After escaping from an Italian POW Camp, Robert Thurgood and his fellow escapees spent many months living and working amongst the Italian farmers. Despite several attempts, they were unsuccessful in reaching the Allied lines. With unfailing good humour and optimism, they continued to evade the Germans, aided and assisted by the local Italians who fed and sheltered them. Eventually they heard over the radio that the British had occupied Ascoli. They made their way there, Robert saw his brother by chance and they were all transported home.
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.
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by Robert Thurgood
My army life, from September 1939 up to the time of being put in “the bag” in Africa, was the usual one, dull at times, exciting at others, but one no doubt experienced by many readers, so I will start my story about two days after Italy was invaded by the Allied Forces, in September 1943.
I was in Campo Concentramento P.G. 53, behind the German lines in Italy, and at this period routine in the camp became very confused; one day two British M.O.s – the only British Officers there, would take charge; the next the Italian Commandant, a small, fat, pompous man, would re-assert what remained of his authority and take over, strutting about like a peacock. All the time the ‘Itie’ sentries were mounting guard around the walls and wire – the whole scene reminding us of some fantastic comic opera.
One day when the M.Os were in command they put the B.B.C. news over the loudspeaker. The British had made a 75 mile dash and captured Bari.
You can imagine our excitement! Hopes ran high, and we reckoned on them reaching our point in about ten days – we lay about 30 miles inland from Ancona.
As events turned out this proved to be wishful thinking.
Of the original eleven men of our Observation Post R.A. we were now seven. Two were killed on the day of our capture by Herman Goering’s Parachute Regiment, one was wounded and left in a Jerry Clearing Station, and the other died in the P.O.W. Hospital near Naples.
Time was getting short; I felt sure the Germans wouldn’t leave our camp to be liberated if they could avoid it. There were about 7,000 prisoners, and, if there waas time, Jerry would certainly cart us off to Germany.
Then came a lucky break. In one section of the wall was a small gate, permanently guarded by Itie sentries.
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On this particular day, one of them threw down his water bottle and asked me to fill it for him. I did so, and on returning it, he drew my attention by opening his army tunic to show me that underneath he was wearing civvy clothes. I understood from his signs that he was getting ready to make off to his wife and bambino, and thought that the War was over for them.
I passed the word round to a few of the boys, and we squatted near the gate and made ready. We each had a Red Cross parcel – about enough food for seven days each – if you are a small eater; and after talking it over, decided that it would be safer to take to the hills and wait rather than be left sitting pigeons for Jerry.
Four of our post, including our sergeant, decided against taking a chance on the outside, arguing that the Italians were mostly Fascists and unfriendly. They pinned their hopes on being liberated by the advancing British Army. A Ryton chap, we had palled up, joined us and so made up our party of four.
In the afternoon the cook-house whistles went for grub – cabbage water with a few pieces of macaroni floating on top – but we stuck to our watch near the gate for our sentry to disappear. About 4 o’clock he slid off his perch on the wall and way across the fields he went. Further along the line were other empty perches, so we slid quickly under the wire, opened the gate and were outside at last, running as fast as we could for the hills. Pausing for a breather we looked back and saw others leaving, and found out later that about two or three hundred had left at the same time as we had.
Two hours later we were a few miles away and beginning to climb into the foothills, passing numerous white farm houses from which peasants came running offering us jugs of vino. We were too cautious to stop and just waved and pressed on at full speed.
Looking back later we could see the main road and a dozen or more Jerry armoured cars tearing along in the direction of our late ‘Home’.
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They took it over the same night, and we learned later all who remained in the camp were sent to Germany.
Free again, the surroundings seemed like Paradise to four people; Les, a cockney; Benny from Gateshead; Wally from Ryton and myself. Wally was a butcher and his training was to stand us in good stead later.
The only word of Italian we knew was “Aqua” which really isn’t an adequate vocabulary in a foreign country, but we didn’t think of difficulties at that moment; all we thought of was our regained freedom.
Feeling on top of the world we stopped in a field to tear the tell-tale red patches off our tunics and trouser. All around us hung bunches of luscious black and green grapes, and a little further away we could see trees full of ripe apples, peaches and cherries. Excitedly we stuffed ourselves with these unaccustomed luxuries like schoolboys on an orchard raid – and suffered for it later. After an hour or two we were all holding our stomachs – racked with severe indigestion, which however, soon passed away.
