Octon, Jimmy William

Summary of Jimmy William Octon

Told in diary form, Jimmy Octon’s story starts with his training in Catterick in the UK and it follows him to Libya where he was captured in 1942. His diary breaks at this point and resumes in 1943 when he is in the Veneto region. As a POW he worked in the fields around the camp and he recorded in great detail, and often daily, his food, his work and the weather. At the Armistice he walked out of his camp and spent the next 22 months on the run in the Italian countryside.

The full story follows, in two versions. The version in the first window below is the original scanned version of the story. In the second window below is the transcribed version in plain text.

[Digital page 1]

Transcript of Jimmy Octon’s wartime diary/log 1942 – 1943

[Photograph with caption]: Trooper James William Octon, 7909472. 8th Royal Tank Regiment.

[Editorial note] Editorial note from the transcriber of the diary, who is Jimmy’s son.

Due to the date of transcription, September 2023, Jimmy’s writing has faded quite a lot, most being in pencil. Words which have been guessed at are in italics, whereas those that are very difficult to read have  “??????” as a substitute. Jimmy’s spelling is as it appears in the original, so it can vary throughout for the same word. As he wrote in cursive script there appears to be a lot of capital letters which we would not use today but appeared to be normal for his time. Capital letters have been left as he used them.

Also included some photographs taken at various times e.g. Army training, deployment to Egypt, together with photographs of some of the Italians who played a huge part in keeping him safe when he left the “comfort” of the Italian POW camp and went “on the run” for 22 months.

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[Front and back of a postcard showing a group from Catterick Training Camp, June 1940, with Jimmy Octon’s place detailed.]

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[Three photographs of Jimmy Octon with captions]: Jimmy Octon in Egypt 1941; Jock, one of his mates; and ‘Jimmy, front row on left.

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[Series of photographs, with images of the front and back of the pictures, with the single caption]: Egypt 1941

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[Six photographs, with images of the front and back of the pictures, with the single caption]: Libya 1942

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Source – A5 ruled notebook with red lined margins:


28/5/42      Moved west 3 or 4 (miles) near Guazala Bay. Much air activity – 7 Stukas shot down over sea & one M.E. [Messerschmidt] 30 yards from tank. Pilot taken prisoner by Sticky. Got ready to go in, but stayed put.

29/5/42      Moved off 2p.m. to old [Lauger] & stopped near A.D.S. Tanks too close together & we were heavily dive-bombed by M.E.s No damage done. Tim [or Tiny?] had one at front and rear of tank but they did not explode. Commander (Captain Stewart) gave order to close down &****** but again nothing happened. Plenty of scrapes due to flashing windscreens etc. Returned to Laguer after being “lost”. S.A.s (D.L.I.) [Durham Light Infantry] had taken many prisoners.

30/6/42      Morning peaceful but after bother moved. Shelling over on the ridge in the afternoon. Quite a peaceful day. A little machine gunning whilst swimming. Tanks got bogged. Fed at cookhouse.

1/7/42        After breakfast had to move. Went to Central sector (near Knightsbridge) & joined up with the 7th and 42nd. Anticipated action but infantry (D.L.I.) dive-bombed.

2/6/42         Plenty of excitement, air was electric. Went out at night. Nothing doing, bags of fires, flares & guards.

3/6/42          Went in to tantalize in afternoon. Shelled a lot & a scare or two, but no damage. Left late, more guards.

4/6/42           Day to selves, [dope?] on next day, pay up, Yags, canteen, left for forward area. No action during night.

5/6/42           Up early (4:30) & all ready. Advanced & met with resistance. Taken prisoner by Jerry, interrogated then transported west of minefield. Handed over to Italians. Spent night in open with overcoat.

6/6/42           Transported over desert to Timini searched again. Then to Derna. Only food – 1 tin bully 4 biscuits among 10. No water. Loaf at 10 p.m.

7/6/42          Whole day at Derna. Loaf 1 tin bully & water

8/6/42          Left for Benghazi. Loaf 1 tin bully, no water. Arrived Benghazi 10 p.m.

9/6/42          Spent day at Benghazi. Very hot. 1 tin bully, 1 loaf, plenty water & 2 fags

10/6/42        Left Benghazi with usual rations and arrived at Aleg*** (****=page torn away)

11/6/42        Left *******no f ***** ice

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12/6/42         Left ******** Homs ***** night in

13/6/42         Left Homs (no ******** afternoon. Felt y/g*****

14/6/42         Still at Tarhuna. Reg ****** Feeling better today

15/6/42         Usual day, but ********

16/6/42`       ditto

17/6/42        ditto

18/6/42`       ditto

19/6/42        ditto

20/6/42`       ditto

21/6/42         ditto Issue of 30 fags.

22/6/42         Harry & Charlie left us.

23/6/42         Tim & Bill left us.

24/6/42         Left Tarhuna. Arrived Tripoli Suc*** near Tripoli in afternoon. Met up ***** Charlie, Bill & Tim.

25/6/42          Good grub here.

27/6/42          Another day. 30 fags issued. (To ***


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ITALY 1943

N.B. There are various names referred to in this log, one being Rene, his wife [my mother], & John, his brother, but more regularly the small group of Prisoner’s of War that Jimmy hung around with in Italy who were:

Stan – Stanley V. Ings from Ashbourne, Derbyshire
Porky – Clifford Portch from Winchmore Hill, London
George – George Alderson from Darlington
The Italians who hid, sheltered, helped, clothed & fed them after they had walked out of the POW camp were:

The Cannazza family: Mama (Luigia) and her children, Rosetta, Gemma, Maria, Alberto & Umberto*
(*Umberto was a young draftee in the Italian Army who came home to Mama when the army was disbanded in 1943. When he found that there were 4 Allied servicemen being sheltered by his mother he handed himself back in to authorities so that they did not come looking for him, a very selfless act. My Dad did not meet him again until the mid 1970s and I was present. It was a very emotional reunion.)

The Spagnia family: Gino & his son, Giovanni (also known as Gianni).

I had the pleasure of meeting most of the Italian people who helped my Dad, Stan, Porky & George in the 1970’s & I attended Mama’s funeral in Santo Stefano di Minerbe in 1976, representing my Dad who couldn’t get there in time from England, as I was on holiday in Turin at the time.

Others named : Aldo, Fuglio, Bruno, Balbo, Giovanni Spimpolo & Giuseppe Fochesato.

Most of the POWs’ time was spent in the locality of Legnago – Minerbe – Santo Stefano di Minerbe in the Veneto region – Italy’s north east. Jimmy learned his Italian with a Veneto/Veronese accent and dialect. So he would have sounded like one of the locals. Imagine if you were a foreigner and taught English by a person with a broad Geordie accent. That’s how you would speak English – ”Howay the Lads”, “Wor Geordie’s lost ‘is penka” etc. That’s how Jimmy spoke whenever he used Italian, even decades later e.g. “Vino rosso” was always “Vin ross” because that’s how they speak in the Veneto region.

After a year or more working in the fields as a POW in a working camp he had a deep tan, which, when added to his dark hair, made it easy for him to pass off as an Italian. His local name was “Giacamo”. His log is peppered with Italian words from time to time, evident of his wish/ability to speak and his immersion in the local tongue.

