An interesting report from the British National Archives documents investigations carried out in January 1948 by Captain C. Hillman and a second investigator referred to only as Mr. Suesserott.

The report contains recommendations for further action, including interviews that might lead to crucial new evidence and war crimes prosecutions.

Much of the Hillman/Suesserott report concerns the execution of four British and two American escaped prisoners of war in Comunanza, likely by members of the “Hettinger Group” of the Brandenberg Regiment.

The rest of the report lists seven instances of killings possibly attributable to the “Bansen Group” of the same regiment. These incidents include the killings of Sidney Seymour Smith, and Robert Alvey Newton and Martin Majeski.

My access to this investigations document is courtesy of researcher Brian Sims. I asked Brian about the “SEE” listing of these war crimes. He answered, “As with most series of UK files each department had their own particular set of references. These were later rationalised when gathered together in the WO series.”

Here is the full report:

The Investigations Report

Report on investigations carried out by Captain C. HILLMAN and Mr. SUESSEROTT covering the period from 8 Jan 48 till 29 Jan 48.

On 8 Jan 48 we proceeded from this H.Q. to investigate the deaths of Allied PoWs who were shot in Italy in May 1944. (SEE/88 and SEE/72). On 10 Jan 48 I contacted the British I.O. [Intelligence Officer] at MUNICH in an effort to get a certain REISCHEL, a former police officer in CARINTHIA who is wanted by the Austrian Authorities for various crimes committed by himself and his men against Austrian Partisans, arrested and extradited. This was met with some difficulty which was finally overcome by Mr. SUESSEROTT and the arrest of REISCHEL was effected approx. 14 days later by German Police acting on U.S. Mil. Govt. [Military Government] instructions. By way of MANNHEIM, FRANKFURT and HANNOVER I reached HAMBURG where I immediately started to make inquiries regarding the whereabouts of the former members of the BRANDENBURG Regt., such WEHLAN, LIEBHARD (or LIPPHART) and UNRAU. I was able to obtain particulars, of several persons whom I later interviewed. With the exception of WEHLAN and Hans ULRICH all persons were not identical with our traces and were set free after a short interrogation.

On 14 Jan 48 I proceeded to LUEBECK, whilst Mr. SUESSEROTT left HAMBURG for MUNICH with Capt. German. At LUEBECK I interviewed the divorced wife of a certain Hans UNRAU regarding her husband’s military history. She stated that her former husband had never served in the Wehrmacht, owing to physical trouble. I also inquired about LIEBHARD (or LIPPHART), former Feldwebel [Feldwebel, equivalent of a staff sergeant] of UNRAU’s Coy [Company], who was reported to be living at LUEBECK. No person with that name could, however, be found and I returned to HAMBURG on the 16 Jan where I interviewed UNRAU Hans, whom I found neither identical nor related with our trace. I also interviewed another man called LIEBHARDt but could not find him identical with the wanted person. Following up another trace I proceeded to BURG where I interviewed another man by the name of UNRAU Willi, but also in this case, UNRAU proved to be not identical with our trace. On 18 Jan I interviewed WEHLAN and obtained a statement from him. WEHLAN, who is employed by a British Intelligence Agency at HAMBURG offered his help and assistance in the investigation of this case. On 19 Jan 48 I interviewed Heinz ROEVEKAMP at BREMEN but he did not appear to know anything about the case. On the 21 Jan I reached MUNICH where I contacted SUESSEROTT who had in the meantime started routine enquiries as to the possible whereabouts of UNRAU Lieutenant FISCHER (SEE/72) and ROMMEL. I subsequently interviewed a girl named Editha UNRAU, who claims to be a near relative of Horst UNRAU. The latter she claimed to be still held as a PoW by Russia. Another interrogation of STIEGLER remained without results.

On the 25 Jan I proceeded from STUTTGART to the area at Schwaebisch-Gmuend, where I interviewed SAUTER who, like all the other persons concerned, claimed to have no knowledge of the matter. On 26 Jan I reinterrogated FISCHER Theo and obtained a second statement of him.

