The memorial dedicated to the plane crash
June 26, 1960 - The memorial stone placed in memory of the disaster
April 1960: Agnese farm and the area of the memorial monument
Photograph taken before 1970 - In the background the house near the former “Agnese farm”
The monument dedicated to the plane crash blessed on August 2, 1964, as it looked up to 1993 (photograph of 1979)
The memorial in 1993
Story of the memorial monument
The day after the plane crash the Municipality of Olgiate Olona headed by mayor Carlo Ferrari publicly stated the intention to erect a monument in the place where the fuselage of the Super Constellation and the remains of the victims were found: the decision was officially ratified by the town Council convened on August 11, 1959.
On June 26, 1960 people from Olgiate Olona and representatives of Municipality, Italian red cross, Police and Firemen gathered in prayer and laid wreaths and bouquets of flowers in the place where the accident occurred. A memorial stone with a cross and the following epigraph was placed: A mesto ricordo della grave sciagura aerea qui verificatasi il 26 giugno 1959. Comune di Olgiate Olona. Provvisorio (translation: in memory of serious air disaster here occurred on June 26, 1959. Municipality of Olgiate Olona. Temporary).
On August 2, 1964 - on the fifth anniversary of the plane crash - a memorial built right in the place where the Super Constellation fuselage crashed was blessed. This event was summarized in the Liber Chronicus of Olgiate Olona Prepositural parish.
During the following years the memorial monument was neglected: besieged by thick vegetation and exposed to the weather, it was forgotten and fell in material and historic degradation.
In 1993 the Group of young families of “Santi Martiri” parish of Legnano restored the memorial (a ceramic tile with the reproduction of a painting by artist Claudio Palma from Legnano was placed on the monument) and organized a celebration of suffrage on Saturday June 26, 1993: the commemoration was celebrated by parson Don Eligio Genoni (who later annotated the event in the parish Liber Chronicus) and was attended by the representatives of Municipality of Olgiate Olona, Italian red cross and military, relatives of the victims - amongst them the son of pilot Harry Louis Stanton - and TWA officials and employees working at Milan-Malpensa Airport.
The restoration of the monument and the commemoration of 1993 did not avoid the recurrence of degradation of memorial and the consequent forgetfulness. This situation captured everyone’s attention in October 2008 when the book Il disastro aereo del 26 giugno 1959 a Olgiate Olona (translation: the plane crash of Olgiate Olona of June 26, 1959) was published.
The memorial monument was restored for the 50th anniversary of the plane crash (as well as the temporary memorial stone placed in 1960) and the surrounding area was rearranged. On Friday June 26, 2009 the path leading to the monument (floored with calcium material and provided with lighting) was named “via 26 Giugno” and a memorial stone of the 50th anniversary with the following inscription was unveiled: Qui dove venerdì 26 giugno 1959 alle ore 17.33 fulminata dalla fatalità cadde la fusoliera del Super Constellation L-1649A Starliner N7313C Trans World Airlines - volo 891 Atene-Chicago e dove verso l’immortalità si librò lo spirito delle settanta vite umane di otto nazionalità (USA - Italia - Francia - Regno Unito - Cile - Germania - Israele - Egitto) nel 50° anniversario la popolazione di Olgiate Olona dedicò via 26 giugno e questa lapide pose Memoria rinnovata della Storia omaggio alle vittime del disastro aereo conforto per il dolore dei loro cari Venerdì 26 giugno 2009 (translation: in this place where the fuselage of the TWA Super Constellation L-1649A Starliner N7313C - flight 891 Athens-Chicago - struck by a fatal lightning crashed on Friday June 26, 1959, 5.33 p.m., here where the souls of seventy mortal lives of eight nationalities (USA - Italy - France - United Kingdom - Chile - Germany - Israel - Egypt) rose over the sky, in the 50th anniversary the population of Olgiate Olona dedicated the street “via 26 Giugno” and placed this stone. Renewed memory of Hystory, tribute to the victims of the plane crash and confort to the suffering of their relatives. Friday June 26, 2009). Furthermore new signage plates showing the location of the memorial were placed in the town.