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[Postcard with writing on reverse with caption:] Rene Octon 1943, aged 23

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May 26th       After thorough search by Caribinieri had “scoff” & drew rations. Marched to station (VRBISAGLIA BORISERVIZI). Population out to see us off. Travelled all day. ???? countryside passed through Macerata, Potenza, Picenza(?), Montelupone, Ponte Rignare, Lorete, Oriena(?), Poganda

May 27th       Woke up stiff. Very stiff neck. Passed Isola Del Scala, Verona & St Martinello arrived at destination at approx. 9 a.m. Park took baggage & then us about 7. Is small Campo Laboro 148/ IV in small usdays. Police out to see us arrive (all on bicycles. Camp not bad at all. Commandant ?????/decent guy. Managed two breasts(?).

May 28th       Slept well last night & only awoke on cry of coffee mugs. Very good bread here, it was still hot & reminded me of home. [Jimmy worked for a bakery before the war]. Good rations. Made store & caught up with washing. Civilians gather round  ?????? frequent interest. Parcels expected Sunday

May 29th       Again Awoke on cry of Coffee Up. Darned 3 pr socks. I got started on the blower. Was detailed to my maize working party. Usual crowd of ?? again etc. Usual Brew Read ??? Great ???? change. Parcels on QT

May 30th       Shower (cold) before coffee this morning. Got buckshee [free] ½ loaf. No parcels but expected soon. Best scoff since returned. Much agitation but agitators subdued (M&Co), No work done on blower. Start work at 7 in the morning. Reveille 5:30 (What a shock!)

May 31st       Reveille 5:30. Coffee & Roll. Roll call afterwards. Arrived 8:30. Worked until 12:00. Lunch & work again 1:15 to 5:30. Basket of Cherries at 3:30. Quite relaxed at finishing time. March back. Arrived in camp 6:45. Parcels in. I got Paddington Gare stodge & supper. Bed 10:15 very tired.

June 1st        Up again early, ??? for work 6:50 Breaks 9-9??, 12-1 & 3:30 Finito [Finished] 5-0. Heavy rain 3 to 9. Buckshee Niente [Nothing]. Good scoff. Left shoulder painful. Maize crop well thinned out.

June 2nd        Working on maize again today. Breakfast & Brew/Bread. Two baskets of cherries and 1 glass Vino. Change of sentry today. Good stodge. Holiday Domani [tomorrow] for Ascension of Our Lady. Shoulder a little better.

June 3rd         Holiday today & what a day. Raining Cats & dogs. ??/ washing done. Quite idle. First feed of spuds and peas. Lovely. Wrote to my Darling.

June 4th         Owing to rain Non Labori! [You don’t work!] Did washing & chopped brew wood. Buckshee scoff from Itis & own cookhouse. Made fan assembly for blower. Thunder & rain in the evening. Had a shower.

June 5th             Today heralds my first day of my 2nd yr as a prisoner. No work again owing to rain. Parcel has ran out. Now on rations just. Bought peas for tomorrow.

[Digital page 11]

                          Unfortunate loss of Perry’s hoard and Nicholson’s entrance to jail. Just heard of his release (10 pm). A little more work on blower. Bed 10.30p.m.

June 6th           Parcels arrived but no distribution until June 12th. Much messing around & agitating. Messing meeting Re cooks buckshee bread.

June 7th           Work again today (Maize & tobacco). Beautiful piece of cake from Aunt. Rain spoilt play. New sentry. What a lad!!

June 8th           Tobacco & Maize. (Charlie in the empty[?] duck). Grand concert by Vie. Cherries given. Wiljan’s attempt to kiss sister. Large Salome’s dinner. Shower after work.

June 9th           More Tabacco & Maize. Cherries again 10 of fag issue given out.

June 10th         Maize & Tobacco. Egg & Vino. Ride home on cart. Early roll call. Iti [Italian] fag issue.

June 11th         Domani day. More Tobacco & Maize. Potatoes & bread. Gift from foreman Bauno. On grain tomorrow 8am start.

June 12th          Tobacco mostly today. A little grain. Gauf(?) from girls & spuds from Rancho. Vino too, Drew best parcel ever. Egg Fl[akes], B&V, Meat Rll, Large Healthy Life Blk Currant Jam. Rud. A good Daffy. Washed socks & vest. Italian fags.

June 13th          Reposa! [Rest period!] Buks [buckshee] a loaf & stodge. Stoolys at 11. Stewed apples Washed socks shirt etc. Shower. Welfare meeting. Bargos [??] for breakfast.

June 14th         Grain all day. Repaired & drove tractor. Got eggs & Vino Flip, Cherries, bread & Vino for my trouble. Bread from girls & cake from Auntie.

(Italian vocabulary notes) AVANTE:- ADVANCE. YAMO:- COME ON. PIANO:- GENTLY. Cherry issue.

June 15th         Charlie’s 2 years P.O.W. Adjusted fan belt. Got Laite caldo with zucchero [hot milk with sugar], Vino, Polente & Salome. Bread from girls. Short measure of Café. Potati too. Gran tutti jono.[giorno=day, so he may have meant “a really good day”]

(More Italian vocabulary notes) Fame:- hungry. Mangare:- food. Oiumi:- man. Oggi:- today. Sapone:- soap. Parne:- bread. Qua:- here. La:- there. Lei:- you. Voi:- your. Niente:- nothing. Buono good, Cavello:- horse. Bycyclite:- Byke

Cherry issue. Horse died 30,000 LA (Lira?0

June 16th         More grain. Rain stopped play (1 hr off). Peach issue. Tipped egg flake on the fire. No backi/bucks[buckshee?] today. Talk with soldier. A little wine.

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(More Italian vocabulary notes) Casa:- house. Canto:- sing. Io:- I. Amici:- friend. ?????:- your name

June 17th          Grain again all day. Got over 1 et, spuds also boiled spuds. A glass of vino & a little bread. Peach issue. Polenta & carne [meat] from Minti. Parcels came in oggi [today]. 3 weeks supply & 10 invalid. No letters yet. Just P.C.s. Shower. Wrote to my darling.

(More Italian vocabulary notes) Formage:- cheese. Carne:- meat. Acoua:- water. Cerini:- match. Home:- casa. Carro:- cart. Agricole:- Agriculture. Soldate:- soldier. Machine:- machine. Mumo/Mimo: hurry.

June 18th          Back breaking on maize (polenta). Bread given. Peach issue. Shaving brush, blades & opener from Canteen. Letter issued. Iti fag issue. Mug pinched.

June 19th          Grain all day. Spuds given. Ride home. Drew Chippenham – no part. Repaired car. Got bread & vino. More spuds & stew apples.

June 20th          Day off (Sunday) Did washing under difficulties of water shortage. Wrote to my darling. Peach issue (13) Had haircut by Charlie. No mess meeting.

June 21st          Grano (grain) & Tobacco all day. Vino. Ride back Shower ½ loaf from Sentry.

June 22nd         Grain & Tobacco again. Potatoes given. New working hours. 2 hrs reposa Non Buono [Not Good, may have been a nickname for one of the Sentries] Arrived back at camp 7:15. Bread given also stodge from Sentry. Lofty & Charlie had swims. A little rain. More pills from Doc. Felt done at night

June 23rd          More Grain & Tobacco. 2 lots of Vino & a few Cherries. Had a shower & cooked burgoo. Reposa Domani (Corpus Christi) Italian fag issue (15). Ride home again. Lofty got a rabbit. Very hot today.