On 27 Jan I interviewed HETTINGER’s wife and questioned her re [regarding] the identity of personalities mentioned by her husband in one of his letters. As a result of this I interviewed a certain Werner Stockmaier at STUTTGART. I confiscated his diary as an entry in it referred to a visit Stockmaier had paid HETTINGER on the 2nd of May 44. (The day of the incident). I have reason to believe that the diary was faked by Stockmaier at the request of Frau HETTINGER. The diary has since been forwarded to the laboratory of the VIENNA C.I.D. to be examined by them.

On 28 Jan I proceeded via MUNICH and MARKT OBERDORF, where I picked up REISCHEL, to SALZBERG from where I left on 29 Jan on my return to base.

[Signed by C. Hillman]
Captain,
War Crimes Investigator.

Brandenberg Regiment

The position regarding the Brandenburgers has now been considerably verified. It transpires that the crimes under investigation formerly attributed to one and the same unit, were in fact committed by two distinct units of the Brandenburg Regiment quite independant of each other, who operated at different times in the same area.

Hettinger Group

This consisted of the 16 Coy. [company] Brandenburg Regiment, with later the addition of the 9 Sept. Bn. [battalion] of the Fascist Militia.

The company moved from SARDINIA to the area of PISA at the end of 1943. It was then transferred to Germany, but returned to the MACERATA area early in March 1944, and was billeted in the old P.O.W. camp at SPORZA COSTA.

On 8 April the company started its move South to the ASCOLI PICENO area. The move was completed by about 15 April, and the company deployed in the area. HQ was at ASCOLI PICENO (Villa Marina). The company now had the 9 Sept Italian Fascist Bn. placed under its command, and became Kamptgruppe HETTINGER. The actual location of the Company HQs or the Kamptgruppe are not known, except for that of Leut. UNRAU which was at COMUNANZA with a detachment under Fw. [Feldwebel] STIEGLER at AMANDOLA.

Only one of the many Brandenburg crimes in this area can now be attributed to Kamptgruppe HETTINGER but of this one there is no doubt.

SEE/88.

The killing of GORDON, DIDCOCK and two unknown British and two unknown American Ps.W. [prisoners of war] at COMUNANZA on the morning of 2 May 1944.

There is evidence that

(i) These men were arrested in the COMUNANZA AMANDOLA area on about 30 April.

STIEGLER the detachment commander at AMANDOLA admits to capturing two Englishmen at about this time.

(ii) All were taken to UNRAU’s HQ at COMUNANZA where they were seen by several people.

(iii) On the following day all were taken in a truck to the Villa Marina at ASCOLI PICENO. This was HETTINGER’s HQ. There is no direct evidence that HETTINGER was actually in the building at this time.

(iv) On leaving the Villa Marina the men had already been sentenced to death. This evidence is given by the German driver of the truck, PFALLER.

(v) They returned to COMUNANZA arriving about 17.00 hours. They were again seen by a number of people.

(vi) At about 05.00 hours the following morning they were shot at the cemetery of COMUNANZA by members of the Fascist Bn. probably commanded by a German N.C.O. [noncommissioned officer].

(vii) On the same day a proclamation was posted in COMUNANZA announcing the execution, and signed by UNRAU. This proclamation is in our possession.

(viii) There is no evidence to show that the Ps.W. were armed when captured and in fact definite evidence in the case of two of them, that they were unarmed. Also in his proclamation UNRAU never mentions the Ps.W. as having been armed. On the evidence this was an illegal execution and therefore a war crime.

[text missing] ____BILITY.

[text missing] ____ 1. Hptmn. [hauptmann, equivalent of a captain] HETTINGER

Whereabouts unknown.

There is little doubt that he gave the order for the execution. The Ps.W. were never sent to any higher H.Q. than his. He might have telephoned a higher H.Q. and received the order from them but this doesn’t seem likely. No direct evidence that he was in his HQ on this particular day. This could probably be established by interrogating some of his subordinates.

2. Leut. UNRAU.

Whereabouts unknown.

Commander of the men who actually carried out the execution. Signed his name on the proclamation announcing it.

He appears to have referred the matter to higher authority i.e. HETTINGER, but must have known this was an illegal shooting.

