 8 = 8
T: 51 x 7 = 357
+7 (Trebles)
512
3Aberdeen FCUEFA SC: 1 x 2 = 2
LC: 6 x 2 = 12
AC: 7 x 3 = 21
UEFA CWC: 1 x 6.5 = 6.5
T: 4 x 7 = 28
69.5
4Heart of Midlothian FCLC: 4 x 2 = 8
AC: 8 x 3 = 24
T: 4 x 7 = 28
60
5Hibernian FCLC: 3 x 2 = 6
AC: 3 x 3 = 9
T: 4 x 7 = 28
43
6Queen’s Park FCAC: 10 x 3 = 3030
7Kilmarnock FCLC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 3 x 3 = 9
T: 1 x 7 = 7
18
=8Dumbarton FCAC: 1 x 3 = 3
T: 2 x 7 = 14
17
=8Dundee United FCLC: 2 x 2 = 4
AC: 2 x 3 = 6
T: 1 x 7 = 7
17
10Dundee FCLC: 3 x 2 = 6
AC: 1 x 3 = 3
T: 1 x 7 = 7
16
11Third Lanark A.C.AC: 2 x 3 = 6
T: 1 x 7 = 7
13
12St Johnstone FCLC: 1 x 2 = 2
AC: 2 x 3 = 6
8
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Dog Fall Kills Three Passers-by, 1988

When a poodle fell off a high rise balcony in Buenos Aires, it is hard to understand how it could result in the deaths of three pedestrians below. Read here to find out how it happened.

Cachi’s beady eyes were locked on to the tennis ball the Montoya family’s youngest boy bounced, so engrossed his head nodded up and down to its rebound.

The ball! The furry, squeezy round thing, fast and agile, and to his prehistoric instincts, his prey. Did he want the ball, his 4ft human friend asked? He certainly did.

The breeze cooled the family lounge that wafted through the open balcony doorway. In the background could be heard a cartoon on the TV and the dull, gentle thud of the ceiling fan.

Cachi’s sinews were trip-wire taut in anticipation. Finally the boy released the ball with a lob and it arched over the white family poodle. Cachi launched himself after his quarry.

The ball bounced too far however, bounding out onto the balcony and through the ornate railings to the street below.

Cachi’s frantic bid to gain traction on the smooth clay red ceramic tiles was in vain. With paws flailing, Cachi sadly dropped off the side after it. It was to his demise the apartment was on the most unlucky floor in the building.

To the agonised, lung-busting screech of his best friend ringing in his ears the red-rimmed hat below rushed up at him before he could eve…

Cachi the poodle’s 13 floor fall (bestoftruecrime.com)

A small, delicate lady named Señorita Espina halted her slow walk along the Buenos Aires pavement in just the wrong spot. She turned to admire a lush carpet in a shop window; she admired it for its vivid colours as much as the fact her fading eyesight made it hard to enjoy the sight of anything much further away.

A sharp canine yelp made her jerk her head up. A heavy thump and moan caused other pedestrians to jerk their heads around in turn.

Catchi left his cherished human boy without a chance for even a farewell head pat. His journey to the next life abruptly commenced, now at the heel of his new grey-haired companion.

A woman named Edith Sola, with streaks of grey coming through her long, glossy dark hair, peered across Rivadavia Avenue. Her mouth hung slack-jawed and her brown eyes twinkled in curiosity at the scene.

She craned her head up to see the source of a child’s loud blubbering on a balcony thirteen stories up. Down at street level a crowd had gathered around directly below the balcony looking at… what, she wondered? Her curiosity took over.

The bus driver was making good time moving up the gears along Rivadavia Avenue, too good.

He had about two seconds to react to a woman stepping out into the road obliviously. In vain he stamped the brake pedal as far down into the footwell as it would go and tugged on the steering wheel. The bus screeched; an ugly thump; a crack of bones and Sola’s body was hurled into the air sideways before slapping to the tarmac, motionless.

Yet the catastrophic ripple effect of that bouncing ball wasn’t over. A gentleman had stepped out of a pharmacy in time to witness the small poodle slam into the elderly woman, killing both instantly.

He gasped in dismay, his feet rooted to the spot. He held his head and a silent prayer streamed from his trembling lips.

To turn to see the bus swerve wildly and another person die in front of his very eyes was too much. He suddenly wished desperately to be away from the lights, the babbling onlookers and oncoming blare of sirens. He started to pant, was then stricken with a sharp pain in the chest and his silent prayers were now audible.

His condition had turned to a full-blown heart attack by the time he was placed in an ambulance, and he too sadly perished.

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