June 24th          Reposa! Burgoo & 1 kilo Cherries for breakfast. Shower. Eggs Fl. Saus & spuds for dinner. No washing done at all. Messing meeting. Spent afternoon writing out sheets.

June 25th          Grain & Tobacco. Lead horse all afternoon. Bread given & potatoes. Plums from contractor. Very hot. Shower. Brought another load of wood for cookhouse. A little mail came today. Parcels Domani.

June 26th          Again with Cavallo on tobacco. A little grain. 5 Vinos, bacon sandwich & lots of bread. Drew Carnaveon. Not bad but ??? staff. Shower. Spuds given & a little cheese. Italian fag issue (15).

June 27th          Reposa (Sunday) Washed shirt, socks etc. Had shower. Made new mug. Darned socks. 1 kilo plums from canteen. Lovely stewed with apricots & apples.

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June 28th          No work today. Brewed up & sent a bit of washing. Good sleep in afternoon. Put ducks in trough. Wood & Rations arrived ??? Little mail.

June 29th          Holiday today. Felt queer all day but advanced a good deal on the blowers. Peaches from canteen that gave them away, Washing came back. Iti fags & card issued. Shower. Just revived after hearing laundry prices (8 Lire for 1 shirt & 1 long pants).

June 30th          Another day off (rain) Advanced on blower. Wrote card to Mum. No work tomorrow.

July 1st              Wrote letter to Rene. A little more work on blower. Browned off with being in. Hot shower & cold shower. Chips etc for lunch.

July 2nd              Still no work. More tin bashing. Shower. A little washing done.

July 3rd             Still no work. Drew Birmingham Parcel. More tin bashing & washing done. Concert at night. Visitor highly appreciated by Italians & fellow prisoners. Finished Castle Gacy – Buchan

July 4th             Sunday. Les brought brew to me in bed. Peaches & Pears from Canteen. Concert again. No Skilly. Double Stodge but couldn’t eat it. Work tomorrow. Shower etc.

July 5th              Boss pleased to see us. Worked with horse on job. Spuds & Vino Iti fag issue (15)

July 6th             Working on Thresher. Fairly hard going but good. Bugo buks[buckshee]. Very bad attack of indigestion so reported sick. Gave all grub away. Apple issue.

July 7th              Not much better so have sick day off. Plenty sleep.

July 8th              Work again. Forking wheat & with horse – multi buckshees. Ride home in trailer

July 9th              Forking again. Spuds, wine etc. Spuds from canteen & salt. Shower.

July 10th           Finished off on lel farm. Spuds Vino etc. Numerous jobs. Drew North Row. Shower.

July 11th            Sunday, Big Festa in Zevio. Did washing, shower etc. Gave song at concert. General knowledge won by England.

July 12th            Threshing on middle farm. Eggs bread Vino etc. Swim & shower

July 13th            Still threshing. Treated well. Girls for 1 hour. Shower. Iti fags (45). 4 letters

July 14th            Holiday (Sante Toscana) General knowledge won by O.S. [Other Services? i.e not Army] Handed in mail. Shower

July 15th            More threshing & usual scoff. Mail in tonight. Iti fags (15). No Vino. Shower

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July 16th           Got 1 letter of photos. Had a rough play Usual scoff etc. Small squad. Shower.

July 17th           Parcels arrived. Apples & onions from canteen. Iti fags. Drew Lee Green. Day off. Jock in digger, Shower etc. Did washing.

July 18th           Wrote to my Darling & Mum. Darned socks. Cooked a little custard etc. Shower etc. On winning team of Brains Trust. Hair cut.

July 19th            Lavora.(Work) Threshing still usual bucks (he)]. News of Rome & Napoli. On sprayers. Multi Caldo (Very hot). Shower.

July 20th            More Threshing. Usual bucks. Watered Maize. Caught asleep on stack. Swim in River. Shower.

July 21st            Sapper again. No petrol for tractor. Maize & Tob, Apple from Canteen. Iti fags (15). Shower. No bucks. ½ loaf (added later in pen)

July 22nd           No work. Made shorts. Good sleep. Multi scoff. Shave etc. Fags (added later in pen).

July 23rd           No work. Very heavy storm. Parcels arrived, Les got P.P. Repaired Underpants. Sankey. Cig. Parc.

[In pen]

July 24th           Again no work. Did all washing. Parcels all Bermondsey (14,15&16) Peaches from canteen 1K. Razor Blades (5) Spuds (2). Matches (1)

July 25th            Wrote to my Darling & Mum. Red Sunset Pass. Shave etc. (in pencil) On winning team of Spelling Bee.

July 26th            Last of threshing. Bucks. Swim & shower. Mussolini Caput!!! (Mussolini dead])Capitano’s visit

July 27th           Back to hoeing. Vino. Ultimatum finite. Heavy storm in evening. Iti fags (15)

July 28th           Worked for Todeschini Non Buono [Literally “Germans No Good”, so may have been the nickname of a moaning guard or sentry] . Nearly landed in clink. Peaches from canteen.

July 29th            Reposa! Washed socks, Shower etc.

July 30th            Worked on spuds. Multi-multi spuds & apples. Mail up. 7 letters. 1 John. 1 Mum. Toothbrush & paste from canteen. Iti fags (15).

July 31st            Picking Pears today. Vino, bread, spuds & egg. Mick knocked off wagon. Drew Leicester. Only 20 Players. Shower.

Aug 1st              Sunday. Multi Lavore Oggi [Much work today]. Washing, sewing, darning & cooking. Tomatoes from canteen. Shave etc. Wrote to My Darling & Mum. Very good Concert.

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Aug 2nd            New hrs. Work 8 a.m. Revelli 6 a m. Lumbering – Box packing – Maize. Walked home. Vino & spuds. Bread. Swim. Fag issue (15)

Aug 3rd             Coal & garden. Vino, cheese etc. Maize & Tobac. 3K Tom. Melon & 10 Blades from canteen. Swim.

Aug 4th              Potato picking. No swim

Aug 5th              Put mending boxes. Iti fags (15). Parcels in (Canadian). 2 tins boot polish (canteen).

Aug 6th              Took over camp cobbler & repaired 2 pr boots. Fags (20). Boys had big row at work.

Aug 7th              Mended 3 pr today. Drew Canadian (Tea). 30 fags. Washed a little. ½ litre vino & 1 kilo Tom from canteen. Multi-cativa.(Multi-captive)

Aug 8th              Wrote letter to Rene & card to mum. Made a cake & burgoo. On concert in trio. 15 fags.

Aug 9th              Still cobbling

Aug 10th           Out on Ranch 9. Good time. Vino etc. 5 letters today.

Aug 11th           More cobbling. Usual day. 15 Iti fags. Made cake

Aug 12th           Usual day

Aug 13th           Out on 2 & 9 Ranchi. An enjoyable day.

Aug 14th           Drew Canadian (coffee). 15 Iti fags. More cobbling. Vino from canteen.