The German N.C.O. i/c [noncommissioned officer in charge] and Italian members of the firing squad can hardly be held responsible.

WITNESSES.

There are many Italian witnesses to the fact that the crime, as committed. Also the following Germans may give evidence.

Leut. Theo FISCHER – whereabouts unknown.

Located in hospital. Has not been questioned on the Crime.

FISCHER was adjutant to HETTINGER and also a sort of part time Company Commander. May well have been at the HQ when the Ps.W. were brought there. Even if not there at the time, may give indirect evidence that the execution order came from HETTINGER.

Fw. later Leut. STIEGLER. – whereabouts unknown.

Commanded the detachment of UNRAU’s company stationed at AMANDOLA. Admits capturing two Ps.W. about this time and says he sent them to UNRAU’s HQ.

From evidence of Italians, STIEGLER appears to have been a decent man, and on the occasions when he captured Ps.W. to have treated them well.

There is no evidence at all that STIEGLER had any part in the crime. Throughout his interrogation he appears to be telling the truth BUT he denies knowledge that the shooting occurred. It is hard to believe that, although stationed some ten miles form COMUNANZA, the news of what had happened did not at some time reach him. On the other hand it is possible.

Gefr. [Gefreiter, equivalent of a lance corporal] PFALLER – whereabouts known.

Driver of the truck in which the P.W. were taken to ASCOLI and back. Heard that they had been sentenced to death on leaving the Villa Marina.

Uffz. [Unteroffizier, equivalent of a corporal] KOFFLER – whereabouts known.

Escorted the Ps.W. and told PFALLER of death sentences.

There may be many others who can give evidence if traced, but the above named are the most likely ones. In about the middle of May, the Kamptgruppe moved further South into the GRAN SASSO area, but it is not clear whether the Group HQ left ASCOLI.

From then until they repatriated North in the middle of June no crime occurred attributable to them.

In July at CESENA they combined with the other BRANDENBURG Group (to be mentioned later), and this is the only time that the groups had a common Commander.

Previously it had seemed that all the BRANDENBURG crimes committed in the ASCOLI MACERATA area were the work of the HETTINGER Group, but now it appears reasonably certain that only the COMUNANZA case can be laid at their door.

PERSONALITIES.

Hptmn. Rolf HETTINGER
Aged about 32, 1.85m tall, slim build, Brown hair, Brown eyes, 1st and 2nd Class Iron Cross, married, Native of STUTTGART. Had probably been a clerk: in some commercial firm.

Leut. Fritz STIEGLER – in custody.

Gefr. Anton PFALLER – could be obtained as a witness.

Leut. Horst UNRAU,
Aged about 32, 1.70m tall, slim build, Fair hair, married. Probably comes from E. PRUSSIA.

Leut. Theodor FISCHER
In hospital near BADEN.

Leut. Hermann BALDEMANN
Another of HETTINGER’s officers. Might give useful evidence. Whereabouts unknown.

Fw. Josef KOFFLER
An Austrian, aged about 38, 5’6″ tall, slim build, Pale complexion.

The above mentioned appear to be the most likely people to concentrate on.

Bansen Group

This unit of the BRANDENBURG Division is more often referred to as the 2nd Bn. 3rd regiment. Mention of this unit frequently occurs in the investigation reports on the crimes committed in the ASCOLI area. It was formerly supposed that the commander was Hptmn. HETTINGER. It has now been established beyond doubt that HETTINGER’s was a separate unit which operated in the area at a later date. It appears that the BRANDENBURG Crimes, with the exception of the COMUNANZA case were the work of BANSEN’s Group.

Less is know regarding the movements composition and activities of this unit, for to date, no members of it has been located.

The 2nd Bn. 3rd Regiment, was in Southern Italy from the early days of the campaign. In Dec 1943 the Bn. was stationed in the AVEZZANO area. They would appear to have moved to the ASCOLI area in February or early March
1944 and to have had their HQ at the Villa Marina, later to be occupied by HETTINGER. They left here at the beginning of April, it must have been about a week before HETTINGER’s arrival, and went, most probably to PERUGIA.

