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"Shared joy is double joy.
Shared grief is half grief.”
(A Swedish proverb)
art and history


This is how the Scalesi affectionately called the young Swedish pilots who crashed in the territory of  Scala, on Mount Carro. It was the worst air disaster ever to hit Sweden: of the 21 officers and 5 members of the crew only 4 survived. It was 18th November 1947; a flight from Addis Abeba was taking the young pilots home after a mission in Africa. Maybe because of thick fog, the aeroplane, the Bristol Freighter XI SE-BNG, crashed into the Santa Maria del Monte mountain at a height of 1110 metres.

Here are the headlines of a Swedish newspaper the next day.

The wreckage of the airplane as it appeared to the rescuers. After a freezing night, four shepherds raised the alarm and provided  first aid to the few survivors.

The preparation for the transportation of the bodies. In the foreground, african animal skins which had been bought as exotic souvenirs were used instead as makeshift stretchers.

The inhabitants of Scala climbed the mountain to bring help. The belongings found at the crash site were scrupulously collected and given back. The compassion and the dignity of these simple, poor country folk greatly impressed the Swedish authorities.

The Swedish delegation of military and civilian authorities and the children of Scala.

The parade passes along via Vescovado. The children still remember the toys  they received from the blond-haired men in uniform. The Swedish government, as a sign of recognition for the compassion shown by the local people, funded  the building of a nursery school in Scala.

A Scalese witness of the accident holds a photo of the bodies lined up in the Cathedral. The photograph is from a Swedish documentary about the incident.


The top of Mount Carro. 40 years after the tragedy, a commemorative monument was built on the site of the crash.  The place is one of the most suggestive and panoramic of Scala’s territory and is a site of pilgrimage for those who wish to pay tribute to those young, unfortunate aviators.  However, grief and a sense of solidarity gave birth to a sincere form of friendship between the tiny community of Scala and the country of Sweden which has lasted until the present day.