Aug 15th           Wrote to my Darling & A. Vino from canteen. Concert spoiled. Baked cake. Walked to Infirmary.

Aug 16th           More cobbling. 3 kilos pears from canteen.

Aug 17th           Usual day. (15 Iti fags)

Aug 18th           Usual day. Parcels arrived. Ate cake baked on Sunday.

Aug 19th           Walked to Infirmary! 4 parcel issue.

Aug 20th           Just ate choc today. Heard of Cpl Robbilliard having my chity in his books (15 Iti fags) Usual cobbling.

Aug 21st           Again cobbling. Drew Can. (coffee). Pears from canteen also fountain pen.

Aug 22nd          No concert today, nor writing to do. Grapes buckshee. No vino from canteen this week.

Aug 23rd           A little mail but none for me. First letters to this camp. Out with squad & new officer. Iti fags

[Digital page 16]

Aug 24th          Cobbling again. Had photo taken twice. Bruno came for dinner.

[Transcriber’s note] In Pen from this point forward

Aug 25th          Cobbling. Nothing untoward. Walk to Infirmary.

Aug 26th          Photo taken again. More boots. Iti fags (15)

Aug 27th          14 letters today. No parcels (25 fags)

Aug 28th          Got my notice. Start work on Wed. 25 Iti top up. Multi Vino. Out (7)

Aug 29th          Good breakfast. Eggs etc. Sang at concert.

Aug 30th          Did washing & darning. Boot repairs (20 fags)

Aug 31st           Multi Lavora on last day. Letters cards came but no parcels got 1 letter from Mum & 1 from Rene. Start work tomorrow. 55 fags.

Sept 1st             Wrote to Rene & Mum during reposa. On tobacco (bootee) English Sisters at Ravelo

Sept 2nd            Again on booti

Sept 3rd             Today heralds the 5th year of war. A raid has been made on Calabria [“Invasion of Calabria” was inserted above this text]. Worked on tobacco & apples. 1 letter from Rene. Stan’s news of brother.

Sept 4th             Very heavy storm during the night & much rain consequently no work today. Got food parcels & P.P. of April letter A real smasher. Grapes from canteen.

Sept 5th             Sunday. Wrote letter to Bill B & card to Rene. Issued with 1 pr socks & underpants. Sang on concert in Buddies & Solo. Did washing, Shave etc Sewed boot for Jock.

Sept 6th             Picking apples today. New times:- Dinner 1 ½ hrs & finish 5:30. O.K. Reporting sick tomorrow. Gramophone arrived. Finished “Black 27” & started “Uncle Silas”. Gave cripple kiddie bar of choc from squad. Bowl from canteen (8L.) 15 Iti fags.

Sept 7th            Report sick with side & got repose after thorough exam. Finished “Uncle Silas”. Shaved etc. Mended shorts.

Sept 8th            Reported sick & got Lavora. Got Sweet Potatoe from canteen. Stitched my boots. After squads came in heard the good news of ARMISTICE. Everyone locally going haywire. Bags of vino but none yet for us. Fiesta tomorrow. Renza & family hysterical over it. We were allowed 1 hr extension & sang “The National Anthem”. The Camp Commandant was highly delighted & even the Caribinieri Brigadier came to wish us the best. No sleep during night for the excitement & mosquitoes.

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Sept 9th             Up early & brewed. Rumour that evacuating Jerries may cause trouble. Many flaps, but at 1 p.m. came the pukka one.

(N.B. This is the day that over 50,000 Allied POWs walked out of their POW camps in Italy, before the German Army took over control of them. 12,000 of them were never recaptured. Jimmy, Stan, Porky & George were 4 of those)

Packed up kit and trudged some 5 miles through bylanes to a farm [Bonadinican]. Slept under byre on straw. Heard of our troops disembarking at Napoli, Trieste, Genoa & Venice, also heard of San Martino boys being caught. Managed to get away with almost all kit. Multi Vino. Scare during night.

Sept 10th          Moved in morning to another ranchi [farm]. Started work but taken off owing to scare. Duck supper provided. Very, Very nice. Changed into civvies. Jock & Sandy blew off into Grigo but came back in the evening. Slept out on straw.

Sept 11th           Up early & brewed. Washed shaved etc & off to hunt. Met Bruno Grig & killed 2 ducks for dinner & an excel dinner it was, reinforced with Toms & Mushrooms. Moved cookhouse. 20 fags up. Salt Polenta. Went for walk to Acoua Bouno & had grand night. No news. Saw Jerry D.R.

Sept 12th          Mixture of Burgoo, Glucose, Egg Flakes Creamed Rice. 2 Creamola & Syrup for breakfast. Later on heard of disbanding of Italian Army. Now on our own. Left farm with Stan, Porky & George en route for Venice. Covered 8 Kil before dark.

Sept 13th          Up early & walked for 3 hrs breakfast by the side of the Poe Adige. Walked on & crossed the river at Buonavigo. Given bread & water by civvies. Walked on via S.E. & met some civvies working. Got a straw hat & food. A further walk & met many girls working. After much persuasion decided to stop Had a grand wash & moma washed all our clothes. Had very good supper & slept on goose down. Multi Beni. [This is probably when they met the Cannazza family]

Sept 14th          Woke at 6.30. Breakfasted on bread & milk. Had chicken for dinner & rabbit for supper. Given map. Shaved etc. Heard Bing on wireless singing “Stardust”. Got matches & eggs from Luigi’s aunt.

Sept 15th           Awoke early. Decided to move but folk won’t hear of it. Spent day in Luigi’s Ranch. Stew for dinner & roast Turkey for supper. Always vino. Met Maria Teresa, a proper rip. Scoffed grapes. New shirt. Heard Gracie Fields. Very good.

Sept 16th          Another good sleep & awoke fresh. Had breakfast of milk & bread & then went out in the fields. Had dinner of chicken brought out & enjoyed it with the mac. Slept in the afternoon. No wireless this evening.

Sept 17th          Up at 8. Had dinner of gnocchi [potato dumplings] which is customary in this country on Fridays. It was minus cheese etc., but very similar to pancake. Meat after.

[Digital page 18]

                           Studied a little language. Got a .45. Again in fields. Jerry has put on a curfew at eight.

Sept 18th           Again in fields but at another place. Spent a rather rowdy day. Met a girl in blue & had a large bottle of wine. Also met her brothers.

SUND. Sept 19th      Out in fields in the morning. Had tea or dinner at night in another house. A grand one too. Viewed the bosses museum of birds. In the afternoon, in the small house. The whole family were dressed in their Sunday best. A new collar on the blue shirt.

[Digital page 19]

[Group photographs, with captions identifying]:
Centre: Sign. Luigia Cannazza
Back Row: Sicilian friend, C. Pertch, S. Ings, G. Alderton, J. Octon, son Alberto
Front Row: Daughs Gemma, Rosetta, sons Luigi, Gionanni, Dau. Maria
Sept 1943

[Other captions identify]: Gemma, Maria and Rosetta, May 1944

Giovanni Spagnia, Nov 1943

[Digital page 20]

Sept 20th          Out in fields in morning. A storm in the afternoon. Bothered by kids. Quit after the storm. Gino brought more clothes for us. Rosetta blacked my face. Pkt of fags & matches from Ma.

