An archaeological dig on the Amalfi coast has revealed the first luxury villa to be built in the idyllic fishing village of Positano, a popular haunt of today's rich and famous.
Two storeys of a first century millionaire's abode have been found under a church which was hidden for 2,000 years by the same volcanic eruption that devastated Pompeii in 79AD.
During renovation work on the church's crypt last summer, roof beams were found poking up just a few inches down.
They revealed an enormous building that certainly would have belonged to an important person in Imperial Rome.
A subsequent initial dig by archaeologists unearthed, about 6ft below the ground, two storeys of remarkably brightly-coloured wall frescoes and marble mosaics of mythical characters. They had been perfectly preserved.
Last 'Christmas Truce' soldier dies:
The last veteran of the Christmas truce during the First World War died in his sleep yesterday, aged 109.
Alfred Anderson, who was born in 1896, was 18 on December 25, 1914, when British and German troops climbed out of their trenches and crossed no-man's land to shake hands, sing carols and share cigarettes.
The soldiers famously played football together, kicking around empty bully-beef cans and using steel helmets as goal posts. The unauthorised truce spread across much of the 500-mile Western Front, where more than a million soldiers were encamped.
Recalling the truce last year, Mr Anderson said: "All I'd heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machinegun fire and distant German voices.
"But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted 'Merry Christmas', even though nobody felt merry.
Another military obituary:
AS A havildar (sergeant), Umrao Singh was the only non-commissioned officer of either the Royal Artillery or the Indian Artillery to be awarded the Victoria Cross in the Second World War. Forward observation officers are frequently at great personal risk when in exposed positions so as to direct artillery fire in support of armoured or infantry units. But Singh won his award for valour in what all gunners regard as their near-sacred duty — defence of the guns.
The 33 Mountain Battery, Indian Artillery, in which Havildar Umrao Singh was a field-gun detachment commander, was subjected to a sustained bombardment from Japanese 75mm guns and heavy mortars for one and a half hours on December 16, immediately before his gun position was attacked by two companies of Japanese infantry. Twice wounded by grenades during the first assault, Singh fought off the enemy with the detachment’s Bren light-machinegun while directing the rifle fire of the gun crew.
The second Japanese attack killed all the crew other than two members and himself, but was nevertheless beaten off. When the third assault came only a few rounds of small-arms ammunition remained and this was quickly used. With his last shot gone Singh seized a “gun bearer” — a heavy crowbar-like rod used for turning the gun trail — and closed with the attacking Japanese. He led the two surviving gun-crew members in hand-to-hand fighting until they were overwhelmed. He was seen to strike down three enemy infantrymen before falling under a rain of blows to the head.
Six hours later, after a counter-attack recovered the battery position, Singh was found unconscious beside his field-gun and almost unrecognisable from head wounds. Ten Japanese dead lay around him.
The citation for the award of the Victoria Cross read: “Havildar Umrao Singh set a supreme example of gallantry and devotion to duty.” His gun was still fit for firing and was in action again that day. He received his VC from King George VI at Buckingham Palace on October 15, 1945.