A modern-day disaster befell the ruins of Pompeii during World War II, when they were struck by Allied bombs.

As part of Operation Avalanche to liberate southern Italy in the autumn of 1943, Allied forces fought to dislodge German soldiers and disrupt their resupply routes. Important targeted roads, railways, bridges, and overpasses were located near the archaeological site of Pompeii, whose ruins were badly damaged by a series of bombings carried out by American and British fighters. Significant destruction occurred throughout the site, and some of Pompeii's most famous monuments, as well as its museum, were struck. After the war, many of the structures were rebuilt. Ironically, the recent, highly publicized collapse of some Pompeian buildings did not involve ancient structures but rather post–World War II reconstructions.

Interactive Feature: Compare images of Pompeii after World War II with contemporary views »
American B-25 Mitchell Bombers Flying Past Vesuvius / Unknown