Sept 21st           Friend brought books on Geometry & The World. Changed into fresh clothes. Giovanni in a bad temper. Many low flying aircraft. Had hair cut by Porky & a real mess he made of it. I look like a Zulu gone haywire.

Sept 22nd          Luigi visited us this morning along with his cousin, a padre. His cousin endeavoured to speak English but made an awful mess of it. A very dull day. I caused a riot in the goose-pen & visualised them as prisoners. Maria is doing our washing this morning. Porridge for breakfast. Rain after lunch. Again met up with Blondie & sister. Bags of fun & singing with girls in the casermo [barracks]. Boys came in after. Maria made Porkies bed into couch.

Sept 23rd           Moved to another spot.(4). Rained all night, consequently ground very wet. No kids today. After dinner went nearer the road. Had tea then listened to radio. Slept in Casermo. Heard Bing Crosby.

Sept 24th          First up as usual. Washed etc, had breakfast & sorted out kit. Looks like being another dull day. Saw one of leaflets dropped by Jerry in Minerbe. Heard Crosby & many others on Radio.

Sept 25th          Up early. Picked grapes all day. Mamma came early on. Rain stopped work about 4 p.m. R.A.F. bombed Verona. Listened to Vic Oliver & others. The Reds have taken Smolensk & Rostov. Rain all evening. Sweet potatoes.

Sept 26th           Sunday again. Rain all night. Some came through the roof. Tobacco running low. Two of our lads came to see us! Both from Newcastle. Had a ????? 1 pkt of Tab from the lad. Heard wireless. Back at base for sleep. Plenty Vino. Anniversary of B. of Britain. One of our fellows died. Buried 3 kilos away.

Sept 27th          Up early. Off into fields. Saw two friends again. Rain in afternoon. Played with ball most of the day.

Sept 28th           Pkt of Tob[acco]. From La. Gave one of the two a pr of socks. George lost his pipe. Rain all afternoon. Fitted straps to both girls shoes, also fitted Singer with a rubber wheel.

Sept 29th          George ill. Out in morning, but after dinner oil & bed. Collected wood & mushrooms. Change of clothes.

Sept 30th          George a little better & back on grub. Up near top road & had bottle of wine. Collected some tobacco from fields. Met Mar. in field & learned of Luigi bringing gramophone. Promised to return but not too late.

[Digital page 21]

Oct 1st               A little hoeing in the morning, then for a walk. After dinner more hoeing, then into field for wine & a little more work on maize stalks. Ripped the nail off my little finger whilst throwing but Many doctors & little done. Another gramophone interlude. Napoli ours!.

Oct 2nd              Last up. Finger still sore. Walk in the morning after boys finished hoeing. Work on maze..

Oct 3rd               Sunday. Finger rather sore. Dull day. Out to dinner in the evening.

Oct 4th               Finger pretty bad. Poulticed by Steo. Out to dinner & a long walk to his Uncle Leon. Heard wireless at Gino’s. Got pants coat and more wine from the 3 sisters.

Oct 5th               Awoke with a very bad head. Finger a lot better. Poulticed again. Multo Lavora su Potato. Eat at Liones

Oct 6th               More work on potatoes. Ate at Alda’s. Quite a nice evening. Finger much better.

Oct 7th               More tobacco. Very long walk over the road. Vino at an old ladies & met Pap of the 3 sisters. At another house & had a good wack of vino. No news.

Oct 8th              Niocahi [Gnocchi?] today. Plenty rain so in caserma. Got all the beet at of my finger. Haven’t seen George or Rob for nearly a week but understand that they had a fight last night. At the sisters for tea. Not too much wine.

Oct 9th               Late in getting up. A bath in warm water. Gift of a handkerchief. At home for tea & in bed by 9.30. More tobacco.

Oct 10th            Sunday. Out to dinner. The family came for us at 3 p.m. Stan fitted out with a striking fawn suit. Invited out to tea but food was brought to the house by Gemma. The girl with the wig brought a bottle & we had a lively night. Maria in a bad mood. Helped Rosa with apples in afternoon.

Oct 11th            Hair cut by local barber. Up at 7.15. Watched ploughing & had wine. In afternoon worked on grapes. Had tea at M’s. Really good grub & wine:- especially chips. Also 1 Players each. A delightful evening.

Oct 12th             Late in getting up. Expecting George but missed him. Worked on grapes all day & had dinner in field Some difficulty in deciding on place for dinner. Brought grapes. Stacked 13 Tase

Oct 13th            Bagdolia declare war on Germany. Worked all day on beet & hay. Tea at Dino’s. Heard the news & Victor Sylvester. Had 3 photos taken.

Oct 14th            Slept well all night on new bed. Off for tobacco. Pretty nippy. Called back to field for vino & cake.

[Digital page 22]

Oct 15th            A little work on hay. Went to G’s to “Listen” to the radio. A chap from Mazzagarte came to see us. The German front is broken round the Volturno. Ital Amer, Potatoes.

Oct 16th            Last in getting up. Polished the boots this morning. At Lione’s all day. Visted another prisoner & had a good laugh. George & Stan went to Minerbe.

Oct 17th            Sunday & rain all day. The 2 girls had their hair cut off. At Dino’s for tea. Heard news.

Oct 18th            Rain again. Spent morning in house. In afternoon went fishing. Poor catch. One of Porky’s ducks killed.

Oct 19th            Up at 7.5. Met Carlo & took him to his mate in the afternoon. Picked apples. Chin Cina [Cynar?-an aperitif drink] at Fabio’s.

Oct 20th            Late in getting gup. Spent afternoon on Vino & looking for hook. Picked Tobacco

Oct 21st            Listened to Gino’s radio. Worked a little on maze. Cut down cane at home. Land set for corn.

Oct 22nd           A long & fast walk this morning & a little work on beet. Evidently met up with  Face [Fascists?] Met George on his way to Bvgo.[Buonovigo/]

[Changes to pencil from pen at this point forward].

Went to Balo in afternoon & had a walk to the millers. Met Berto there. Got fag from soldier.

Oct 23rd            Worked on beet this morning. Flap on when 2 jerries came to village for 4 mules. Spent afternoon with ball & went out to Birels for tea. Good Vino there.

Oct 24th            Late in getting up. Maria & Rosetta ??????? this morning. Cleaned boots etc. Played lots of ball. Met Dino out shooting. Went for tea at Minerbe. A rowdy evening. Ride on bike.

Oct 25th            At Gigi’s for tea. Usual day.

Oct 26th            Walk in morning. Out for a swim in afternoon. At Alda’s for tea. Went to hear radio. Just U.S. George had boots mended. Porky v. Johnny.

Oct 27th            Changed slacks this morning. Rained all day. Played cards etc.

Oct 28th            Usual morning. For a long walk in afternoon. Met the whole gang. Around M&P places.

Oct 29th            Went with George to M. Rosin. Good walk in afternoon.

Oct 30th             Picked apples all day. Out to tea at Minerbe. Better this time.

[Digital page 23]

Oct 31st             Sunday. Changed all clothes. Cleaned boots. Usual walk. A Blyth chap & his mate came to see us. Went to Dino’s for tea. Good night on radio. The boys got 2 hares today. Photo back.

