Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello
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. Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello, the son of R. Ranieri Bourbon del Monte, Marquis of Sorbello, and of Romeyne Robert, an American, is one example of an aristocrat and scholar who lent his expertise and means to the cause of rescuing these stranded soldiers.
A document recommending an award for Uguccione, now in the British National Archives (provided by researcher Brian Sims), has this to say about Uguccione’s service:
“From early November, 1943 until June, 1944 this officer worked behind the lines organising the escape of Allied P/W and showed great personal courage and disregard of danger. On one occasion when the land escape route was disrupted due to enemy vigilance and activity he successfully arranged the evacuation by fishing boat of 27 P/Ws. He was constantly aware of the atrocities committed against P/W by the Germans and Fascists and did all in his power to alleviate the plight of these prisoners. Through the partisans he pursued the originators of these atrocities and saw to it that a number met a proper fate. His energy and extreme loyalty was an inspiration to the many Italian soldiers who worked alongside him.”
In 1945, Uguccione was decorated with a silver medal for valor—and, in 1949, a Ministry of Defense bronze medal—for his rescue and recovery involvement.
I am grateful to Uguccione’s son, Professor Ruggero Ranieri, for allowing me to share on this site the following paper about his father.
The role of Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello in the operations of the Ratline (Marche and Abruzzi)
1. Sources used
There are two main sources on the history of the Adriatic coast Ratline, which was active between December 1943 and June 1944. One consists of the documents of IS9 itself, which are kept at the NA in Kew Garden. The documentation is fairly vast, but there are two important files covering the key events: Major Fillingham’s report and the Newsletter of IS9 itself, printed every fortnight with news from the various battle fronts, or better from the various Field Section in which A-Force was divided.