so, during the Second World War the BBC broadcast regularly to Italy, to counteract fascist news and propaganda, to encourage revolt, to sustain the morale of partisans and resistance fighters once they got going. It was dangerous business, listening to these broadcasts, and they were pretty unreliable too - both the transmission and the receiving equipment, not to mention the electricity were liable to shonk out at any moment.
The most famous programme was Radio Londra, and in time and folk memory 'Radio Londra' has come to stand for the entire station, or the entire output. It was however actually a twice daily half hour programme broadcast by the former military attaché to Rome, who spoke Italian with a cut-glass RP accent. Partisans would huddle round the set, often with a blanket over both themselves and the set, straining to decipher the crackle and scribble down their encoded instructions; men and women across Italy would surreptiously, singly, settle down to enjoy the illicit thrill of passive resistance, or to examine the knotty issue of which news sources to believe.
Anyway, what makes me giggle is this: at the start of each programme they broadcast a V for Victory, in Morse code. Which is as follows:
i.e. three shot bips then a long beep
or duh duh duh duuuuuuuuh
sing it to yourself... go on...
so yes, Italians across the country spent years wondering why this anti-fascist, anti-nazi programme began with the opening bars of Beethoven's Fifth.
this made me giggle so much in the library I had to pop outside for a few minutes. hehe.
in other WWII amusement (this is a 1940-41 joke):
an Italian and a German soldier are fighting side by side in Greece, and fall to discussing their respective national strengths.
"We've got fantastic tanks, we've got mortars, howitzers, heavy artillery, we've got bombers and fighter planes and anti-aircraft batteries, we've got great rifles, we've got machine guns, we've got hand-grenades," says the German. "We're super-well equipped and ready for anything. What have you got?"
"Us?" says the Italian. "Oh we've got a strong ally."