Bill serenaded his comrades using a beautiful black Scandalli accordion that he bartered from a starving Italian family in exchange for food. [...]
Le Marche another Italy
Le Marche encompasses everything one would want from Italy. Incredible countryside from the Sibillini mountains to the glorious coastline, classic landscapes, castellated hilltops towns, culture, art, music, indoor, outdoor and watersports, wonderful wildlife, fun, delicious food and wines, quality fashions and footwear, museums, churches, culture, history – so much to do and see. Experience life to its fullest – experience Le Marche!
Curated by Mariano Pallottini
Bill serenaded his comrades using a beautiful black Scandalli accordion that he bartered from a starving Italian family in exchange for food. [...]
Motorcycle dispatch rider Bill was the corporal in Alf’s unit when they were stationed outside the town of Castelfidardo - the world capital of accordion builders.
Bill - a talented musician who had played organ in his local cinema before being called up - was impressed by Alf’s Settimio Soprani accordion and wanted an instrument of his own.
The pair learned of an Italian family who owned a Scandalli Butterfly Model and had a whip-round amongst the soldiers to get enough food to exchange for it.
Alf said: “Bill went round the whole company to get what he could in the way of spare food and anything else that might swing the bargain....
Sidney Seymour Smith an escaped POW from a local camp in the region of Le Marche Italy, was remembered at the unveiling of a monument to his memory and to all escaping POW's in Italy and to those brave Italians that helped shelter, feed and cloth them. [
Sidney was thirty four years old when he was recaptured on a quite road here and shot in cold blood by a member of the SS in 1944. It was recognized as a war crime after an inquiry and the evidence suggests that the SS captain emptied a full magazine from a machine gun at point blank range into Sidney, killing him instantly. [...]
In 1943 Captain Nebbia spearheaded an operation to save the fishing fleet of San Benedetto del Tronto, which was under threat of seizure by the Germans, who were due for arrival in the town the next morning. On completion of the mission, Radio Bari broadcast news of the successful event, today described in Italian history books as ‘Operazione Nebbia. [...]
Many of the stories on this site concerning the protection of escaped POWs describe the brave actions of the contadini, the poor farmers of central Italy. But people from other strata of Italian society were also involved in the rescue of escapees and evaders. [...]
Four or five days after the prison breakout at Camp 59 in Servigliano - on September 14, 1943 - Gino and his family were approached at their home by three Englishmen. With gestures, while talking in English, they indicated they needed food and shelter.
In the weeks after the Armistice, the Germans took full control of the territory. They conducted inspections along the road systems and raids into private houses to capture the escaped Allied soldiers.
When fascists and Germans found escaped POWs in some of the houses, those houses were burned down. In order to protect his family, Gino, then 17 years old, dug a cave-shelter for the men in a steep slope in his family’s woods. [...]
This news article from the London area Ham&High newspaper is provided by Anne Copley. It’s the touching story of a contact made between the family of POW Sydney Swingler, known to the Italians as “Antonio,” and his Italians protectors, the Antognozzi family.
Antonio was sheltered by the Antognozzi family in the Italian village of Montelparo, where they still live, before eventually making it back across Allied lines and returning to his Kentish Town home.
Sydney’s son Colin Swingler, 64, one of four siblings born at the former family home in Highgate Road after the war, said he was delighted to make contact with the Antognozzi family, who had risked their lives to look after his father. [...]
He said: “If the Germans or Italian fascists had found dad, they could have been killed along with him.
“My family owes them a great debt – if my father had not come back, none of us would be here.”
Farmers, villagers and Priests in Le Marche, in the surrounding area of the prison camps, helped the allies on the run risking of their lives at the end of World War II. Old and New documents prove the value of people of great Christian piety. Servigliano, Montelparo, Monte San Martino the villages involved, click on the photo to read more
For almost 70 years locals have devotedly laid wreaths at the spot in a village in central Italy where an escaped British prisoner of war was shot in the head by German soldiers during the Second World War.
But the identity of the Tommy whose body was found in a lane near the village of Montelparo, Fermo province, on March 21, 1944 had remained a mystery until last year.
