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Earlier this year, I received from Trish Harper photocopies of a calendar booket her father was given when he was interned at Camp 59. Charles Kenneth Simmons used the printed calendar pages to mark off the days as they passed, and he used blank spaces to record notes about activities in the camp and rumors of war that reached the prisoners.
Simmons used the pages marked for “MEMORANDUM” to list names and addresses of fellow servicemen.
Altogether he recorded addresses of:
61 American servicemen
Four English servicemen
Two Scottish servicemen
One Australian serviceman
Six Italian families
I will post all of the addresses on this site as I transcribe them and confirm their accuracy as best I can (the handwriting is not always clear).
Interestingly, the summer 2008 online newsletter of the UK National Ex-Prisoner of War Association contains an article about two prisoners (Maurice Newey and David John Jenkins) from Italian Camp 54 at Fara in Sabrina who had been given copies of the same calendar book.
According to the newsletter, the calendar, entitled “Christmas 1942,” was a gift of Pope Pius XII. The booklet is composed of 48 pages plus a cardboard cover. Pages 26-48 contain hymns and Christmas carols. The booklet also contains quotations of papal encouragement and a prayer by Cardinal John Henry Newman (“Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom”).
British serviceman William George Wales served in the Royal Sussex Regiment, 1st Buffs. He was captured in North Africa on December 15, 1941 and sent to the prison camp in Servigliano.
From Italy he was transferred to Germany, where he was interned at Stalag 7-A Moosburg, Stalag 11-A Altengrabow, Stalag 11-B Fallingbostel, and Commando 1011 Wolfenbüttel.
William was liberated on April 23, 1945.
Later in life he was consulted during the making of the film “Von Ryan’s Express.” He died in 1980.
This photo of Henry (at left) and Richard Kane was taken on the boardwalk in Jacksonville, FL while the brothers were on a pass during training. Henry’s son George commented, “Ironic that the photo depicts exactly what was to come several months later.”
Memories of WW II Continue For Kane Brothers
December 23, 1986, The Sentinel, New Windsor, New York
Editors note: This is part two of a two-part feature. The first part appeared in the December 18 issue of The Sentinel.
by Linda Fehrs
Henry and Richard Kane are brothers who did many things together including joining the army in World War II. After fighting many battles, mostly in northern Africa they were captured together by the Axis powers and spent well over two years in prisoner of war camps in Europe.
After being transferred from camp to camp they had ended up in Palermo, staying there for about a year. They spent their time reading and playing games. The Red Cross sent them packages regularly, but life in the camp was not of the highest quality. The place was rampant with bedbugs and the men had body lice. The meals were sparse and the conditions less than pleasant to say the least.
One of the goals of captured soldiers in time of war is to escape. And this was what Henry and Richard Kane, along with other American soldiers, did. They managed to blow a hole in the wall of their camp and escape through some tunnels they had been digging.
Richard and Henry Kane, 1941
Brothers Recall Wartime Memories
December 18, 1986, The Sentinel, New Windsor, New York
Editors note: This is part one of a two-part feature. The second part will appear in our next issue.
by Linda Fehrs
It was while they were working on their family’s apple farm on Drury Lane that they decided to join the Civilian Conservation Corps. Henry and Richard Kane were just young boys then and eager to help their country.
Every eligible male it seemed back then wanted to help out and the CCC was a good place to start. They earned $30 a month and sent $20 of that home.
Henry worked at a Gypsy moth camp in Peekskill, 8 hours a day, and later transferred to Albany. Richard worked as a tree climber near West Point.
John Everett, Jr. e-mailed me last week that his sister, Sandra Everett Barnett, reminded him of another bit of information their father had shared with her, but that was not included in his written story:
“My Dad had said that food was scarce in the camp, and once more the Italian families came through for them. Apparently, a couple of near-by farmers would toss a few potatoes over the fences around the barracks at night for the soldiers. He said that it was about the only food they had sometimes.”
After escape from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943, Armie Hill and Ben Farley traveled south together and reached the British 8th Army, near Termoli, on October 15.
During this month-long journey the soldiers were assisted by a number of Italians.
In his two recorded accounts of the escape, Armie describes the help they received from the Bianchini family.
Two Bianchini addresses are recorded in his address book:
Porta Romana N18
Armie explained that the Bianchinis “…owned a place in the city, but this [the home in Roccafluvione] was out in the country—kind of like a hiding place or like a resort.” By contrast, Porta Romana is one of the six historical quarters of the city of Ascoli Piceno.
A woman who marries in Italy does not take her husband’s surname, but keeps her own family name. Therefore, Angelo Bianchini would likely have been Angela’s brother, cousin, or some other blood relative.
The addresses of two other Italian families are recorded in Armie’s address book.
Nazareno Lupi and his wife, whose family hid John Everett and Willis Largent for over nine months. John received this picture after the war from the Lupi family.
John Everett (with arms crossed) and two comrades.
Two weeks ago I received these photographs and the following story from John O. Everett, Jr.
He wrote, “Dad’s story is in the form of a submission he and I made to TNT years ago when they were focusing on soldiers’ stories one Memorial Day weekend. I had sat down with my Dad several times to obtain the timeline and other details for the story, and it was completed and submitted a year before he died. Although TNT did not include his story during the broadcast, I am so glad that I documented his experience so that I can provide the details to you.”
John O. Everett, Sr. passed away in 1995.
It’s a pleasure to share his story, and it’s my hope that the gratitude he wished to send to the Lupi family by way of the TNT broadcast will find it’s way to them somehow through this site.
John Everett and Willis Largent were both interned in Hut 4–Section 11—the section of men Armie Hill was assigned when he was transferred to the camp.
Here is John’s tale, which he named “The Unsung WWII Heroes of Italy: A POW’s Story.”
The Unsung WWII Heroes of Italy:
A POW’s Story
“What the hell part of the world are you from?”
I still remember this question asked of three scruffy American soldiers in June, 1944 by an officer in the South African Army near Foggia, Italy. The rags that served as our clothing were part U.S. Army issue, part Italian farmer, and our boots had more holes than leather. And yet we were happy, we were safe, and we owed our lives to an Italian family that hid four prisoners of war from the Germans for over nine months.
The history books tell us that Italy was our enemy during World War II. But you will never convince a number of POWs who owe their lives to the courage and generosity of several poor Italian families who shared when they had nothing to give.
World War II began for me when I was drafted in early 1942. I had originally volunteered for service in 1941, but was turned down due a problem with my legs. Like so many other health problems, mine was “reevaluated” when the fighting got hot and heavy in 1942.