alberto-orlandi_r72

Alberto Orlandi

On this website, there are several posts concerning Italians who served as agents with Allied I.S.9 operations (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force) during the Second World War.

The case of Lieutenant Alberto Orlandi warrants special attention. Below is the description of his background from the I.S.9 files. Following that is a letter of recommendation from U.S. Army Air Force Captain R.W.B. Lewis for an American Bronze Star Medal for the Italian.

An I.S.9 response to the request follows his letter.

And, last of all, is the text of an unsigned memo of recommendation for a British decoration of M.B.E. [Member of the Order of the British Empire] for Lieutenant Orlandi. Although this letter does not bear a date, it does refer to the lieutenant’s service through July 1945 (whereas the Captain Lewis’ letter is dated January 1945.

I do not know if Alberti Orlandi in fact received either of these honors.

My thanks to Brian Sims for sharing this material from the British National Archives.

Alberto Orlandi

Lieutenant, Italian Army

Born November 2, 1919 at Citta della Pieve, Perugia Province

Alberto was educated at Citta della Pieve and Siena. He volunteered for service with the Italian Army in 1937 and served three years with the infantry, during which he was stationed on the French front. In 1940 he volunteered as a parachutist, received a course in parachutist training, and performed eleven drops. He served against the partisans in Croatia, and also in Sicily and Southern Italy during Allied invasion. Late in September 1943 he reported for service to Badoglio’s army.

In October 1943 Alberto volunteered for intelligence service and joined I.S.9 at Bari on December 2, 1943. He was employed by Captain R.W.B. Lewis (No. 5 Field Section, I.S.9) on January 12, 1944. He served in the capacity of an Italian staff officer. As he was attached to I.S.9 from the Italian Army, his pay was from the Italian Army.

Read the rest of this entry »

The following memorandum issued in April 1945 by A British deputy military secretary outline the types of awards that are available to foreign civilians.

Thanks to Brain Sims for access to this document, which is from the British National Archives.

CONFIDENTIAL

Allied Force Headquarters
April 11, 1945

Subject: Honours and Awards

Awards to Foreign Civilians

1. There are now 4 classes of Awards open to foreign civilians, as follows:-

(a) George Medal for outstanding and exceptional gallantry.

(b) OBE [Officer of the Order of the British Empire], MBE [Member of the Order of the British Empire], and BEM [British Empire Medal] for great gallantry or service.

(c) King’s Medal for gallantry or service.

(d) Certificate No. 17 (otherwise known as commendation).

Citations are required for all of the above.

2. The King’s Medal is a recent institution and is divided into 2 categories:-

(a) For courage in the cause of freedom, and

(b) For service to the cause of freedom.

These medals will not be struck until the end of the War, but ribbons will be made available at a later date.

3. Italians are not yet eligible for any of the Awards mentioned in paras. [paragraphs] above, but suitable recommendations may be forwarded and will be sent to the War Office to be held pending further decisions.

[signed]
G. H. Hunt,
Colonel,
A/Deputy Military Secretary.

The following letter recommending formal decoration of an Italian youth was sent to British authorities from “the field” of Italy in January 1944 by Captain B. G. McGibbon-Lewis, The Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment.

The letter is a moving tribute to 18-year-old Franco Scoletta, who valiantly served I.S.9 (‘A’ Force) in escaped POWs rescue operations.

The document, from the British National Archives, is courtesy of Brian Sims.

Franco Scoletta

This Italian boy of 18 has worked with me since September 15th, 1943, up until December 1st, 1943. I picked him, whilst escaping from German-occupied ITALY, on the train from ANCONA to PESCARA. He told me he was disgusted with ITALY and the inhabitants and his one object was to reach and work for the BRITISH in whatever capacity they saw fit. When I was enrolled as a temporary member of ‘A’ Force I brought him with me. I arranged he should be paid 2000 Lire a month and he could receive 1000 Lire per P/W as arranged for all ITALIAN agents on operation SIMCOL. He has refused to accept any of this on the grounds that his motives are not financial. He accompanied Major McKEE, M.C. and myself on our first operation for 14 days and proved himself to be of invaluable assistance. He showed no fear when crossing the lines and was willing to do anything we asked of him. Frequently he had to approach ‘doubtful’ ITALIANS and he never refused any order or request given him. On our return we went to GULIONESE to pull thorough the lines the P/Ws we had left on the other side. SCOLETTA went through again and was responsible for some twenty to thirty getting through safely. He was captured by the GERMANS with 5 P.O.Ws, and by driving into a WADI not only escaped himself but enabled the P/Ws to do so as well. He then returned with a sprained knee to me with four P/Ws. Within two days he was back the other side again and succeeded in liberating the remains of an American Bomber crew. On each of these occasions he brought back Military Information of great use which I handed on to 36 Brigade, this included details of gun positions and mines on that front.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is the fifth part in a series of posts concerning Italians who served as agents for I.S.9 (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force).