In July 1944, at CESENA, they were joined by HETTINGER’s Group, and the whole unit was commanded by a Hptmn. PINKER who had replaced BANSEN. Pinker was killed shortly after.

It is however with the period Dec 1943 – March 1944 that we are concerned.

Exactly when PINKER relieved BANSEN is not known, but it is fairly certain that during the period in question, BANSEN was still in command.

The following are the crimes, either certainly or probably committed by the 2nd Bn. 3rd Regiment.

SEE/71.

The killing of MANILALA GURUNG, an Indian N.C.O. at S. IONA, near AVEZZANO on 30 Dec 1943.

There is no direct evidence here, for the killing was done by three unknown men in civilian clothes. However, BANSEN had his HQ in the area and his unit was engaged in hunting for escaped Ps.W. Only interrogation of members of the unit would futher this case.

SEE/106.

The killing of Capt. LAWRENCE at S. GEORGIO on 14 Jan 1944.

Here again there is no direct evidence. The killing was done by unknown Germans in the area occupied by BANSEN’s battalion.

SEE/72.

The killing of BROWN, WHITE, HOLLINGSWORTH, and MOOTIS near MONTALTO on 10 March 1944.

This is a good case and can definitely be brought home to Leut. FISCHER commander of the company of 2nd Bn. Stationed at MONTALTO. This FISCHER should not be confused with the Leut. Theo FISCHER of HETTINGER’s Group. Of the four victims, three were British Ps.W. and one an Allied parachutist agent in civilian clothes. Presumably the Germans would have some justification for shooting him, but none for shooting the Ps.W.

There is evidence to show that

The three Ps.W. were unarmed.

That they were captured early in the morning of 10 March in a different house to that in which MOOTIS, the agent was living.

That all four, together with an Italian boy, were taken to FISCHER’s HQ at MONTALTO.

That they were interrogated by FISCHER and his 2 i/c Leut. ROMMEL.

That they were sentenced to death at this HQ, for one of them on leaving FISCHER’s room announced that they were to die.

That all with the exception of the Italian boy who was released, were shot on the same night on a bridge, near MONTALTO, and their bodies thrown into the river bed.

There is no evidence to show who actually carried out the execution, although the ammunition used was German.

It would appear therefore that FISCHER gave the order for the shooting and that there is a case against him. Also to a lesser extent against Leut. ROMMEL.

SEE/ [This “SEE/” is penciled onto the typed document, but no number is given.]

The killing of NEWTON and MAJESKI, two American ex Ps.W. near S. VITTORIA on 10 March 1944.

These men were captured during a round-up in the area close to MONTALTO, and shot almost immediately.

There is evidence to show that

They were unarmed.

That the troops concerned almost certainly came from the Villa Marina at ASCOLI PICENO.

The description of the officer commanding them fits that of Leut. Hossfeld, an officer of Bansen’s battalion stationed at ASCOLI.

That this officer was aware of the shooting for the men who did it reported to him immediately after.

There is no eye witness to the shooting so the defence may be that they were trying to escape, although this is not borne out by the circumstances.

There is a fair amount of evidence that Leut. HOSSFELD is responsible, but this cannot be established without interrogating some of his unit.

Although MONTALTO is near at hand, there is no evidence to show that FISCHER or ROMMEL were involved. They were at their HQ on 10 March (SEE/72).

SEE/112.

The killing of W.O. BARKER and others at PITO near NORCIA on 11 March 1944.

Early on the morning of 11 March, the village in which W.O. BARKER and two other British Ps.W. believed to be named GROVES and EVANS were living together with some SLAVs, was raided by German troops.

BARKER attempted to escape through a window and was shot dead. The remainder were captured, and later shot on the outskirts of the village. The Germans would be justified in shooting BARKER, but not the others.

There is evidence that

(i) The troops concerned came from the Villa Marina at ASCOLI PICENO.

(ii) There is nothing to show that the victims were armed, but on the other hand no evidence that they weren’t.

(iii) The description of the officer commanding the Germans again fits that of HOSSFELD.

(iv) There was no independent eye witness to the killing.

It seems more than likely that this is again the work of Leut. HOSSFELD who must have carried out this round-up immediately on his return from the round-up in which NEWTON and MAJESKI were killed.

