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These comments about Clarence T. (Tom) Cronin are from his son, Ed Cronin.
“My father, like many of the survivors of WW II and prisoners of war, never talked much about his experience. What I can tell you about his is that he had full-blown PTSD but in those days it just was not recognized. He was a man with a good heart underneath it all but he had an explosive temper through most of his life. He was typical in that he would jump out of bed in the middle of the night and get under his bed to cover himself from “attack.”
“He was street kid from Brooklyn, New York, who literally grew up on the streets. He worked in the Brooklyn Navy yard for a while before his service in the military. He actually had two stints in the army—one in the ’30s, and then again during WWII. He was a really good boxer when he was in the military.
“I recently made contact with a guy who was in his outfit when they landed at Oran in Algeria. This gentleman tells me that he and my father were in the third regiment (1st Infantry Division, Big Red One) and were actually in the same company but different platoons. He told me that when the troops landed in Oran they landed on three different beaches, and he and my father landed on Arzew beach.
“You asked about my father’s experience when he got out. I can give you bits and pieces of what he told me. Again, I was young and it is hard to grab context but this is my best memory.
“He was captured in North Africa and as I remember he may have been taken to Sicily first. He told me that he was in more than one prison camp and that he had made several escape attempts during his period of confinement.
After years of collecting documentary material and recording stories related to the history of Camp 59, an educational center is in sight for members of the Associazione Casa della Memoria (the House of Remembrance) of Servigliano.
The old train station—through which Allied prisoners were brought to camp—will be renovated. The building has been granted to the association for its educational mission.
The old Servigliano train station viewed from the north.
The front of the station faces the northwestern wall of Camp 59. At one time tracks paralleled that wall of the camp.