Nov 1st              New month. Today is a Festival to the dead. George & Johnny at Church. Got 3 English books today. At house of M. Mor.

Nov 2nd             Up at 7 on account of scare. In ditch. All turned out a farce. Instead of going out to tea it was brought here. Rosa had her face blackened & enjoyed many potatoes. I had mine blackened too. Mum off to Brothers.

Nov 3rd              A lousy day. Terribly misty. Mom no return. Spent morning at home & afternoon at Ginolas’. Tea of roasted hare at Dino’s. Great! Heard of debate for pyjamas for soldiers.

Nov 4th              Up at 7.30. Better day but ground very wet. Mum returned with one cousin at night, many visitors, 3 dames, 2 men.

Nov 5th              Late in getting up. Cold wind this morning. Met 3 others, 2 Tank men. Had a flap on.

Nov 6th              Flap on again. Moved out to another place with George & mucker. Slept in stable. Had tea at last.

Nov 7th              Sunday Rain all day. Spent all day in stable. Moved again to Dino’s, had tea & slept in barn

Monday 8th       Told to prepare to move. Said goodbye to all & left at 6-30 with bags of grub etc. Walked all night & finished up at V.N. All with sore feet.

Nov 9th               Slept all morning & same night at V.N.

Nov 10th            George met officer & we move tonight Spent 2 hrs in Osteria & went off at 6 nearly drunk. Got to house & spent night.

Nov 11th            Up at 8, breakfast & off by 10 to find a house. Walked all day up hill & down dale without success, but slept in a stable for the night.

Nov 12th           Off after breakfast & reached another ranch at 10.30. Had dinner & stopped all night. One Brother very rich. Slept in stable along with Guinea pigs. Encounter in mine.

Nov 13th           Rene’s birthday (24). I hope she has enjoyed it. Awoke early by family making bread Walked uphill again & met a youth who took us to dinner. Stayed the night. Showed little girl how to knit.

Nov 14th           Sunday Away after breakfast to 1sthouse . George had gone off but we waited. Met Cino & got parcel & letter also pencil & paper. Stayed the night at the house but ????? and thunder in the valley. Paid a visit to the pub.

[Digital page 24]

Nov 15th           Again at the same house but eat in the valley. Slept again there but got orders to move at 4 in the morning.

Nov 16th           Started out to walk for the plains, after a breakfast of milk & cheese. Went yon side of San Giov & ate at a house when it rained. Slept in barn next to the family.

Nov 17th           Again on the march. Lost the penknife of Mama. Arrived near main road and waited to dark to pass it. After crossing the road met the doctor & ????????? to meet 5 more from Zevio, en route for Switzerland. (with George, Jock & I).

Nov 18th            After a very cold night’s sleep returned again at 2.30 p.m. Walked all day & got home at 10.30 p.m. Slept in Caseta [field hut].

Nov 19th            Met the folks again. Slept in a bed again. G much pleased to have us Changed all clothes. Gemma still away.

Nov 20th            The other boys returned today & all back at home.

Nov 21st             Sunday. Usual day, but in Georges place. Met Dino & the 3 boys of 12 squad. Fred, Pop & Griff. Uncle came today. A very nice chap.

Nov 22nd            Rain all day. Spent it over the road.

Nov 23rd             Rain again. Played candora tunnel. Shiftime lousy  ??? Abby, went off this morning

Nov 24th             After nights sleep, spent day in stable owing to mist. Heard the news. Nochi [Gnocchi?] for dinner. All the geese killed

Nov 25th            All day played cards in a Casema. Rain all day. Heard news of Bridgehead over Sangra River. Also heard T. Handley & Phil Green.

Nov 26th            A lovely day. Played cards & cleaned boots. Had a visit from Mum. Both kids at school. Had a walk. Frosty in morning.

Nov 27th           Repaired boots in the morning. A good day but frosty in morning. Played cards in afternoon & went for a walk. Heard news & “Girl Crazy”. Broke toothbrush.

Nov 28th            Sunday. A very heavy frost. Played cards all day. Change of sleep tonight. Arrived to find girl at the cinema.

Nov 29th           Cold & Dull today. Got up late & walked over to Caserma. Played cards & had a visit from Gigi R. gave us each a cigarette. Saw some shoes made by Lysetta. Mended sock.

Nov 30th            Last day of the month & it is very foggy. Played cards all day.

Dec 1st               Awoke early to find George & Jack have been taken. Spent day in Caserma playing cards & moved off at 5. Slept in a loft with a Brigade of rats.

[Digital page 25]

Dec 2nd              Awoke early & off. Cold frosty morning. Split up into 2’s. Stan & I walked out found a wooden hut. Fitted it out with rushes & slept the night.

Dec 3rd              Not up until 3-30. Went out ???? last of grub & got back at 5. Rain all night long.

Dec 4th              Very little sleep last night. Up at 7 & out for breakfast. Ground very bad for walking. Did pretty well. Got straw, cigarettes, wine etc, & 10.0 Lire. Read some of my old mail.

Dec 5th              Sunday. Slept very well. Had good breakfast & dinner. Played cards. A little sunshine today. Decided to move on then.

Dec 6th              A good sleep, but bothered a little by a rat. Mended Stan’s sock. Just awaiting dinner when up pops George & Porky. Very surprised to see them & more so them; us! Played bridge & swapped yarns. A good tea & a coat, plus fags & papers. Porky stung by wasp.

Dec 7th              A lot of rain during the night. Ground in hellish condition. After breakfast, washed & shaved & moved on. Found a nice caserma. Very little straw (Near Adige[ a river]) Got grub at night & a little more straw.

Dec 8th              A good nights sleep, but a dull morning. Decided to stay until tomorrow. Had grub across the road. Went for a walk along the Adige. No sign of George & Porky.

Dec 9th              Left casota about 8 & met G&P at broken bridge. Walked on & owing to mist found difficulty in finding a casota. Got milk & Vino & had dinner in a very small casota. After walking some time found casota minus doors & windows & decided to put the night in. Got straw & Vino but no grub as all are scared stiff.

Dec 10th            Awoke late; mist again, turned to rain just as we set off got a good dinner. Walked miles & miles & at last found casota near Madonna. Got straw, grain & milk. Slept well.

Dec 11th            Woke late again. Milk & bread for breakfast. Stopped all day in casota. Played bridge. The sun is out & may dry the ground a little. Went scrounging & got tea. Also bread, milk for morning. Came back to find Padrone [Master/Owner] had brought grub.

Dec 12th            Sunday. Hot milk brought to us. Moved after breakfast. Crossed Provincial road & had dinner in casota. Got straw & boys brought grub in also milk for breakfast. Played bridge. Tried fire without success. A very fine day.

Dec 13th           Awoke & found another good day after very good nights sleep. Breakfast & washed up. Wash, shave etc. Have got a cold spot in nostril. George a little better. Had good supper of milk etc. also got candles.

[Digital page 26]

Dec 14th           Got orders to move. Walked ½ kilo & stopped. Played cards. Had good supper of pork. Also milk for breakfast. Padrone spoke English.

Dec 15th            Good breakfast. Minestra [soup] brought to us. Porky heated Polenta & all had good dinner. Cards again. Tried at 3 houses. Milk at the latter.