SEE/83.

The killing of Sgmn. [Signalman] SMITH near MONTELPARO on 21 March 1944. SMITH was captured in a farm house by two Germans in civilian clothes. There was a struggle and he hit one of them over the head with a jug before being overpowered.

A little later SMITH and his escort met other Germans in uniform. The story of the jug was recounted whereupon one of the Germans struck Smith to the ground and shot him dead.

There is evidence that

(i) The Germans probably came from MONTALTO or PETRITOLI.

FISCHER’s company was at MONTALTO and may have had a detachment at PETRITOLI.

On the other hand MONTELPARO is in MACERATA province where at that time HETTINGER’s Group operated. HETTINGER’s were not however in PETRITOLI at this time and it seems more likely that the killers were men of FISCHER’s company operating a little North of their area.

(ii) SMITH was not armed.

(iii) There are a number of Italian eye witnesses to the fact that this was a wanton murder.

(iv) FISCHER or ROMMEL would not appear to have been present on this occasion, but the action of their men (if they were theirs) seems to reflect their method of dealing with Ps.W.

Nothing can be done until some member of the unit is interrogated.

SEE/96.

Killing of Drv. [driver] COOPER at MONTOTTONE on 8 March 1944. COOPER was captured by two Germans in civilian clothes. He attempted to escape, was fired at and wounded and then shot dead as he lay on the ground.

There is no direct evidence that the shooting was done by BRANDENBURGER’s. However the area in which the crime was committed was FISCHER’s and the method also smacks of FISCHER.

PERSONALITIES.

Hptmn. BANSEN – not in custody.
Aged about 35, short and robust.
Black hair, Dark eyes, Dark complexion.
May be a prisoner of the Russians.

Leut. FISCHER – not in custody.
Aged about 35, 1.60 tall, Broad build, thin face, Chestnut hair.

Leut. ROMMEL – not in custody.
Aged about 26, 1.85 tall, slim build.

Leut. HOSSFELD – not in custody.
Aged about 28, 6’ tall, slim build, fair hair, wears glasses.

There is some direct evidence against all the above named with the exception of BANSEN.

The following are in custody and awaiting interrogation:

Leut. Theo FISCHER
Uffz. Peter WEBER.

wm-hill_r72

William Percy “Bob” Hill. Bob’s daughter-in-law Gillian feels this photo might have been taken while Bob was a prisoner.

Information for this post is from Gillian Hill, who lives in Beldon, Western Australia.

“My father-in-law was a POW in WW2. He was William Percy Hill, 1st Battalion, Rifle Brigade (Army No. 6917847), Gillian wrote. “He would have probably either gone by the name Bob, or Percy, rather than William.”

Bob was British. His address at wartime was 7 Emanual Road, Northwood, Middlesex UK.

He was captured in the North African Desert at Antelat, Libya, on January 23, 1942.

“Bob had a book on the Afrika Korps, “Gillian wrote. “He has handwritten notes throughout the book. He mentions he was attached to 7th Armoured Brigade as spotter for tanks in a bren gun carrier: ‘Last carrier left out of 44. Only 6 of us left.’

“He also mentions that he met Rommel in a field hospital.

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This is a final post in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives.

I am indebted to researcher Brian Sims for access to the report.

For earlier postings on I.S.9 history, see “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” “I.S.9 History—Air Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Sea Borne Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 1,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 2,I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 3,” “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 4,” “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 5,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 6.”

After the I.S.9 history’s lengthy chapters on operations in Italy, it offers chapters on operations in Yugoslavia, Greece, Austria, Albania, the Balkans (Bulgaria and Roumania, and Central Europe (Hungary and Slovokia).

The history also includes chapters on preventative training, I.S.9 newsletters, and a short section entitled “THE RESULTS AND THE COST.”

Concerning “the cost,” the report states:

“We make no attempt to assess the cost in terms of money. To do so we should require to know the answer to ‘What is the monetary value of human life and the cost of human suffering?’.

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This post is twelfth in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives. Access to this report is courtesy of researcher Brian Sims.