I.S.9′s chief mission was support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory. I.S.9 was a division of M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

I am grateful to researcher Brian Sims for allowing me access to his collection of British National Archives I.S.9 files.

terrizzano-ezio_r72

Ezio Terrizzano

Born November 2, 1913 at San Bartolomeo del Cervo, Imperia Province. Ezio was a lieutenant in the Italian army (artillery) in Libya until April 1942, and thereafter he served in Italy until the armistice. He spoke French and English fairly well. (He could make himself understood).

Ezio was attached for duty with I.S.9 by the Italian High Command. He was employed by Field Section No. 1 in the capacity of liaison discipline at the Bari headquarters.

He ceased to be employed on May 22, 1945, as his services were no longer required due to conclusion of hostilities. He proceeded to Milan on May 23 for 21 day’s leave, after which he was to report to the Italian authorities.

Read the rest of this entry »

Ham-and-High-14-Aug_r72

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.

Family trace Italians who sheltered their father from fascists
Brave peasants risked their lives to help soldier Sydney

By Tom Marshall
Ham&High, London, UK
hamhigh.co.uk

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The familes of a Second World War soldier from Kentish Town and the Italian peasants who risked their lives to save him have been united after 70 years.

The children of Sydney Swingler have made contact with the Antognozzi family, who protected their father for several months during the war, after an amateur historian and the Ham&High helped bring them together.

Sydney was among the thousands of fighters who fled prisoner-of-war camps after Italy signed an armistice with the Allies in September 1943, then took refuge with Italian peasants as the countryside remained in turmoil.

Delighted

He 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

cemetery-comunanza-1_r72

Exhibit G.4 in a report of the British military’s Special Investigation Branch inquiry into the execution of six servicemen at Comunanza, Italy, is captioned, “Photograph at Comunanza showing alleged scene of crime.”

cemetery-comunanza-2_r72

Exhibit G.2 is captioned, “Photograph showing position of Communal Grave where six deceased were originally buried.”

This post contains a draft report of the British Special Investigation Branch (SIB) into the deaths of six Allied servicemen (four English and two American) in Comunanza on May 2, 1944.

The creation of the draft followed an extensive investigation by the SIB. It traces a likely scenario of events that preceded the killings, and speculates on who the soldiers were.

After the draft report is an October 1944 special report of the Graves Registration Unit (GRU). The six bodies were removed by the GRU from the vault where they had been buried and carefully examined in an attempt at identification.

More information on the Comunanza incident and the activities of the Brandenburg Division will follow on this site. Once again I am grateful to researcher Brian Sims for drawing my attention to these and other important documents from the British National Archives.

See also “The Brandenburgers—War Crimes Investigations.”

The Draft Report

SECRET. DRAFT.

H.Q., ‘A’ Group, 60 Section.
Special Investigation Branch,
c/o A.P.M’s Office, 61 Area,
Central Mediterranean Forces.

SUBJECT:- Alleged War Crime against six allied escaped prisoners of war at COMUNANZA on 2 May, 1944.

Two of the deceased believed to be:
(a) No.2935269, Pte. GORDON, Charles.
(b) No.T/3052152, Dvr. DIDCOCK, James.

Read the rest of this entry »

The following letter from General H. R. Alexander to commanders and men of the German army is from the British National Archives.

Unfortunately, it is undated. However, as the last of the atrocities listed in it allegedly occurred on October 2, 1944, it is apparent the letter was written sometime after that date and before the end of the war in Europe.

My access to the document is courtesy of British researcher Brian Sims.

Here is the full text of the letter:

WARNING to German officers and men

By General Sir H. R. Alexander, Commander-in-Chief, Allied Armies in Italy.

1. Reports of atrocities – killings of hostages, mass reprisals against innocent civilians, torturings and the like – committed by German troops in Northern Italy are becoming daily more frequent.