On Sunday June 26, 2011 a stone in memory of the hundred and eighteen victims of Milan-Linate disaster of October 8, 2001 was unveiled near the monument (in the decennial anniversary) in the presence of their relatives gathered in the Comitato 8 ottobre per non dimenticare committee led by the president Paolo Pettinaroli; the stone contains the following dedication: Onorando le centodiciotto vittime della sciagura di Milano-Linate (8 ottobre 2001) insieme col ‘Comitato 8 ottobre’ la popolazione di Olgiate Olona questa lapide pose segno di memoria e di solidarietà animate da settanta vite immortali qui libratesi in volo il 26 giugno 1959 e il solenne gesto di fratellanza il Presidente della Repubblica premiò conferendo sua medaglia nel 150° dell’unità d’Italia Domenica 26 giugno 2011 (translation: the population of Olgiate Olona together with ‘Comitato 8 ottobre’ placed this memorial stone in honor of 118 victims of Milan-Linate disaster (October 8, 2001) as a sign of remembrance and solidarity animated by seventy immortal lives who here rose over the sky on June 26, 1959. President of Italian Republic rewarded this solemn act of brotherhood with his medal, on the 150th anniversary of Italian Unification. Sunday June 26, 2011).
In February 2012 unknown thieves stole the temporary memorial stone placed on June 26, 1960. The fact was reported to the Police of Olgiate Olona - who conducted the investigations - and what happened is an aggravated theft because the stone is considered handwork exposed to public faith (under Article 625 of Italian Penal Code).
Since 2013 - after the removal of the ceramic tile that was placed on the monument in 1993 - the memorial appears with its original meaning, that is remembering all the seventy immortal lives of June 26, 1959.
In 2016, a restoration work on the memorial monument has removed the deterioration caused by the passing of time, bad weather and atmospheric agents (cracks, detachment of parts, greenish patina, rust): the monument has been plastered, repainted and fitted with a metal cover on the top to prevent the infiltrations in the concrete.
A plant of holly
There is a holly - also commonly called butcher broom - in front of the memorial monument of via 26 giugno street, it stands between the stone in memory of the 50th anniversary of the plane crash and the stone in memory of the victims of Milan-Linate air disaster. It was planted in 2009 and was chosen not by chance, but because it’s an evergreen shrub that has leaves with thorns, and that grows in height and dimensions without being pruned.
The holly is just like the memory of the plane crash of June 26, 1959: it’s always alive and painful, it grows in every season, paradoxically, even if it’s not cultivated.
Documents related to the memorial monument
March 15, 2019 - Press release
June 26, 1993 - Celebration of suffrage
August 2, 1964 - Blessing of the memorial
August 11, 1959 - Municipality Olgiate Olona
Selection of articles related to the memorial monument
La prealpina April 29, 2019
Via il degrado dal memoriale
LegnanoNews.com March 15, 2019
Olgiate O.: Riqualificazione ambientale monumento al disastro aereo
La settimana March 30, 2012
Rubata la lapide al monumento
La prealpina March 29, 2012
Oltraggio alla memoria del 1959. Sparita lapide commemorativa
Il giorno March 28, 2012
Ignoti rubano la lapide a memoria del disastro aereo di Olgiate Olona
L’inform@zione online March 28, 2012
A Olgiate Olona ladri di memoria
La provincia di Varese March 28, 2012
Rubata la lapide del disastro. Un insulto alle 70 vittime
VareseNews.it March 28, 2012
Ignoti rubano la lapide del disastro aereo del ’59
The memorial monument restored for the 57th anniversary of the plane crash
The memorial monument from 1960 until today
February 2013 - The memorial monument
The valley of Olgiate Olona is no longer as on June 26, 1959; also the Olona river flowing just a few meters from the place where the fuselage of TWA aircraft crashed is no longer the same. The rows of poplars and farmlands that witnessed the end of earthly life of the seventy immortal lives of June 26, 1959, are no more existing. Starting from the end of the twentieth century, the natural environment and wildlife - heavily degraded by human and manufacturing settlements - have been rediscovered and restored.
The valley is no longer as in 1959, today there is something more. A water purification plant has been in operation in Olgiate Olona for three decades: it cleanses the waters of the river that once was limpid and abounding in fish and then was made one of the most polluted rivers in the world by discharges of industrial settlements (textile and chemical plants). In 2009 a dam was created in Gurone of Malnate: it governs the course of Olona avoiding disastrous floods. There is the park of “Medio Olona” (www.parcomedioolona.it) - created in 2005 in the valley of six municipalities of Fagnano Olona, Gorla Maggiore, Gorla Minore, Marnate, Olgiate Olona, Solbiate Olona - that promotes the Olona Valley and that carried out a cycle and pedestrian path along the river in 2006 (the first segment being in the territory of Olgiate Olona): the path is teeming with bikers, jogging and nature lovers, and people who just want to walk in the green even in the company of pet friends. It’s a route populated by monuments and historical exhibits, including the degraded remains of the industrial archeology.
(by Alberto Colombo)