Dec 16th           Good sleep. Breakfast brought to us. Very misty but room cleared. Moved on & found casota just a few kilos dist. Just as we were going for food, the padrones son & daughter brought some. A good meal of bread, cheese, wine & fruit. Also straw was got, & 2 Nationalecigs.

Dec 17th            A good kip & breakfast of Café-late & bread & jam & tobacco brought to us. Washed, shaved etc & played cards all day. Food again brought at 4, & plenty of it. Minestra [soup] ½ Kil, jam, bread, wine, & apples & boiled potatoes.

Dec 18th            A better sleep & wakened by arrival of breakfast of Café late, bread, wine etc also ½ kilo jam. Moved off about 10 & crossed road & rail. Saw 2 troop trains going east. Stopped at 1 for boiled milk etc, & a little further on found casota & decided to stop there. Went for haircut & met fellow who took all four to tea. Got 2 litres of milk for breakfast & 1 bale of straw. Had hard job to get straw back. Also met woman who knew all the old war songs.

Dec 19th            Played cards after breakfast. Got another invite to tea but had to refuse it. Had tea & went into osteria. Got a little sozzled & went into another stall to finish the night off. Left at 11-30. Met fellow who spoke a little English. Sing Song in bed.

Dec 20th            Breakfast at 12. Mate came to see us off. Walked from 3 to 6 with halt near road. Went to house & had good feed but passed out, long way to walk through feet of mud. Brought milk bread apples & vino back, also tobacco, matches & papers.

Dec 21st            Woke up with bad head. Washed, shaved etc Very misty today. Sun came out. Milk etc for dinner. Good tea of spaghetti & pork, vino etc. Played cards for hours.

Dec 22nd           Rain all night & all day. Breakfast of milk & bread. Dinner of 3 apples just. Played cards, brushed pants & repaired same. Also darned socks. Food up at night, & a good one. Again played cards.

Dec 23rd            My birthday today & I had my ears well pulled. Left after dinner during a little drizzle. Spent 2 hrs in casota near Veronella & arrived at 7. to find the lad again a soldier & Umb [Umberto?] staying there. George in mountains & heard of Fred having broken an arm. Rather freezing reception by M, but can understand.

[Digital page 27]

Dec 24th            In bed until 10. Played cards all day. Cleaning in house & it looks well. Surprisingly the Xmas preparations are nil.

Dec 25th            Xmas Day & nothing like a blighty one. Played cards in caserma. Good dinner & tea. Played tombola at night.

Dec 26th           Boxing Day & Morry’s [Maurice, Jimmy’s brother -in-law] Birthday today. Rather a fine day & spent it playing cards. Have heard from F.G. [Giuseppe Fochesato?]of Giovanni [Spimpolo] giving himself up owing to sickness. Had visit from 2 women of Cerea & heard of Bob & Len’s battle with the Fascisti. Played Tombola at night. Also had a visit from Della M.

Dec 27th            Very frosty. Played cards all day. Heard of probable raid on Lenago [Legnago]. Played cards. Bombing nearby.

Dec 28th            Very frosty. Heavy bombardment nearby. 2 of our planes shot down. Played bridge. Visit from them of Cerea, plenty clothes. A lot of fun at night trying them out.

Dec 29th            Very cold today & awoke with splitting headache. Took pills. Again Bombing nearby. Visit from Fuglio & Ferruchio,

Dec 30th            In house all day. Visit from Alda. Again Bombing. Played cards. Berto came Home at 2 in the morning.

Jan 1st 1944      Plenty Visitors from Mantova, Cerea, Minerbe. Played very little cards. Had 12 yr old vino.

Jan 2nd              Good dinner of Niochi & “Diamonds”. Visit from Adella & Tanino. Played cards a little. Visit from Aldo & Ferruchio, Also one from Gino with news of a flap. Decided to move tomorrow.

Jan 3rd               Packed & moved after breakfast. Dined well at Micheloria. Got to Casota V. to find straw gone. Dined with a German woman at night. Spent hours in stall & left at 12. Had to pinch straw.

Jan 4th               Slept until12. Had Chi Cina at Old Ladys. Cow ate Porky’s hat. Got milk for breakfast. Played cards.

Jan 5th               Slept late again. Plenty visitors. Went out to eat at L. The others went to V. Got milk again for B.

Jan 6th               Festa & plenty visitors with wine etc. Played cards. In afternoon visit from M & Spagg 3 bags of grub, 4 L Vino. Invited to Cina. A good night & an extra bale of straw. Met a swell pusher.

[Digital page 28]

Jan 7th               Played cards all day. Went out to tea at the miser’s & he did us real proud. Met Guido. Morry all over. Still very frosty. Had English woodbines*. [*Cigarette brand]

Jan 8th               Cold again. Played cards. Went to tea at G’s. A lovely young wife. Drank tea out of coffee cups. I broke a fork. A real good night & so to bed.

Jan 9th               Sunday. Split up and I went to Padrone’s. A whacking big feed & bags of vino. All went to bed ½ drunk. Porky would sleep on my hat. Had 4 from Stef.M.& Fuglio with other, 2 from Cor. Brought grub, wine, tobacco & clothes. Milk brought for B.

Jan 10th             Another visit from those of Cerea & they brought pants, shirt, tie, candles, graipa [grappa?], eggs, vino, bread matches. Dined at Alberto & had a really good scoff of chicken, tea etc. 2 girls brought milk for B.

Jan 11th             Visit from Mario & Aldo. Brought matches & took away clothes. Dined at the contraband merchants place. Very nice sister.

Jan 12th             Shaved et. Visit from lad from Vols. Late in going to tea, but had good one of chicken. Left late after saying goodbye to all including Guido’s wife. Drank graipa at A’s got more woodbines. Went for milk at V. Stayed there till 12.

Jan 13th            Had visit from Priest. A proper lad. Went for haircut but barber closed. Packed up & left at 3.30. Got to the hut just. Went for scoff & found things not so good.

Jan 14th             In casota all day playing cards. Left at dusk & went to farm by river. Had tea & slept in farm.

Jan 15th             Breakfast & off at 9. Spent day in casota, had haircut & shave in Arcolea. Came back to hut at 7. Met lads bringing scoff & had to be off on mond.[Monday?]

Jan 16th             Slept well. George got Mantetta. Sun. Played cards all day. Met lad with grub. Stan & I went at night! Played cards all night. Thaw.

Jan 17th             Awoke late; had breakfast, wash & off at 11-30, Stopped in casota of Veronella. At Mickel had drink & smokes given. Got to house at 8. Very foggy.

Jan 18th             Woke at 11-30. Wash, shave etc. Still foggy. Played cards etc. Uncle came.

Jan 19th             Again late in getting up. Uncle working. A little work on wood.

Jan 20th             Uncle left. Work on wood. Visit from Fuglio. Played cards.

Jan 21st             Broke last of wood. Still foggy & Icy. Visit from Corian & M.M.

(N.B. Notebook was ripped here and he continued using a half width page so just short notes)

[Digital page 29]

Jan 22nd            In all day. Played cards etc.

Jan 23rd             Sunday. In all day. Cards etc. Plenty visitors. Played Tombola.