Then researchers uncovered an official summary of an inquiry by the Special Investigation Branch of the Royal Military Police in 1945, which identified the dead man as Scots soldier Sidney Seymour Smith, who served with the Royal Corps Of Signals.
Now the London-based Monte San Martino Trust, a educational bursary-awarding charity supported by former prisoners of war, wants to replace an iron cross that currently marks the spot with a memorial stone and is trying to trace descendants. [...]
This is a diary covering the Freedom Trail, based on Servigliano in the Tenna Valley, from September 4th-9th, 2013, commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Armistice with Italy, the event that precipitated the mass break-out of Allied servicemen from prisoner of war camps in Italy. The Trail was organised jointly by the Escape Lines Memorial Society and the Monte San Martino Trust.
“A Syrian photojournalist, a very famous Italian photojournalist (being filmed for his own life story), a Canadian woman seeking information about her father, and the CEO of the UK Red Cross mingled with Italian students, retired soldiers, a Jack Russell dog and others with various connections to Italy at the start of three days of walking through the Southern Marche countryside.
“The reason? to commemorate the date on which Italians signed the Armistice and many of the fathers and grandfathers of those taking part escaped singly or en masse from prison camps across Italy. [...]
Neil Torrsell passed over the rugged, beautiful terrain of Le Marche during his nine months “on the run” in 1943–44. [...]
Let’s just say we lived from day to day. We didn’t know if we would come back alive or not. I may have mentioned before, this German SS patrol stopped near where I was staying. There were two American POWs staying there. The Germans stripped their house, set the house on fire, took the two Americans down to the river bottom, made them dig their own grave shafts...
Can you tell me about the Italians you stayed with—their food, cheesemaking, or baking bread?
I don’t know the exact process they used to make cheese. It was made out of goat’s milk. I don’t know whether they got it down to a certain degree [of temperature], or a certain consistency. Then they put it into little round wooden bowls, about five or six inches across. And then there was [another] stage—I couldn’t tell you how long the process was—but when it was first edible it was real mild, and as it aged it got stronger—like all cheese does. It wasn’t surprising to find a worm in it, so we always washed it carefully before we took a bite.
They were very thrifty as far as getting out and foraging for themselves, and the lived on a very limited diet. We had so much macaroni that I couldn’t eat macaroni for two years once I got back to the States. But now it doesn’t bother me.
What about their bread—or their pizzas—what we think of as Italian food?
Their so-called pizza was a very thin dough baked in their outside ovens. They didn’t have any meat or sausage to put on it, so they had garlic or peppers—something like that—or a little grated cheese to give it a little flavor. It wasn’t bad tasting, but of course in this country we are a little spoiled with all the stuff we put on the crust.
They were similar in size to the pizza you buy in the store here, with thin crust, but there was very little seasoning on top of it. That was because they couldn’t get it.
They were like share croppers.
Most of the places we stayed the horse, oxen, pigs, and sheep in the stable.
Did I tell you about taking a bath? We asked for water for a bath, and they told us nobody takes a bath in the winter. But we did talk them into heating hot water that we could bathe in it. The thing is everyone in the house smelled the same so they couldn’t tell the difference!
You had also mentioned in the other interview that you had a green salad that had snails in it.
Yes, we had salad of light greens and a little garlic and onion. And then the kids brought over a big snail shell. They started laughing and asked if I knew what I was eating, and I said no. At that stage in the game, you eat anything thing that is put in front of you.
I’ll say one thing for them, the breads they made—unleavened breads, that were made without yeast—they were the best-tasting breads when they came out of the oven. They were excellent—whole-grain bread.
Did I tell you about getting salt? I’m not sure how far away it was from where I was staying, but the women would go with big water jars on top of their heads to these salt wells, and then boil the water down to get the salt.
It was an amazing thing that these women would put a crown of braided material on top of their head, and the jar of water would be on top of that. And they would walk along and not spill a drop. They would stop and talk with their neighbors, not bothered at all by the weight on top of their head.
Was the well near the coast?
No, we were about 20 or 30 miles inland.
You mentioned that you had polenta there.
Yeah. It was basically cornmeal mush. A board was put on the table, and when [the polenta] was done cooking it was put on the board and everyone helped themselves to what was in front of them.
