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Above: Jim Osborn in 1945, at the time of his marriage to Betty Ephgrave.
Note that the crest on his cap seems to be that of the Royal Artillery, and the ribbon bar above his left pocket flap bears a number 8. I believe it is the Africa Star 8th Army bar.

I received an email from John Osborn, who lives in Derby, England, on January 12.

John wrote, “I am trying to trace the movements of a relative of mine who I have just discovered was a POW held at Camp 59 and who is not on your list. My uncle, James Frederick Osborn was a Gunner in the Royal Artillery of the British Army.

“My uncle Jim was born in Luton, Bedfordshire, on 26 July 1920. He was one of three sons of Frederick and Hilda Osborn. His brother Les was about a year younger and my dad, Ray, was three years his junior. At the outbreak of World War 2 the family was living in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire, England, UK.

“The three brothers all volunteered before they were drafted, as their conscription age approached. Jim went into the Army, Les into the Royal Air Force, and my dad went into the Royal Navy.

“I have always known that Jim had been a POW from early on in the war and I have some vague memory that I was once told that he was captured in North Africa rather than France.

“My cousin Christine, Jim’s daughter, sent me photocopy of a POW postcard from Jim to Betty Ephgrave, who was at the time his fianceé. They married in 1945 on Jim’s return home.”

The return address on the card is Osborn, James Fredirick, Gunner 1602265, Camp PG No 59, PM 3300 ITALIA.

John continued, “Jim ended the war in Stalag VI-B at Mühlberg in Germany.

“Christine told me that at some time during his captivity, possibly at the end of the war, or possibly before he was transferred from Camp 59, Jim was involved in a breakout.

“During the breakout he lost what personal papers he had. These were found by a German soldier. Some years after the war (about 1948-49) this German returned the papers to Jim. From then on they sent each other Christmas cards and visited each other!”


Above: Duilio Virgili

Alle amico [To a friend]
Alberto Rosenblum

Last June, Alan Rosenblum sent me a detailed account of the protection his father, Sergeant Albert Rosenblum, was given by the Virgili family of Ortezzano, Italy, after his escape from Camp 59 in 1943.

Al also sent scans of a few old photographs and an envelope from a letter sent by Duilio Virgili to his father after the war (the letter has since been lost).

I forwarded Al’s account and the photos to Italian researcher Filippo Ieranò in Servigliano, Italy, explaining that Al was interested in making contact with the Virgili family.

In September, Filippo replied: “It was not easy, but eventually I managed to get in touch with Rita Virgili, the sister of Duilio Virgili of Ortezzano.”

Filippo explained, “Mrs. Virgili recalls that Albert and several other American prisoners came to their house during the war. She currently lives in Rome, and would be very glad to establish a relationship with Alan Rosenblum.”

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The following two letters were sent from Robert Dickinson’s stepmother to Denis Crooks’ mother when the two sons were overseas during the war.

Robert’s mother—also the mother of his brothers James and William—died young. Robert’s father, Leslie Dickinson, married again—to Nellie, the author of these two touching letters.

Leslie and Nellie had a son together, Len Dickinson. Letters and cards Robert sent while in service to his little brother Len are posted elsewhere on this site.

Thanks to Denis’ daughter, Maggie Clarke, for sharing this material.

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