For earlier postings on I.S.9 history, see “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” “I.S.9 History—Air Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Sea Borne Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 1,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 2,I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 3,” “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 4,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 5.”

Here is a transcript of Part 6 of the I.S.9 history’s report on operations in Italy:

Part Six—Conclusion.

Before we leave Operations ITALY, it would be as well, perhaps to write somewhat briefly on one or two of our rather longer range operations and activities.

“Committee of National Liberation” (C.L.N.A.I.) – MILAN [Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale Alta Italia].

Late in 1943, reports began to reach us of fairly large numbers of ex-P/Ws crossing into SWITZERLAND from NORTHERN ITALY. It was thought that the Committee of National Liberation [Comitato di Liberazione Nazionale], whose headquarters were in MILAN, were giving help to those ex-P/Ws.

With a view to further encouraging such help and with a view, also, to encouraging the flow of ex-P/Ws to SWITZERLAND by another means, an Italian officer (BALDO) volunteered to be infiltrated into NORTH ITALY, together with a W/T operator, with the intention of making his headquarters at MILAN.

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This post is eleventh in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives. Access to this report is courtesy of researcher Brian Sims.

For earlier postings on I.S.9 history, see “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” “I.S.9 History—Air Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Sea Borne Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 1,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 2,I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 3,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 4.”

Here is a transcript of Part 5 of the I.S.9 history’s report on operations in Italy:

Part Five—The Final Phase.

April 1st to the final capitulation of the German forces in Italy, 2 May 45.

At the beginning of April 1945, it was obvious that full preparations had been made to conduct an all-out attack finally to defeat the German forces in ITALY. The opening of the attack saw the 8th Army advance up to and through the ARGENTA gap and on to the River PO. 5th Army, after initial stiff resistance, swept through the APPENINES and onwards to VERONA. It was clear that the campaign had developed suddenly and more rapidly than had been anticipated and the enemy was already floundering in chaos. Throughout the NORTH, partizan bands had risen and were offering an additional threat to the German lines of communications, which already had been reduced to the minimum by the Allied Air Forces. It was anticipated that the enemy might attempt to make a stand on the ADIGE Line, but this was quickly turned and the way laid open to the BRENNER PASS and AUSTRIA and to VENICE, UDINE and TRIESTE. At this stage the American 92nd division pushed out columns into the NORTH WEST corner of ITALY and sealed off any escape routes the German 75th Army Corps had contemplated using, and by the end of April it was clear that the enemy would be reduced to complete submission within a matter of days. The final capitulation was signed on 2nd May 45, the enemy having been utterly defeated. Once the 8th Army was through the ARGENTA gap, and 5th Army had captured BOLOGNA, the Germans had been unable to offer any organized resistance.

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This post is eleventh in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives.

The chief task of I.S.9 was the support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. 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.

Access to this report is courtesy of researcher Brian Sims.

See also “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” “I.S.9 History—Air Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Sea Borne Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 1,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 2, and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 3.”

Activities of Field Sections 1, 2, and 5, as well at the Boating Section, are described in this part of the report, and accounts of several named missions are given.

Of particular interest is an account of a Section 5 Lysander aircraft being downed by friendly fire while on a mission, and of the daring rescue of a wounded pilot who was stranded near the frontline by a small craft which landed on a makeshift dry riverbed runway.

The report also touches on I.S.9 (CMF) involvement in field activities in southern France.

The report contains a reference to the “several E & Es, including private soldiers, [who] were so highly thought of by the Italian patriots for their bravery, leadership and devotion to duty, that they were put in command of patriot battalions.” Canadian Pilot Officer John Leon Turner, Royal Canadian Air Force, who was chosen for captaincy of a band of partisans, is an example on this site.