At one point you experienced an earthquake, right?
Yeah. That’s the weirdest feeling. First of all I heard rumbling in the distance and I thought it was artillery fire. Then all of a suddenly the ground was shaking and buildings were shaking. The Italian women were praying to high heaven. Fortunately, it didn’t do any structural damage where we were at, but I know it shook the buildings.
No one got hurt that you were aware of in that area?
Not where we were, no.
You were with one of the families at Christmastime?
The husband gave me some lire as a Christmas present, and also some kind of fruit. I can’t tell you what it was. It was about the size of an apple. It had the color of an apple, but it wasn’t an apple. I can recall the taste of it, but it was good—that’s all I can tell you.
We had a big dinner meal for Christmas.
The Battle of Ancona was a battle involving forces from Poland serving as part of the British Army and German forces that took place from 16 June–18 July 1944 during the Italian campaign in World War II. The battle was the result of an Allied plan to capture the city of Ancona in Italy in order to gain possession of a seaport closer to the fighting so that they could shorten their lines of communication. his Adriatic port, like that of Livorno on the Tyrrhenian Sea, was needed to allow the Allied forces to advance further north, in that the ports of Naples and Brindisi were too far from the front to allow regular supplies to the troops. The Polish 2nd Corps was tasked with capture of the city on 16 June 1944, accomplishing the task a month later on 18 July 1944. On 16 June, Polish II Corps under general Władysław Anders— which had been taken into British 8th Army reserve after its efforts in the Battle of Monte Cassino—was brought forward once more to relieve British V Corps and tasked with the capture of Ancona. On 17 June, General Anders was given command of the Adriatic sector of the Italian theatre.
The Monte San Martino Trust was founded in 1989 by J. Keith Killby, a former prisoner of war in Italy, together with other veterans of the Second World War. The Trust awards English-language study bursaries to Italians, aged 18 to 25, in recognition of the courage and sacrifice of the Italian country people who rescued thousands of escaping Allied PoWs after the Armistice in 1943. The Trust is a registered charity and is supported by PoWs, and the second and third generations of their families, many of whom keep in touch with Italian families who gave refuge to the escapers.The bursaries are usually granted for four weeks’ study at language schools in Oxford and London. The students come from schools in Italian regions where prisoners were on the run. The Trust relies on donations to fund these bursaries, and is currently running a £1m Appeal to secure their long-term funding. Good progress is being made, with more than £420,000 raised so far. Building on funds already in the bank at the outset of the Appeal in November 2011, we are now three-quarters of the way towards our £1m target.
As a former Second World War prisoner in Italy, J. Keith Killby formed the charity in order to reward, in a small way, the descendants of those Italians who gave courageous and generous assistance to the thousands of Allied servicemen on the run from PoW camps following the Armistice in September 1943.Keith Killby was captured near Tobruk in 1942 but was returned to Allied Lines after his ambulance unit had cared for wounded German soldiers. After the advance from El Alamein, he volunteered to be a parachutist and joined the SAS near the Suez Canal. Sent to Sardinia by submarine, he was captured and taken to the mainland.
After the Armistice, he escaped together with 2,000 other prisoners from a camp at Servigliano, near Monte San Martino in the Marche. An honorary citizen of Monte San Martino, he has been made a Cavaliere Ufficiale of the Italian Republic and awarded an OBE.
Since its foundation, the charity has received strong backing from many former PoWs and their families who support the Trust in its determination to put its student bursaries for young Italians on a permanent footing.
The Trust also supports Freedom Trail walks in Italy. These run along routes taken by escaping prisoners aiming to reach Allied armies in south Italy,
The Trust and the WW2 Escape Lines Memorial Society (ELMS) are jointly organising a Freedom Trail in beautiful hill country at the head of the Tenna Valley in the Marche, north-east Italy. It is timed to conclude with celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Armistice with Italy in September 1943 and is intended to be the first of annual autumn trails in the area.
Arrival and departure days, linked to bus transport arranged by the organisers from Pescara and Ancona airports to the walks’ base at Servigliano, are on Wednesday September 4th and Monday September 9th.
TO CONTACT THE MONTE SAN MARTINO TRUST: EMAIL email@example.com