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The attached clipping is one that Armie Hill had saved for many years. It is an article submitted for publication on October 23, 1943 to the Philadelphia Inquirer by the paper’s war correspondent Ivan H. (Cy) Peterman.
Armie and his traveling companion Ben Farley, who just reached British lines eight days earlier, served as informants for the story. As they traveled across Italy they had seen first-hand the dire situation of the Italian farmers and had heard stories of how poorly the Nazis were treating the Italians. Also serving as sources for the article were American servicemen Charles Warth and Dennis Slattery.
Click on the thumbnail below to view the full article (1MB).
Armie Hill kept a journal while he was in Camp 59. This journal contains some lines of poetry, a list of the men in Armie’s hut, two drawings, notes about his own personal interests, Italian lessons, and notes on technical English and sciences from the lectures prisoners gave to one another.
The journal also contains a diary of the first 10 days following the escape from Camp 59, as Armie and Ben Farley traveled cross country in their attempt to reach the landing Allied forces.
The following PDF file (4MB) contains scans of each page of the journal and ends with a section of explanatory notes:
Of two audio recordings that I made with my father, Armie Hill, about his war experiences, this account of Camps 98 and 59 is from the first. The recording was made in February 1976.
The story begins with transport of the prisoners from North Africa to Sicily. Note how different camp conditions at Camp 98 were from Camp 59. My notations are in brackets.
“Finally one morning they succeeded in landing their planes. There were about fifty planes and they loaded about fifteen men to a plane. We flew over the Mediterranean to Sicily. We flew low and many times the plane almost touched the water. The machine guns in the fighter planes pointed up. That way the British planes couldn’t fly low enough to fire at us. Occasionally we hit an air pocket. The propellers would keep turning, but the plane wouldn’t move forward—it just dropped down ten or twenty feet. Then suddenly it would move forward again. It took about an hour to get across. When we landed I didn’t know where we were, but there the Germans turned us over to the Italians.
“I thought the Italians would treat us better, but they were poorly organized. We had to stand for hours while they counted us. Hitler and Mussolini had made an agreement that the Italians would receive the German’s prisoners. We were valuable to the Italians because their control of us helped to ensure that their men who were prisoners were treated well. Or, in case of surrender, they could use us to barter for better terms. On Sicily they loaded us into trucks while it was pouring rain and they drove us into the mountains. It was cold in the mountains. I had a field jacket but little other clothing that was appropriate for the cold climate. The other men were just as poorly dressed. We all had summer underwear and light outer clothing. Our prison camp was far up in the mountains. It was almost impossible to escape from that camp. No one lived near the camp, so even if someone managed to get out of the camp there would be no place to get food.