Letter: Mussolini myth

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Like his modern counterparts, Mussolini had effective spin- doctors, but he didn't make Italian trains run to time (letter, 7June)

I quote from Hamilton Ellis The Splendour of Steam (Allen & Unwin, 1965): "Let me once again demolish that yarn about Benito Mussolini having made the Italian trains run to time. The magician was in fact Cavaliere Carlo Crova, General Manager of the Italian State Railways in the nineteen-twenties. Undaunted by past mismanagement ... undefeated by wartime chaos and post- war political rumpus (the Fascisti and the Communisti scrapped fairly regularly in the streets just then), this remarkable man had taken the crumbling legacy of the three old railway companies - Adriatic, Mediterranean and Sicilian - rallied his demoralized staff, and licked the whole into very fair shape. ... Completion of the Crova reforms, with their quite abrupt incidence of punctuality, happened to coincide with the Fascist revolution, and so the Mussolini Railway Myth was born."

DAVID BURTON

Telford, Shropshire

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