Here is a transcript of Part 4 of the I.S.9 history’s report on operations in Italy:

Part Four—the Italian Winter Campaign,
from 1 Oct 44 until 31 Apr 45

1. General Military Situation.

2. Field Section Activities.

3. Special Operations (Land).

4. I.S.9 activities in the invasion of SOUTHERN FRANCE.

5. Operation “FERRET”.

1. GENERAL MILITARY SITUATION.

From 1st Oct 1944 and onwards through the Winter, and indeed even until the final battles of the Italian campaign, most of the activity in ITALY took place on the ADRIATIC coast, to which the 8th Army had been switched back in July and August 1944. It is doubtful if the Allies could ever have broken the German’s Winter line at CASSINO without the element of surprise achieved by the secret transfer of practically the whole of 8th Army from the ADRIATIC coast to the LIRI Valley in April 1944, so, too, the Allies might never have broken the GOTHIC LINE if Field Marshal ALEXANDER had not transferred the 8th Army back to the ADRIATIC coast in August. Due to the secrecy of this last move, which was carried out under cover of all ways and means of deception, KESSELRING discovered the Allied strength on the ADRIATIC coast too late, and the 8th Army pierced the EAST end of the German line. KESSELRING was forced to weaken his centre to prevent a disastrous break-through on the EAST coast.

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This post is tenth in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives. Research courtesy of Brian Sims.

See also “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” “I.S.9 History—Air Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Sea Borne Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 1,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 2.”

One of the more interesting bits of information in this installment of I.S.9 operations in Italy is news that the leadership of I.S.9 had almost no contact with the Rome Escape Organization, its companion POW assistance and rescue group that was in operation from the Vatican, until after the fall of Rome in June 1944.

Limited contact with the Rome organization during German occupation was made via I.S.9 couriers, but close communication and coordination was not feasible during German occupation.

Here is a transcript of Part 3 of the I.S.9 history’s report on operations in Italy:

Part Three—the Spring and Summer Campaigns 1944

1. The military situation at 1 May and onwards through the Summer of 1944.

2. Field Section Activities.

3. Field HQ.

4. Sea Evacuations.

5. Special Operations (Land)

6. Rome.

1. THE MILITARY SITUATION AT 1 MAY AND ONWARDS THROUGH THE SUMMER OF 1944.

At the end of the Winter 44, it was obvious that the enemy was re-grouping his forces and arranging his defence in order to delay the capture of ROME for as long as possible. They were still entrenched along the GUSTAV LINE which was heavily defended, particularly along the approaches to ROME – (MONTE CASSINO, MONTE CAIRO and the LIRI Valley).

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This post is ninth in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives. Research courtesy of Brian Sims.

See also “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” “I.S.9 History—Air Operations,” “I.S.9 History—Sea Borne Operations,” and “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 1.”

Lieutenant Ruggiero Cagnazzo is mentioned in this part of the history, referred to as Italian agent “CAG,” and the rescue of the “the Generals Party” is described in detail. The initial operational plan for this mission is described in a recent post, “Rescue Plan—Generals and Civilians.”

See also “Rescues along the Adriatic Coastline” I.S.9 rescue details.

Several prisoner accounts on this site mention prisoners’ awareness of the I.S.9 rescue operations.

For instance, a 1980 newspaper article on American serviceman Raymond E. Cox reported, “In the spring of 1944, American paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines and began assembling groups of escaped prisoners who were placed on PT boats and taken to larger ships waiting at sea. Cox missed out of a chance to get out of the country that way, however, and rode a borrowed bicycle to look up with a field army unit after the Poles began pushing the Germans up the Adriatic Coast of Italy and the ‘front’ shifted.”

Tom Ager, when traveling through the countryside near Florence with comrades, said, “Our idea then was to go to the east coast and try and get picked up, because we’d heard rumours that every now and then someone would arrive and pick up people—but how true it was I have absolutely no idea. But we never reached it—it was too heavily fortified.”

And Roland Rakow encountered a British commando while on the run who informed him of a rendezvous. Roland explained, “He had been dropped off behind the lines to contact POWs that they knew were circulating in the hills trying to get back to the Allied lines. He was letting us know that if they could, a boat would pick us up and take us back down the Adriatic and around the lines where the British and Germans were still fighting.” Although Roland narrowly missed a German Patrol along the way, he made it to the shore in time to be rescued.

