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.
- The story
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,
- FREEDOM TRAIL – TENNA VALLEY, MARCHE (September 4th-9th 2013)
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.