Jan 24th            Foggy again, but thaw set in. Visit from M.M. Sun out

Jan 25th            Took down an apple tree. Rain all afternoon.

Jan 26th            Sun came out. George & Sly took down apple tree. Fruit from BO

Jan 27th            Beautiful day again. Gathered 3 bundles of wood. Visit from Aldo, Tamino & Umberto. Visit from George Allen.

Jan 28th             A little work on fence. Girl from Coriano. Aldo came. 75 planes bombed Verona etc Also at night.

Jan 29th             Distant bombing. Fence finished. Aldo again. Collected more wood.

Jan 30th             Sun. Visit from M.M. Played bowls etc with Fedglo

Jan 31st             Last day of month. Foggy. Spent day shipping/skipping. Visit from Spagna [Gino or Giovanni?] with tale of British officer in Verona. Tall trash.

Feb 1st               New month & we hope it brings something good. Usual day.

Feb 2nd              Visit from the 2 rogues with shirts etc. Caused a stir is S. Step. [Santo Stefano?] So decided to send them back.

Feb 3rd              Kit sent back but my chitty not returned. Heard news. Fruit from Beppo.

Feb 4th              Unwound twine [for vine support?], usual day. Weather marvellous (windy).

Feb 5th              Usual day. Unwound twine got some wood etc.

Feb 6th              Sun. Visitors all day. Very windy. George walked through M. [Minerbe?]

Feb 7th              Saw Fulgio. Heard news. Visit from Aldo & danger of visit from 2 Rogues. Good walk round at night.

Feb 8th              Unwound lots of twine. Picked up wood. Repaired scissors and pumps. Locked M in hen hut. Visit from son of Spagna. Vino & fags. Others went to Del Mondo’s

(End of the log in that notebook. The remainder is filled with his notes on English/Italian translations e.g. verbs & how to conjugate them).

[Digital page 30]

[Transcriber’s note]: I found 6 loose pages from a smaller notebook which are severely faded and have tried to make some sense of them below:

[Transcriber’s note] This page was very difficult to decipher]

[Transcriber’s note] Probably March 1944

16th       A little digging, believing Mines.  Healthy ??? Magne digging. Porky on with basket. Found I had or dig.

17th      Went Zevio to see friends. A good day & a 70 kit, ride. Went to Beppo’s ?????  ?????. Pants, tobacco, Rice, many ????

18th       Beautiful day. George & Stan working a little sore from ???? ????????.

19th        Sunday. Bert [Umberto] came again for weeks, ????? All the chickens fou???????? From Rosa Sugar M.

20th       ??? lot of illness. Thunder at night. Visit from the Med.

21st       Bert left early. Got rid of my cold. Porky stood on a chicken but it continued to live ??? First day of spring.

22nd      Nothing unusual ???? coming but at about 4 clock came overhead, mor ????? engaged to our Flying Fortresses & also innumerable fighters in the sky bombing Verona..No German fighters other than ???ka??? 300ft. Not a lot of A.A. 60 Bombers passed by on way back. Welex & Paloma.

April      In the past couple ?????  stabbing almost of ??? ????? ??? going on around here  ??? ??? Day & night striking at Verona ??? Vicenza & numerous other places. Also large forces have been passing over  ?? Germany Yugoslavia etc.

[Digital page 31]

[Several lines unreadable on this page]

2nd        Left for L & arrived at 9 p.m. ???  ?? to ?????winning, swam in Valpone

3/4th     Now at V. Plenty rain. In last ???????? ??????? ??????? ????? Chertianga-Siestre taken over by our boys. Saw officials

5th        Saw Capo. Verona heavily bombed for 2 hr. Saw our planes in the sunlight low altitude. Two came over us. Large formation of bombers over the ??? [area]. Bombs dropped locally, after ????  ?????.  ??????? again active

[Transcriber’s note] Yet another page with lots of very faded writing

             Another upset from Bombing ???  ?????. Hope to see Rosa at Bof [Bonifacio?] Rained . Played cards.

7th        First up & dull day. Rain came on & ??? Maria’s shoes.

8th        Porky cut off moustache. Much to surprise of the family. R.A.F. over bombing. Lighter bombers. Bert in Verona. A lot of work on ???? & fencing.

9th         Usual day.

10th       Another fine day. Helped on spuds.

11th       Helped on spuds again but ailed. Went to Balbos was annoyed that the girls didn’t go

12th       Lot of R.A.F. about.

Sunday beautiful day hot & windy. Went for a walk with Stan & found house.

13th      We stayed put, cut poles tied vines & sowed spuds  dug a little.

14th       Hoed wheat, dug a little small aeroplane & kit, half  ??????? no good string, no food

[Digital page 32]

[Transcriber’s note] No date at top of this page, possibly May 1944  ?????  ?????? ??????  R.A.F.

12th      Lovely day & R.A.F. Hope to leave soon. Persuaded to stay another day.

13th      Left to sleep at B’s. left when R.A.F. Bombed Verona

14th      Up early. Saw Carlo & Maria. Also son of Beppo. Dinner at Mechanicos’. Tea & B start Bar. Our old friend busy on Thresher. (20 fags.

15th      Off to Bel. Dinner in campi & fags from Fat fellow. Arrived late but saw the boys

16th       Sunday Good day (Crossed Adige saw friends) Went for a walk in afternoon to friends of [Gemma/Gino]

Stayed in area till //// morn. Went in Val.

Big flap at Volp but stayed ??  ????   ???? Hair cut & sleeping in Mell. Slept at old friends ?????

[Transcriber’s note] Several lines of writing are unreadable on this page. This is what I could make out

30th       ???? in strong casota. Although ??? is sick, milk etc appeared.

31st       Up at 4-30. Milk & bread at 7-30. Went & got washed up etc. Ate at Gaga’s.  ?????  ?????? L  ??? 9-30. Milk, loaf

1st June  Not a lot to eat at present. Slept at casota.

2nd        Up & away. Ate Mory’s & bread for ????? and Dined on Pasta Suta.

3rd         Little to eat. Went for dinner. Got caught in rain. Soaked.

4th         Sunday.Breakfast Spuds & egg for dinner. Volponia came up with grub. Reds coffee & vino from G. Unable to eat at night.

5th        2nd anniversary of my capture [i.e. this is therefore June 1944]. Rome fallen. Good scoff from Volp. Spuds again

7th        Invasion started 11,000 bombers, 4,000 ships & 4 divs of parachutists. ??nds again. 20 fags ??? [ Presumably Jimmy is referring to the Normandy Landings on D-Day June 6th 1944]

[Transcriber’s note] Editor’s note: On the next page are a group of photographs of a number of people who helped the Allied servicemen hiding from the German Army from 1943 to 1945. Unfortunately I do not know most of their names, but thank them for their great humanity and friendship shown to my Dad

[Digital page 33]

Jimmy & George in front
Giovanni Spagnia (L), Bruno & 2 unknowns
Stan, Jimmy, Porky & George c 1945

[Photographs with captions]:
Giuseppe Fochesato;
Giovanni Simpolo;
Arrowed with L-R Porky, Jimmy, George & Stan;
Stan Jimmy Porky & George c1945;
Giovanni Spagnia (L), Bruno and 2 unknowns;
Jimmy & George in front.

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