Below is a transcript of Part 2 of the I.S.9 history’s report on operations in Italy:

Part Two

1. General.

2. The Boating Section, TERMOLI.

3. Field Section Activities.

4. Field Headquarters.

1. GENERAL.

From mid-Nov 43 both 5th and 8th Armies probed the outposts of the German Winter Line and built up their strength for two heavy attacks. 5th Army attacked the German defensive positions on the GARIGLIANO River, and around MONTE CASSINO, and 8th Army attacked and successfully crossed the SANGRO River on the ADRIATIC sector. However, due to the limited forces available and the dreadful Winter conditions, it was impossible to make further progress and these attacks were not exploited.

On January 22nd, 1944, a sea borne landing was made by the U.S. VI Corps at ANZIO behind the main German defence line. This seemed to be the only possible way of ending this stalemate and cause the Germans to withdraw during the Winter. The enemy was quick to sense danger and the four Allied divisions landed at ANZIO were soon opposed by ten enemy divisions commanded by the famous KESSELRING.

I.S.9 (CMF) had every desire to land a section at ANZIO but simply could not do so due to our limited W/E [war establishment] which still remained at the same strength as at 1 Nov 43. It is doubtful if very much could have been achieved, as the concentration of enemy around the ANZIO bridgehead made penetration look impossible. It is interesting to note that a mere handful of evaders ever crossed into the beachhead and a fairly large number were concentrated in the hills not far away. Every inch of the perimeter was thick with troops and mines. It was far better for us, therefore, to leave our sections to operate in areas which did have possibilities, for it was impossible to cover every sector of the front.

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This post is eighth in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives. Research courtesy of Brian Sims.

See also “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” “I.S.9 History—Air Operations,” and “I.S.9 History—Sea Borne Operations.”

Below is a transcript of a chapter in the history that begins to cover operations in Italy:

Operations in Italy (Introduction)

Part One

1. Events immediately prior to the invasion of SICILY on 9 June 1943.

2. The SICILIAN Campaign.

3. The invasion of the ITALIAN mainland, 3 Sept 43.

4. The military situation on 1 Nov 43.

5. The ITALIAN Armistice and general P/W situation in ITALY at 1 Nov 43.

6. Means available to tackle the problem.

1. EVENTS IMMEDIATELY PRIOR TO THE INVASION OF SICILY.

During the long campaigns fought in the M.E., the Western Desert and in NORTH AFRICA, active escape operations had proved themselves well worth while and a certain amount of experience had been gained. In GREECE and the islands it was possible to gain some idea of how far it was possible for an allied country, occupied by the enemy, to continue the struggle through partizan activities and thus offer some form of cover for the support of Allied clandestine organizations. With the fall of TUNISIA in the early summer of 1943, the whole of NORTH AFRICA was cleared of the enemy and everyone looked towards EUROPE. Events moved quickly and when it became known that SICILY was the target for initial assault we were immediately faced with fresh problems. Apart from our very limited resources in personnel and equipment capable of employment in the field with an invading army, we were faced with the problem of operating in an enemy occupied country.

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This post is seventh in a series drawn from a History of I.S.9 (CMF) in the British National Archives. Research courtesy of Brian Sims.

See also “I.S.9 History—Organization,” “I.S.9 History—Tasks,”I.S.9 History—Methods,” “I.S.9 History—Communications,,” “I.S.9 History—Agent Choice and Training,” and “I.S.9 History—Air Operations.”

Below is a transcript of the section of the history detailing rescue efforts and drop of stores and supplies into enemy occupied territory:

Sea Borne Operations

Subject to enemy defences and weather, sea borne operations for landing personnel are not normally very difficult.

The one great stumbling block to pinpoint landings and certainly to evacuation by sea, is pinpoint navigation. Normally vessels must operate during the non moon period and to arrive at a given time at a given pinpoint on a long stretch of coast without distinctive landmarks, is extremely difficult.

Native pilots of course are invaluable, but even these find it difficult to navigate on a dark night to one given pinpoint on a long straight stretch of coastline. Given the use of naval craft fitted with the latest radar, the problem is less difficult, but where schooners, fishing boats, etc., are used, pinpoint navigation is difficult. One answer, under these conditions, is the use of a homing beacon tuned to a radio compass fitted to the vessel to be used. This homing beacon means, of course, an extra piece of equipment with necessary batteries and aerial which must be carried by the shore party.

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