We quickly regained our high spirits and held a council and decided that all we had to do was to lie low for seven or eight days – an estimate which proved entirely inadequate, as long, weary months were to drag by before we reached safety at last.
We planned to get as near to the mountains as possible, then make our way southward, travelling by night and sleeping by day. We had enough knowledge of the stars to keep us in the right direction and that night we set off. It was tough going. We had to keep well away from the roads, the fields had been ploughed up after the corn crops, and the countryside was very rough, all hills and dales. We had some very narrow escapes from disaster that night while traversing gullies that were in our line of travel. Some we simply fell into in the darkness, others we were able to by-pass by making a detour, but when there was no other way we had to take a chance and slide down on our rumps and hope for the best. Fortunately there were no limbs broken – a remarkable thing considering the risks we ran.
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We had a few anxious moments when we thought that we could see search parties carrying lanterns looking for us. We heaved a sigh of relief when we found that the lights that had scared us were fire-flies.
I think we covered about ten miles on the first journey and as dawn was breaking we found ourselves in a valley through which a stream was running. Choosing the best hide-out we could find, we had a much needed wash, made ourselves a meal from our pooled rations and, being very weary, decided to get some sleep.
We had congratulated ourselves on being safe from prying eyes, but our self-satisfaction was short lived for within a couple of hours we had a visitor. Fortunately he was a friendly old chap and had brought us a basket of food – a loaf of breach, a bottle of wine, salami and some grapes.
With the help of many elaborate gestures and after the usual misunderstandings, he managed to convey to us that he had maps at his house which would be of great help to us. We thanked him to the best of our linguistic ability and he went away promising to return later with the plans and some more food.
Sure enough he kept his promise and turned up later that day bringing with him two other chaps who asked if they could join us. The spokesman was an Austrian Jew named Ernesto who could speak fairly good English. He told us that he and his companion, who was Paulo – a Russian, had just escaped from an internment camp, but as they both spoke good Italian, the peasants were suspicious of them, thinking they were Blackshirts and refused to give them any food.
We agreed to them joining forces with us, and, after sharing a meal, Ernesto said that he and Paulo would go into the village and try to get the latest news from the radio in the canteen. Having arranged to meet us later, Ernesto turned to his companion, who hadn’t taken any part in the conversation as he knew no English and spoke to him ——- in German.
To be continued in next issue.
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“SCAPPATA” (A Serial by Robert. Thurgood)
When they had left, our suspicions started to run riot. Giving full rein to our imaginations, we firmly convinced ourselves that they were Germans, and had returned to report, so we decided to move to a spot higher up the valley, and keep watch on our old hide. We took turns on guard, but they didn’t return that night.
Our original plans were changed and we thought that, as it was hopeless to travel in the dark, a few days in this area would not do any harm – especially as we seemed to be assured of food.
The next morning we saw our two internees coming down the valley, and as they were alone, we hailed them, and asked them what had happened. Ernesto explained that they had been unable to get into the village, and had slept in an empty house nearby. They had heard that the Fascists were expected any moment, and urged us to push on immediately. We then taxed them about speaking in German, but Ernesto explained that although he could speak four languages and Paulo six, German was the easiest for both.
We then held a hurried conference, and decided to take their advice. It took us very few minutes to get ready, and we set off, following the bed of the stream all that day, until it was too dark to see. We had stopped on the side of a very steep valley, and could not find a flat piece of ground big enough to lie down on.
Ernesto started to moan about the cold, and wanted to light a fire. After we told him our opinion of his idea, we huddled together against the side the valley, and unsuccessfully tried to warm our six shivering bodies with two overcoats and a groundsheet.
It was a real miserable night, damp and cold.
Next morning we arose, stiff, cold and unhappy. We stamped about trying to get some warmth into our shivering limbs. Wally, however, was unable to move, and just lay there shivering and sweating – really ill. We had seen enough in our army life to know what the trouble was – malaria – and a pretty bad attack. Here was something for which we had never bargained!!
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However, we had to make the best of a bad situation, and waiting until the worst of his present spasm was over, we pressed on a few hundred yards up the valley to a patch of ground which was fairly flat. Here we improvised a lean-to covered by the groundsheet; in this we made our patient as comfortable as we could with our overcoats. We then made a very meagre meal from our fast diminishing rations, and, there being nothing else we could do, just sat and waited.