2. I therefore call the attention to all German officers and men in Northern Italy, who otherwise might give or carry out orders to commit such atrocities, to the following:

3. The fact that in, for example, a certain village Italian patriots – whether or not wearing uniforms, arm-bands or other recognizable insignia – may have attacked German soldiers is not, according to the Jus Gentium or any other Legal or moral code, a justification for collective reprisals upon the population of the village, nor for the killing or persons without due legal trial and conviction.

Read the rest of this entry »

derry-article-1

Recently my friend Brian Sims sent me an article that was published last year in the Newark Advertiser, which serves the UK’s Newark-on-Trent area.

The article describes a local interest in the establishment of a lasting memorial to Newark-born Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Derry, who, with Irish priest Hugh O’Flaherty, ran the escaped-POW rescue effort known as the Rome Escape Line out of the Vatican.

The Rome Escape Line rescue efforts were run independently of the I.S.9 rescue efforts, which were mainly conducted along the Adriatic coastline of Italy and east of the Apeninnine Mountains.

The following paragraph from the official I.S.9 history (see “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 3“) in the British National Archives, confirms the minimal contact that existed between these two organizations:

“By far the most interesting outcome of our entry into ROME was gaining contact with the Escape Organization which had existed during the German occupation under the direction of Major S.I. DERRY (now Lt-Col. S.I. DERRY, DSO, MC, GS01, G-2 (P/W), AFHQ). This particular organization was easily the largest non-I.S.9 unit engaged in the care and maintenance and possible escape of E & Es. Although we were well aware of the existence of this organization, and had made successful attempts to gain contact during the German occupation, it was unfortunate that we were unable to encourage a closer connection in the early days. We sent an Italian officer courier into ROME and he returned with a reasonably accurate description of the situation, and had personally contacted Father O’FLAHERTY of the Vatican. We sent him back almost immediately, in an attempt to connect ourselves more closely with Major DERRY. Unfortunately, our courier was unable to obtain an interview with Major DERRY and was very naturally treated with suspicion. It was not until the final entry into the city and our contact with Major DERRY that we both realised the pity in that real contact was not established between I.S.9 and the Rome Escape Organization during the German occupation.”

Although the Newark Advertiser article mentions various possibilities for the memorial, Brian more recently told me the actual memorial will be a large painted portrait of Sam Derry, to be hung in the Newark Town Hall.

A dedication ceremony is being planned for this fall.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is the fourth part in a series of posts concerning Italians who served as agents for I.S.9 (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force).

I.S.9′s chief mission was support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory. I.S.9 was a division of M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

I am grateful to researcher Brian Sims for providing access to his collection of I.S.9 files from the British National Archives for this series.

stasolla-antonio_r72

Antonio Stasolla

Born January 28, 1920 at Santeramo (Bari Province).

Antonio was a bricklayer at Castellaneta. He was called up to serve in the Army on March 12, 1940. He served in the infantry and joined the parachutists.

He held a parachutist’s Tessera di Riconoscimento (identity card).

He served in Italy, Croatia (for two months), and Sicily. At Armistice, he was in Calabria with the Nembo Division of the Italian Army. He volunteered for A Force service, and joined N Section at Palese in the capacity of para-guide on December 11, 1943.

He was issued a false Carta d’Identita for Foggia in the name Antonio Stasi, muratore.

He ceased to be employed on May 15, 1945 because of lack of work due to conclusion of hostilities. He was paid off by Field Headquarters and sent to Bari on May 16, and then to proceed to Taranto for four weeks leave. Thereafter he was to report to the Italian authorities.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is the third part in a series of posts concerning Italians who served as agents for I.S.9 (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force).

I.S.9′s chief mission was support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory. I.S.9 was a division of M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

Thanks to researcher Brian Sims for access to his archives of I.S.9 files from the British National Archives.

petrucci-ernesto_r72

Ernesto Petrucci

Born on February 27, 1915 in San Marcello.

Ernesto was a woodcutter at Abetone. He was called to the Italian Army in 1938, but left the army in 1939 because of a knee injury. He joined “Gino Bozzi” Brigade (a unit, apparently operating in the Apennines of Pistoia, of the “Garibaldi” partisan brigades)—Ospedale—in May 1944.

Ernesto had intimate knowledge of the region from Modena to Pistoia. He spoke French. He held a true identity card for Abetone.

He was employed by Captain B. G. McGibbon-Lewis, No. 5 Field Section, as an agent/guide on January 10, 1945. His name during employment was Didon. No false identification was issued to him.

He ceased to be employed on April 27, 1945 because his services were no longer required due to the Allied advance. After being paid off, he returned to his home.

Read the rest of this entry »

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers