George Candy, captured originally in Tobruk in 1942, escaped from Fara Sabrina just two days after the Armistice was declared. He later met up with Bill Williams and Landale Train who travelled through the Italian countryside with him. Throughout their time ‘on the run’, the three escaped POWs were assisted by the local Italian population who provided them with both food and shelter.
The three POWs later made an attempt to reach Allied lines, but this ended in failure when Bill was badly wounded and Train was captured after walking into a German outpost. Candy managed to escape back to a family that had previous helped the three and he remained there for the next two weeks. When Cassino eventually fell to the Allies, Candy returned to the front and easily came across a New Zealand patrol, bringing his time ‘on the run’ to an end.
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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George Candy & Landale Train (S.Africans) via Mrs Lumsden nee Train, via Audrey Capes.
Escaped with the other 4000 from Fara Sabina, where the Italians disappeared 2 days after the Armistice. Captured originally in Tobruk 1942.
Because of rumours of landings around Rome, Candy, like most others from the camp, stayed in the area (Moricone). Candy was soon recaptured but escaped off a train taking him to Germany. They decided to go south and east. At Cese outside Avezzano, they stay with family as the snow makes travelling impossible. When, at end of January, landings taking place at Anzio they go on again. Radio message informs that 2 have got through whom they had met. Parachute drop to them never found. Italian Americans also dropped to help but heard they had been shot. They meet up with Bill Williams. They weave in and out of Germans and are pursued by Germans. They are given shelter at Sora near Cessino by Maria Antonelli who puts them in loft when Germans arrive. They have already crossed the upper Liri River. Maria is known as Inglese as she spoke English. Husband leads them away and they cross the Melfa River and dodge German outposts when Bill W. is badly wounded by an Allied shell. C & T take him to the Germans but get away again themselves. Bill lost an eye but was well treated. Train walks into a G. machine gun post. Candy doubles back to the Antonelli and hides in a reed hut to which they bring him food. 2 weeks later Cassino fell and at a ruined village, Candy found New Zealanders.
Candy returned with his wife in 1976 to find Maria Inglese. Both he and Train live in S.Africa.
* They were ferried across individually by an Italian who did not ask payment.
Account in three letters and one article.
I was born in England incidentally. My father was Commander G.C. Candy O.B.E. He emigrated to South Africa in 1926, when I was 11 years old.
[hand-drawn sketch of the route taken by Candy and Train, showing Cassino, Avezzano and the Gustav Line.]
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[handwritten text] ‘Neon’, December 1977. Issued by Natal Education Dept.
[Title] Incident of the Italian Campaign 1944 – the story of a heroine.
I first met Maria Antonelli in May 1944. It was a hot morning and we were being pursued by German soldiers. After diving into the bushes lining the road, we jumped across a canal furrow, climbed a bank and arrived at the boundary of a small farm, to which vines, cherry trees and a double-story house lent an air of tranquillity. A woman was standing at the door looking in our direction.
We put into operation a plan that had been used many times before to obtain help and sympathy. We went up to her and asked in fluent, if ungrammatical, Italian for a drink of water.
“You’re escaped prigionieri”, she said, noting our dyed army shirts and tattered trousers: clothes that we had worn and slept in for months.
“I can speak English”, she added. It was a signal for us to speak it first and thereby prove that we were not disguised Germans sent to trap her.
Credentials established, the three of us followed her up the outside staircase to a room where she said we could stay till nightfall, when her husband would guide us past the sentry posts and set us on the pathway to the Melfa River.
It is difficult to over-emphasize the risk that our benefactress was taking. She was known to her neighbours as Maria Inglese (having been brought up in Wiltshire), she was on the German list of suspects, she had been interrogated several times and
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[portrait photograph of Maria “Inglese” Antonelli]
had once been so severely assaulted that she suffered a miscarriage and was unable thereafter to have children. Yet we were only three of dozens of ex-prisoners of war whom she helped to reach the front.
Physical comfort is keenest after a period of deprivation. It was bliss just to be indoors, seated at a table, enjoying a temporary (and false) sense of security, while Maria plied us with wine and bread.
We told her that we had been released from the camp at Fara Sabina a few days after the Italian Armistice. In January, Sergeant Landale Train and I had decided to make for the front, having lived until then near Fara in reasonable comfort, helped by friendly contadini. Bad weather forced us to spend several weeks at Cese near Avezzano. News of the Anzio landing drew us over the Simbmini range but we became snowed-up in a forester’s hut near Filettino, where the Fifth Army dropped a party of parachutists to help the many ex-prisoners who tended to congregate in the area. From them we obtained a button compass and a route through the Gustav Line. Before leaving, we were joined by L/Cpl. Bill Williams, a British regular.
It took us four days to reach the hills above Sora, because we wasted time trying to obtain food from villagers who became increasingly more hostile the closer we got to the front. Ahead lay a narrow plain packed with farms, villages, roads, railways, rivers and canals: the base area for the German divisions holding the Cassino sector. It was the sort of place we had avoided during our nine months “on the loose”.
On the following morning, we began the descent and soon found ourselves tramping along a busy country road that led to Isola del Liri. We became part of a procession of peasants carrying baskets, pushing handcarts and driving animals, each intent on surviving another day in German-occupied Italy. They showed no interest in us, although we
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looked like tramps and had long hair at a time when crew-cuts were the vogue. Landale Train was six feet tall and conspicuously blond.
The Germans, fortunately, were even less likely to notice us, as the area teemed with refugees from the front and young men trying to avoid being conscripted into the armed forces of Mussolini’s Said Republic.
Germans were soon to be seen. Near the Liri River, every field and vineyard was occupied by vehicles, stores dumps, ack-ack guns and hospital tents, each under a camouflage net. Most Germans were busy with routine chores but some were marching along the road. The throng of soldiers and civilians reached its greatest intensity when we arrived at the ferry. At this point we got into a huddle and debated how to cross without money or the knowledge of the procedure.
We were rescued from our predicament by an Italian who came across to warn us that we were liable to be asked for our papers by the Carabinieri if we continued to hang about. He took us over the river one by one, paying the fare and whispering instructions while fellow passengers shot covert glances.
On the other side of the river was the main road, along which army vehicles were crawling nose to tail, while military policemen strove to clear the bottleneck. The three of us were reunited in a quiet country lane which was, however, more dangerous to walk along than a busy thoroughfare.
Germans camped in the fields or leaning over gates stared at us suspiciously and even commented on our appearance. Hoping to make ourselves less conspicuous, we walked separately, fifty paces apart, until Bill Williams at the rear came hurrying up to say that a couple of soldiers were following us. We made the error of looking back to confirm that it was true. When we increased our pace, the Germans did the same, so we decided to make a getaway at the next bend in the lane: a manoeuvre that brought us by extraordinary chance to the home of Maria Antonelli, perhaps the only person in the oppressed starving district who was prepared to help us.
When the meal was over, we looked forward to a peaceful
afternoon, but hardly had Maria removed the dishes when she came hurrying up
the stairs again with the news that some Germans had arrived.
“What must we do?” we asked, jumping up. “Run for it or hide?”
“Get in the ceiling!”
Landale climbed on top of a wardrobe and with great difficulty forced open a warped trapdoor. We climbed onto the rafters and reclosed the entrance.
Downstairs, Maria was questioned by a pair of sweating
“Have you seen any escaped prisoners?”
“What do you think?” she replied sarcastically. “I’ve got three of them hiding upstairs. Want to look?”
“Now please. Signora, have you seen any?”
“Of course I haven’t. Anyway, you look pretty hot. Would you like some wine?”
When Giovanni, her husband, returned at dusk, he told us that the sentries who enforced the curfew were less vigilant in the early morning, so at his suggestion we stayed in the room overnight and left before dawn, Giovanni guiding us along a zigzag route to a pathway that led to the Melfa.
[black and white picture of Giovanni Antonelli working on his land]
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[black and white portrait photograph of George Candy in Army uniform]
We crossed the river that afternoon and stayed in the bushes until nightfall, as the area beyond was out of bounds to civilians. The next two nights were spent trying to get through the front in bright moonlight: a nightmarish experience. The attempt ended in disaster. Bill Williams was hit on the forehead by a piece of shrapnel from an Allied shell. Landale and I managed to hand him over to the Germans for treatment without being caught ourselves. I made contact with him after the war and learnt that he had been well looked after, although the injury had caused permanent blindness in one eye.
On the following night, Landale walked unawares into a machine-gun post and was recaptured. He was accused of being a spy and narrowly escaped summary execution. After several uncomfortable days in the Sora gaol, he was sent to Germany with the status of P.O.W. He now farms in the Howick district.
Six days after our setting out, I arrived back at Maria’s house, the sole survivor, having had nothing to eat in the meantime except the food we had carried with us. My presence was a serious embarrassment but Maria and Giovanni rose to the occasion. I was sent to stay in a reed hut on a hillside about three miles distant, food being sent there every day.
A fortnight later Cassino was finally taken and the gunfire became noticeably louder. I left for the front a second time, spending the last evening at the farmhouse. At that time of the year, fireflies appear in a great abundance and I have a vivid memory of standing in the darkness listening to the gunfire and seeing the whole countryside scintillating with the movement of these mysterious insects.
Three days later near the ruined village of Terelle, I encountered a patrol sent forward by the New Zealand Division. At Corps HQ, I gave a full account of the help I had received from Maria Antonelli but, to the best of my knowledge, her heroism was never officially recognized.
In June 1976, 32 years later, I met her again, having kept in touch ever since. My wife and I drove out from Rome in a hired car, first along the autostrada to Frosinone, then via a secondary road to Isola, finally by way of a dusty lane to the village of Carnello, where we enquired after Maria Inglese, as she is still known.
The scene when we found her is difficult to describe. Neighbours and relatives were awaiting our arrival and a feast had been prepared. We spent two unforgettable days in her house, which has been enlarged and equipped with modern conveniences.
The local people are more prosperous than they were in 1944. They have television sets and many commute to Sora each day by car. The furrow over which we jumped is now a concrete canal that can be crossed only by a bridge. Instead of gunfire you hear the sound of traffic and transistors. The children who once furtively brought me food are now middle-aged. But in other ways little has changed. The brown soil and the dry hills, like the people who inhabit them, retain their stubborn and tenacious character.
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Keith Killby to Signora Benassi Magni Laura]
18th January 1997
Signora Benassi Magni Laura,
Siamo lieti che Gianluca Giardina sia riuscito a contattarla a riguardo del Trust.
Noi che eravamo in fuga in Italia saremo per sempre grati perciò che fece la sua famiglia e tanti altri Italiani.
La lettera acclusa fornica maggiori infomazioni a riguardo delle Borse di Studio e speriamo vivamente che un giorno qualeuno della sua famiglia della famiglia della sua sorella a Filettino possa usufruirne come assegnatario.
Contatteremo George Candy and Landale Train per informali che siamo in contatto con voi e che speriamo di vedere qualcuno della famiglia qui a Londra come Borsista.
J. Keith Killby
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[handwritten letter to Keith Killby from R.L.M. Train]
30th December 1996
R.L.M. Train, Natal, South Africa
To, J. K. Killby, Hon Sec.
Dear Keith Killby,
I am very sorry I have been so long in replying to your very interesting letter and also many thanks for the enclosed letters. I asked my friend, George Candy, to write and explain that in old age one still does stupid things – I slipped and broke my hip and had to have a replacement. I am back home now and still on crutches. I hope George has given you more details of our time together. My extended POW time after being recaptured started through a stupid error on my part – we left the badly wounded British paratrooper [Bill Williams] on a path the Germans were using – I then thought I was going back the same way and jumped down onto a terrace on to a German Machine Gun post. George saw what happened and was free 1 week later from the push caused from Cassino in the Battle of Monte Cassino. I was put into a room, my hands and legs were tied with rope. I was in civilian clothes. I was expecting to be shot. In my wallet I had photos of my wife and child and one of the Farm with a photo of 16 Oxen pulling a load of hay. This amused the interrogator and he asked me all sorts of questions about the farm
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and how I got the photos with Stalag 52 stamped on the back. From there I was put into a civilian dungeon for 10 days in isolation. Then they made up their minds and moved me to an American POW Camp (all the lads had been captured at Nettuno, the landing south of Rome. I think I was the only non-American). We marched through Rome and took a long trip up the west coast to Leghorn [Livorno, Italian port city, known traditionally in English as Leghorn] and then to Milan. A lot of chaps didn’t make it. We were then put into cattle trucks – around 50 or so per truck. Arriving at Stalag 52 for the second time, I got given British clothing and the wonderful Red Cross boxes of food, and also received my first word from home for over one year. I don’t think there were many escapes on the trip 60k South of Rome to Milan. I earned a great respect for also hiding two or three lads that were fearful (the SS guards were fanatical). Going through Hungary felt like months and years. I remember going through a small village and a woman with a small baby handed one of the chaps a loaf of bread first in front of me – the guard ridded her of the baby then shot chap that took the loaf. The face of the guard was a nightmare – to try and control oneself was most difficult – the young woman’s face was so blank.
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I wonder if when you got taken to Germany if you probably had the same treatment. From Stalag 52 we were taken to a camp outside Regeusburg. My memories there were the shattering plane raids on the town. Then, for some reason that we never found out, they started marching us east and we ended up in the Black Forest, the Germans yelling and shooting rounds. Suddenly, the guards just vanished. Next day, American troops arrived. I know you have been through this – first, no word can say ones feelings. Within a few days, I was on a plane to France and then to Brighton. For the first week I ended up at my Aunt’s house in Sussex. I had my first bath for three years and a soft bed, as well as a phone call home. Please excuse my long scribble – I have first let you know how I got back. No-one can ever tell you ones feelings, wondering how ones wife and child would react to a father away for four years. I have not mentioned life before being caught. My love and praise for the wonderful Italian families that risked their lives for us – no words can thank them enough. I will be most interested to hear of any contact you have with any of the names from before that I have given you.
With many thanks to you and the Monte San Martino Trust.
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P.S. Most amused by the back page – the old drawing of the famous blunder. Brings back lots of memories.
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1 December 1996
Monte San Martino Trust,
Dear Mr Keith Killby
Thank you very much for your letter of 10 November 1996 to Landale Train (Landale, not Randal) and me, and for telling us about the Trust, its laudable aims and work.
I am writing on Landale’s behalf as well as he is
temporarily incapacitated, being in hospital, having broken his hip. Thank you
also for contacting Mrs Elisa Scala, whose mother, Maria Antonelli, assisted
several POWs ‘on the run’. I enclose a photo-copy of an article that I wrote
for NEON magazine in 1977 about the help that Landale and I received from her.
In answer to your request for our personal histories, Landale and I were both In Tobruk when it surrendered In June 1942. Landale was a sergeant in the 2nd S.A. Division while I was a private in a composite battalion called Beer Group. Our company attempted to escape after the surrender. Some of the trucks got through but the one I was on ran Into a German road block.
We were both in Fara Sabina camp at the time of the armistice in September 1943. It was a fortunate camp, as our guards deserted within a couple of days and the Germans in the area were slow about moving in. As a result, the entire 4000 Inmates escaped into the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately, we were under the impression that the Allies had landed, or were about to land, to the north of us, so the party of which I was a member camped in a vineyard close to Moricone and waited for the Allies to arrive.
A week later, the Germans arrived at Moricone before dawn and recaptured most of the escapees camped on the slopes of the Sabine hills to the east of the village. Being on the other side of Moricone, we heard what was happening and remained in hiding for the next three weeks. We were given food each day by Moricone villagers, as well as civilian clothes.
In November, the Germans staged another search, starting from Montelibretto and five of us were recaptured, including myself, but I was fortunately able to escape from a train on the way to Germany and returned to Moricone. (I have written an account of this episode which I shall send you under separate cover).
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Landale Train, meanwhile, had been living about six miles away, further west. In January 1944, he and I decided to go south and try to get through the front. I enclose a map of our route. (No, I haven’t misspelt Carnello. It is a very small village, 3km south of Sora and 3km to the north-east of Isola di Liri, and is shown only on large-scale maps).
As you will see, we went east Into the Appenines, intending to keep to mule trails leading through remote villages unlikely to contain German garrisons. Having reached Cese, near Avezzano, we planned to continue east towards the Halella Mtns but the winter weather was so severe that we stayed at Cese for 2-3 weeks helped by the Contaldi family.
While we were there, the Anzio landing took place and we decided to make for the bridgehead Instead, travelling along the Val Roveto and over the pass to Fllettino, where we were again brought to a halt by severe snowstorms. We became acquainted with other ex-POWs In the locality, two of whom set off with an Italian guide for La Meta Mountain, having arranged to send back a message in code over the radio If they got through the front. Our Italian friends in Moricone picked up the message about 2 weeks later and that night a plane flew low over the area, responding to our bonfire by switching its wing lights on and off. A parachute of supplies was dropped but we failed to find it. The contents were apparently purloined by local Italians.
Soon after, the Allied command dropped five Italian-Americans whose mission was to supply ex-POWs with maps, compasses and canned food and a route for getting through the front In the Cassino sector. The parachutists occupied a cave several miles away near Trevi and we heard about them only after all their supplies had been handed out. However, the pair of us set off for the front with only a vague Idea of how to get through accompanied by a British soldier called Bill Williams (not Bill Evans, as I Incorrectly said in my last letter). I have been told that all five Americans were captured and executed within a day or two of our departure but I have not been able to confirm this. There is an account of the ‘rastrellamento’ of Filettino by the Germans entitled 44 GIORNI written by Sllverlo Benassi.
We walked south-eastward in hot spring weather into an area where the Inhabitants became less and less friendly the closer we got to the front. Our arrival in the Sora area, our chance encounter with Marla Antonelll and our attempt to get through the front Is recounted In the enclosed article.
During these 9 months ‘on the run’ I had extraordinary good
luck unshared by Landale Train. The first piece of good luck was to be in the
Fara Sabina camp, the next was to find myself on the way to Germany In a cattle
truck in which one fantail-type window had not been wired up (most unusual
negligence of the part of the Germans), the third was to stumble by sheer
chance onto Marla Antonelll’s farm — about the only person In that dangerous locality
who was prepared to assist ex-POWs, the fourth was to be the sole survivor of
our attempt to get through the front. Bill Williams was seriously wounded,
Landale walked Into a German strong point.
I hope this record will be of Interest to you.
Yours most sincerely,
[handwritten text] PTO – P.S. & map
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P.S. I was born in England incidentally. My father was
commander G.C. Candy O.B.E. He emirgrated to South Africa in 1926, when I was
11 years old.
[hand-drawn map of route taken by Candy and Train]
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[handwritten letter to Keith Killby regarding the account of
30th October 1996
Jean Train is an old friend of mine who was staying with me for a week in September. We had not met for around 40 years. I told her about the Monte San Martino Trust and she said a cousin of hers in South Africa had been a POW in Italy and escaped. I gave her the application form for candidates and the other form explaining in English about the Trust and
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also about how to send contribution funds. As a result, Jean has first sent me the two enclosed letters – an extract from the cousin of hers and a letter, and the complete letter of his friend George Candy.
I will endeavour to contact in Italy the Contaldi and Pastanelli families. The only address – with Maria Antonelli being dead – is for her daughter in the U.K., should you wish to contact her.
N.B. The cousin of Ms Train: Jean rewrote his letter as his writing is so bad – this should account for the mistakes – she could hardly understand his wording herself.
I’ve just returned from a 7-day visit to La Terra Santa.
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[letter from Keith Killby to Randal Train and George Candy]
10th November 1996
Dear Randal Train and George Candy,
Via Audrey Capes in Rome, whose brother was also a POW ‘on the run’ in Italy and Mrs Lumsden, whom I think I may have met in Crail in Scotland some 60 years ago, I have received copies of your very interesting letters concerning your period ‘on the run’ in Italy.
First, this Trust – the enclosed explains its aims and some of its work. Though only founded 6 years ago, it has granted over 60 Bursaries to students coining from the Veneto down to the Abruzzi and Molise. That was due to the generous and enthusiastic support immediately given to it by all former POWS who heard of the Trust.
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I have attempted to trace your route. As you can see, I have
in some cases slightly changed a name e.g. could not find Carnello. Would
appreciate knowing whether the below seems correct.
I am sending a copy of this letter to Mrs Jean Lumsden and Miss Audrey Capes.
Hope I may hear more details from you both,
J. Keith Killby
[rough hand-drawn map of route taken by George Candy and Landale Train]
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Extract from my cousin, Landale Train’s letter 9th October 1996 (Jean nee Train)
I got to know the Italians and to love them. They were very short of food but managed to find something for us. They were very brave and it was at great risk that they looked after us. The Fascists were continually giving away families that were helping POWs. It meant the whole family would be wiped out. I will start with the Benassi family – they lived in a small village in Filettino in the mountains. Both were wonderful people. The daughter, Paola, still lives there. The other sister, Laura, lives in Rome. We stayed with them in 1986 – her husband is Geovonna Lan Ricardo. They were very kind to us and took us to the village and Cassino (where I first was caught). There is also another son who also lives in Rome – he used to bring our food up to us in our hide out place. He was wonderful.
My name to the Italians was Roberto. The older generation have all died out. Mary and Giovanni Antonelli lived at Carnello, her daughter, Mrs E. Scala, lives in England. The mother was a wonderfully brave person and she hid us in an upstairs room when the Germans arrived to look for us. I still write to her.
Antovanni and Maria Contaldi lived at a small village ‘Cese’ di Auezzano, this is where we got snowed up. They hid us in the old cow shed in bales of straw. Sybil and I went back and visited them, Antovanni was in the cattle trough and he rushed up to me and hugged and kissed me, shouting ‘Roberto!’ The chap I was with was a school teacher and he taught the two boys to read and write.
The last family we were with was at a small village, Moroconi [Mercone], North of Rome. Alfredo Pastanelli, I cannot remember her name. The children were all small. We lived in sort of cave we dug in a bank. The fruit was ripe, so our food was fruit and olives. My memories of that stay were of the most wonderful kindness. I developed a very abyss in my tooth and my jaw was very swollen, so they made me drink
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a lot of wine. The one chap held my head and the tooth was pulled out. I was kept in a fowl house and covered with straw. When the jaw swelling went down, I went back to our hide out.
The chap I was with, his name is George Candy, was most interested to hear about the Monte San Martino Trust. I wished I could help them as they were so wonderful to us.
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[Letter from George Candy in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
to Jean Candy of East Sussex]
10th October 1996
Ms Jean Lumsden,
Dear Ms Lumsden,
I have been informed by Mr R.L.[Landale] M. Train of South Africa that one of the aims of the Monte San Martino Trust is to reward the descendants of Italians who assisted escaped prisoners-of-war during World War 2.
Mr Train has sent you the names of some Italians who fall into this category and I should like to confirm that Mr Train and I received invaluable help in early 1944, when we were attempting to reach the front, from the following:
The Contaldi family, who were living at the village of Cese near Avezzano, where our journey to the front was interrupted by bad weather. The Contaldi family not only allowed us to take refuge in their stable on the outskirts of the village for about three weeks, but also gave us a meal every evening in their house, although the village had a German garrison. It is unlikely that the parents of the family are still alive, so I shall give the names of the children in order of seniority: Maria, Giuseppi, Gloanina, Laura, Dina, Nello. The eldest, Maria, will now be about 72 years of age.
Soon after, we were snowbound at the village of Filettino, north-east of Trevi, where we assisted for several weeks by the Benassi family. Without their help, we could not have survived. They gave us bedding, other equipments and occasional food, despite their extreme poverty. Both parents are now dead but one daughter, Paula, lives in Filettino still, and another, Laura, Rome.
We encountered the most heroic of all these brave and charitable people at the village of Carnello, in the Liri valley, immediately behind the Cassino sector of the front. There were numerous German troops and supply dumps in the area and hundreds of civilian refugees. Train and I had been joined by a British soldier, Bill Evans [Williams], and the three of us were being chased by a German who thought we looked suspicious when we arrived at the small farm of Maria Antonelli. She immediately hid us in her house. When the German arrived to search the house, she managed to convince him that we had left the vicinity. She gave us food and shelter until early the following morning when her husband led us by a roundabout route past the sentry posts (as there was a curfew) and put us on the road to
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the front. She did this despite the fact that she had relatives in England was known in the village as Maria Inglese. Our attempt to get through the front was disastrous. Train was recaptured and Evans [Williams] was seriously wounded. He had to surrender to a German supply unit in order to get first aid. As the only survivor, I returned to the Antonelli farm, where Maria gave me shelter in an outlying field. I stayed for about a fortnight, receiving food every day until the Allies began to advance. I then returned to the front and had little difficulty in contacting a New Zealand patrol at the village of Terelle.
Maria and her husband died some years ago, but her daughter, Elisa Scala, resides in West Yorkshire. Elisa had two daughters of school-leaving age, Katie and Debora. Scholarships or any form of assistance would be most welcome I imagine as Elisa was recently widowed.
Maria, in my opinion, deserved a George medal, but although I gave a full report of what she did to the British and South African authorities at the end of the war and wrote an article about her for the magazine, Neon, in 1977, her heroism has never been officially recognised. Her full name was Maria Assunta di Stefano in Antonelli, born 3rd April 1911, died 11th March 1991.
I apologise for giving you so much to read, but I hope that it will be of some use. Any material assistance given to the descendants of these wonderful Italians would be money well spent.
(P.S. I began the war as private in the 1st Battalion Transvaal Scottish and finished the war as a staff-sergeant in the South African Army Education Section).