Later that afternoon we were amazed to see the figure of a woman descending the sheer side of the valley. On reaching the bottom, we saw that she was a peasant woman collecting grass and herbs, and hailing her, we sent Paulo to explain our position. Although she was very frightened, she said she would return later with her husband, and bring us some food.
She kept her promise, and within an hour, came down the same path with a basket on her head, accompanied by a man, whom she introduced as her husband, Vincenzo. He was the most villainous looking chap I had ever seen, but as subsequent events proved, his appearance belied him, as he had a heart of gold.
The basket contained food and a flask of vino, which we polished off very quickly, and soon felt better, and full of new hope.
Vincenzo, through our interpreter Paulo and Ernesto, invited us to spend the night in his stall, which, in the smaller farms, is always under the bedroom of the house.
We, of course, were delighted to accept his hospitality, and after making arrangements for a guide at dusk that night, Vincenzo and his wife left.
The guide turned up in the shape of his small daughter, who said she would show us the “easy” way up.
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The next hour was like a nightmare. Wally bravely tried to walk, but it wasn’t long before we were carrying him where it was possible, but having to drag him up especially steep slopes. When we at last reached the top, we flopped down utterly exhausted.
Our new friend Vincenzo was there to meet us, and he carried Wally the rest of the distance to a small group of buildings which showed up faintly on the sky line. Two of these were the homes of our host and a friendly neighbour, and the other an old broken down barn, which sheltered two oxen.
It was now quite dark, and the six of us crowded into the barn beside the oxen, and, making our invalid as comfortable as possible with fresh straw, we turned in and had a good rest in this comparative luxury.
Vincenzo had warned us that we would have to leave at daybreak, and we rose bright and early, only to find Wally was worse. We decided that we must somehow get a doctor to attend to him, and sent Paulo to plead with Vincenzo. After a great deal of argument he promised to go into the village, and try to get a doctor to call.
Whilst he was away, we held a council and decided that we should split our party into two; Ernesto, Les and myself to leave and Paulo and Benny to stay with Wally. Thus we had one in each party who could speak Italian. Before leaving, we waited to see if the doctor would turn up, but after considerable time Vincenzo returned alone, explaining that the local medico would not risk coming to the house. He had, however, sent some quinine tablets, and promised to come in a day or two, if the patient did not improve.
There being nothing further we could do, our party pushed off to make our own way back to the empty house, which Ernesto said he could find again. Sure enough just before night set in, he did. We crowded into the one corner that remained covered by the
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dilapidated roof and, having left our coats to keep Wally warm, covered ourselves with straw, and were soon asleep.
We were very hungry when we awoke next morning and we went out to try and make some contacts for grub. We saw some peasants working in the fields nearby, and made our way towards them. Imagine our delight when we recognised one to be our old friend Luigi, the chap who had given us our first meal. He was very sincere and voluble in his welcome, and after we had explained our plight, arranged for us to work in exchange for our food.
I was soon up the ladders quite enjoying myself, filling the wooden pails with grapes. The women carried these on their heads to a large vat, into which the fruit was tipped. We collected most of the day, then Luigi invited me to help his son with the stamping of the grapes. They found me a pair of shorts, and Luigi’s soon, Augustino, and I jumped into the vat and began stamping.
They were all very amused by my efforts, as I was soon using my knees and elbows, and even rolling about up to my eyes in grapes. The vat had a hole in it through which the grape juice ran, and soon two barrels were filled with this “crudo” as they called it.
This would be ready for drinking in about six weeks’ time, and the rest was to be boiled and stored. The longer it was kept, the better it would be. It was boiling with vengeance; they built a fire underneath a huge cauldron placed by the side of the ditch, and settled down to spend the night stoking the fire, and stirring the wine. As it was now about three o’clock in the morning, we made our way back to the “house”, feeling very tired, but in good spirits.
We worked with our peasant friends for three days, moving from farm to farm. Three days of glorious weather, good companionship and good food. Everything seemed so peaceful, but in case of danger, they had
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evolved a system of communication, by shouting from one farm to another. They told us that if any Germans or Fascists turned up in the vicinity, the code message “the pigs are in the corn” would warn us of their approach.
It was all too good to last, and early one morning the spell of fine weather broke. We were awakened by the rain pouring through our flimsy roof, and to add to our discomfort, one of the women came with some bad news for us. A lorry load of Germans had pulled into the village, and were going to search the farms for deserters and classes who had failed to report.
We wanted to stay put, but she was very scared and pleaded with us to leave, as, if we were found on her land, her farm would be burnt. She had been very kind to us, so we promised to move on.
So, once more, we made our way into the valley; soaked to the skin – fugitives – again!!!
(To be continued)
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“SCAPPATA” (A Serial by Robert. Thurgood)
The story so far:-
In Sept. 1943, the author and three companions escaped from a P.O.W. Camp behind the German lines in Italy. After many thrilling adventures they thought they had eluded the enemy, only to find that the Germans had entered the village where they had been hiding for several days.
We had for our objective a farm on the other side of the valley, but the fact that we had underestimated the distance, the rough going, and having to make some detours, we found ourselves well off our tracks.
We found a crude straw built lean-to in a field and crowded into it for shelter from the pelting downpour. After about an hour, a small girl turned up with some overcoats for us, and an invitation to a nearby farmhouse. The family had been watching us for some time, and on reaching the house, we found that they were friends of our Vincenzo. They made us very welcome and told us they had news of Wally, who was much the same. The doctor had visited him, and found that he was suffering from bronchitis and malaria. We dried our clothes, had a good meal, and were fixed up with a straw bed in the stall.
The next morning the farmer went to the village of Sant Angelo to see the ‘padrone’ (landlord) to ask permission for us to stay and help on the farm. When he returned he explained the position to Ernesto, who in turn told us that he was the only one who had been invited to stay, and that Les and I must go.
After we had eaten, we collected our small packs and went to say good-bye to the farmer and to thank him for his kindness. He was amazed, and by removing our packs, and making many gestures, made us understand that he wished us to stay.
Ernesto of course, thinking he had found a safe haven, and knowing that we were unable to protest owing to our ignorance of the language, was trying to shake us off. We tackled him, and after a lot of
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blustering he admitted that he had been mistaken and that the three of us were to stay. We decided there and then that he was not to trusted, and for the next few days I was constantly at him with pencil and paper, getting him to write down words and phrases in Italian. I lost no time in practising these, until I was able to ask the names of things and was soon slowly talking enough crude Italian to make myself understood.
It was soon obvious that it was cheap labour they wanted on the farm, and our days were long. It was up at the crack of dawn, and hard work in the fields until dusk, using a huge type of hoe to break up the soil. But our meals were regular, and we were able to visit Wally, Benny and Paulo. They were fortunate in being lodged with Vincenzo, who was one of the very few Italians who didn’t scare at the mention of Germans. Wally was now on the mend.
After working a fortnight on this farm, I was delighted to meet Luigi and his son “Gus”, who asked me to come and stay at their house. Naturally I accepted. Les and Ernesto both wanted to come with me, so next day we all paid Luigi a visit. His house, however, was very small and he could only take two of us. Ernesto returned to the other farm – alone.
For a while everything went well in our new home. We had frequent visits from Paulo and Benny, who brought us news of Wally – now fast recovering. The war situation had changed considerably by this time. The Germans had formed a line at Pescara, and the Allied advance was halted.
Conditions in our area were so peaceful that one Sunday morning, we accepted Luigi’s invitation to accompany him to church. He made it a very special occasion, telling his son Augustino to stay at home and lend me his best suit and shirt. I arrayed myself in the borrowed finery and we set off.
Nearing the village we were called to a nearby farmhouse to have a drink of wine with one of Luigi’s friends. He entertained us so long that when we arrived at the church the service had started. Not wishing to draw attention to ourselves by our late arrival, we decided to go to the next village to visit an uncle of Luigi.
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We had just turned off the road to the farm track when two lorry loads of Germans roared past. They pulled up at the church and surrounded it. We immediately went into hiding, and from the distance heard shots being fired. We also saw two figures running away across the fields. About two hours later we heard the lorries returning to their base, and we went back to the village to hear the news. There had been four English boys in the church; two had escaped through a rear door but the others had been captured.
Our kind host was very shaken by this incident, and, for his peace of mind, Les and I decided to make plans for another move. We contacted the rest of the boys, and as Wally was now fairly fit, we thought that we would give our original plan another try. Ernesto decided to take a chance and stay, so Ben, Wally, Les, Paulo and I collected as much food as possible and after much shedding of tears by our Italian friends, we set off.
I won’t waste much time on this attempt, as it was a hopeless failure. After a fortnight of narrow squeaks during which time we lived on fruit from the trees, since we could get little help from the peasants – some of whom were openly hostile – we were back again. We crawled into Vincenzo’s farm about two o’clock one morning, and dropped into the straw of our old stall again, bedraggled, disappointed, but not beaten.
The locals seemed to have recovered their nerve after the last scene, and Les and I settled once more at the farm of our friend Luigi.
A few nights later, Wally and Ben sent word very secretly, to go to Vincenzo’s farm, where they were killing a young ox. This of course was pure black market, subject to all sorts of dreadful penalties, so we were warned to keep very quiet. We crept through the dark farm, and there saw the whole place lit up and dozens of people standing round drinking and shouting excitedly. At first we thought they must have been discovered by the authorities, but soon found that this was their way of keeping things “quiet”. That night we fed on fresh meat.
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This was the start of Wally and Benny helping Vincenzo with a black market venture on a big scale. Up to this time he had only killed for a few friends, but now he gave up working on his farm, and devoted all his time to buying calves from the neighbouring countryside. He would return, half tipsy, from his trip, wink his eye at Wally and tap his nose. This meant that he had been successful, and that there would be a killing at dawn the next morning. Although strict secrecy was observed throughout, and everyone swore that nobody had been told, there was always a crowd assembled ready with baskets, cloths or papers.
The carcass was cut up, and sold and the skin buried within an hour. Vincenzo soon became an important man, and made a lot of money.
As the winter was approaching, we made one more attempt to get back to our own lines. We had been told that if we got to the coast about thirty miles away, we had a chance of being picked up by a boat. We reached the coast all right, but again our hopes were dashed. The previous night a party of about thirty men had collected and had been discovered by the German guards as they tried to slip past. The guards had opened fire, scattered them, and were now organising search parties to visit all the farms in the vicinity.
Seeing no use hanging about and sticking our necks out, we decided that the venture was another miserable failure, and made our way back to “Headquarters”.
(To be continued.)
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“SCAPPATA” (A Serial by Robert. Thurgood)
The story so far:
The author and three companions escaped from a German P.O.W. Camp behind the German lines in Italy. They heard that many captured prisoners had reached the coast where they were picked up by a boat. The four decided to try their luck, only to find German guards waiting at the beach. Disheartened, they returned to “Headquarters”……… Now read on.
Winter soon set in and we were confined to our respective farms as the heavy snows soon made all except the main roads impassable. We were fairly secure as, although we could not get out, no one could get in. But with the thaw, things started to move with a vengeance.
The Germans and Blackshirts started a well-planned search of the countryside for deserters and escaped P.O.W.s. Planes dropped pamphlets and notices were posted in the villages warning villagers that if they were found harbouring prisoners, their homes would be burned to the ground.
This was no idle threat as we soon realised, and it wasn’t long before we had first hand evidence of their activities. A few days later we say a truck moving up the track to an adjoining farm; uniformed figures piled out and surrounding the house and began searching the outhouse. They flung some grenades at a haystack which soon became a blazing mass. This was the last straw for Luigi – a blow below the belt. He explained that without hay there would be no food for his oxen, and without oxen he could not plough his land, and so on … He looked at his haystack, then at Les and me – and settled for the haystack!
So we parted once more, with tears and good wishes from him and his family, and made our way towards our friend Vincenzo’s farm. We arrived just before night fall and told our story. Vincenzo gallantly stuck to his guns and told Wally and Benny that they could stay put if they wanted to. They had built a little “hide” down in the valley, while Paulo was installed in an adjoining farm. We decided not to sleep in the house that night, so went down the valley and settled there, taking turns on guard. It was a bitterly cold night,
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but all passed quietly. Next morning we returned to the house, and as Vincenzo had now heard the full story, he told us that he would take us all to an area further south until the situation improved. He had a relative there where at least two of us could stay, and the rest of us could get fixed up in farms in the district. We arrived in the early afternoon, and Vincenzo’s relative made us all welcome and gave us a good meal. She was an old lady and as she and her daughter were all alone, she was only too pleased to take in Wally and Benny to help on the farm. There were three other farms in the district so Paulo, and Les had no difficulty in finding someone to take them in. I was selected by Constanza – quite a wealthy lady by Italian standards as she owned six farms. I soon learned that she wanted her pound of flesh. Up before dawn to “muck” out the ox stalls, then out in the fields and hard at it till dusk. But the food was excellent, and I had a very nice bedroom to myself, so I didn’t complain.
Three months passed quietly, and then the Partisans came to the village. I contacted them and managed to get them some sacks of grain. They told me stories of our planes dropping supplies behind the lines. Not long afterwards we saw six Spitfires fly over, and saw something drop from one of them. I chased after it for over two miles, and found a big cylinder lying on the ground …. it was an empty petrol tank!!
The partisans, a band of about a dozen strong, had taken a prisoner. He turned out to be the local “vet”, whose only crime was possessing a Fascist card which enabled him to carry on his profession. I think they realised they had made a mistake, but they were scared to release him in case he contacted “Jerry” – so to save themselves any embarrassment – they shot him!! This frightened the locals out of their wits, so we thought it a good policy to make ourselves scarce for a couple of days.
We paid a visit to Luigi, who was quite pleased to see us and put us up for the night in a little “lean-to” in his field. Early next morning we were awakened by a burst of firing from an automatic, and on arriving at the house, we found Luigi in a very nervous state. The band of partisans had travelled the same road as we had, and had held up the small village of San Lorenzo, robbed the small store of everything of value and finished up in the canteen.
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Later there was a drunken quarrel and the leader shot one of his band in the back of the head with a Stengun. They cleared out – leaving the body behind.
After a couple of days’ wandering we returned to Constanza’s farm, where we heard some good news. Rome had fallen and the Germans were pulling out on our side of the coast. This soon proved to be true, and the main road was one continual stream of traffic. For nearly a fortnight the Germans poured through, then the heavy traffic thinned out and they began to appear on foot or with horse and ox carts.
When we heard over the radio that the British had occupied Ascoli, which was about 40 miles south of us, and had seen no signs of retreating Germans for two days, I decided to pay a visit to Wally and Benny with a view to making a break for Ascoli. I spent the day with them, and made arrangements to meet them the next day to make our effort. On my way back I had to go through the outskirts of the village, and, to make sure, I asked an Italian about conditions there. He told me that all was quiet, so I hurried on, turned the corner and walked straight into a bunch of about thirty Germans resting by the road side. I swung round, and with my heart in my mouth, walked smartly back on my tracks. Needless to say, I spent that night with Vincenzo.
Next day we met, collected what food we could, and bade our kind friends farewell. We walked to the village where we met a Scotch lad who told us he had just been talking to an English major, who had been passing through in a jeep. We couldn’t believe him at first, but he produced conclusive evidence – the fag end of a Craven A. That settled our doubts, so with light hearts we started on the last leg of our journey.
We walked about five miles and came to another village where a bunch of Italians put us in touch with a chap who had just motored in from Fermo – about 20 miles away. He told us that the town was occupied by the Poles and offered to run us in, if we would promise to get him some petrol when we go there.
Of course we promised
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and so we finished our journey to liberty in fine style. On reaching Fermo we found everything prepared for us, as they were expecting a large number of Ex-P.O.W.s. We managed to scrounge some petrol for our benefactor, and away he went quite content.
Next day we were put under the care of armed Poles who took us down the lines to be interrogated before being passed O.K. The guards took a dislike to Paulo and said that he was a Polish communist. They shoved him in with German prisoners, but we protested to the Captain and gave him a written statement guaranteeing his integrity. This seemed to satisfy him and he allowed us to be together again.
We landed in a forward camp a couple of days later, made our reports, got rid of our dirty rags, and once more donned the familiar uniform. We were put on a train and told to make our way to Naples, where a boat was “laid on” for us.
At Foggia we drew alongside another train and when we stopped, we were delighted to see that it was crowded with chaps from our own regiment. There was a tremendous uproar and the news was soon passed along the train. Then that million to one shot – my brother was amongst them!! Our re-union was one of the strangest and happiest moments of my life. He gave me all the long awaited news of home, and told me he was on his way back to Bari for a week’s rest. We were soon parted, but as we had to wait three weeks, in Naples for a boat, my brother managed to spend three days with me. Our eldest brother, who was stationed nearly, also joined us and we had three glorious days of celebration, before I sailed for home.
So ended my adventure, an experience which will live in my memory for ever, for although I suffered many hardships and had many dangerous and anxious moments, I also had some very happy times and will treasure memories of the kindly, warm-hearted, hospitable, loyal host of Italians who protected and helped us in our peril, without thought of reward.