Celebrating Family Ties

A Dickinson family outing to the beach. At front are Robert, youngest brother Len on the lap of his mother, and his father. In back are brothers James and William.

On this occasion—the Thanksgiving weekend, when American families gather to feast, remember the past, and meditate on their blessings—I’ll pause for a moment to reflect on the universality of family ties.

Here are three families—British, American, and Italian—who have connections to prisoners from Camp 59. The stories of Robert Dickinson, Marino Palmoni, and Armie Hill are well-covered in a number of posts on this site.

In celebration of this holiday, here is an international family album.

Robert Dickinson’s Family

Robert on his Panther motocycle. His young brother Len is scarcely visible behind him.

Steve Dickinson in the Marche, Italy, September 2010.

Robert was interned in several camps—including Camp 59—during the war. After the Italian Armistice he fought beside Italian partisans at Gassino, where he was killed in a gunfight.

Robert dearly loved his kid brother Len, and now Len’s son Steve has taken a keen interest in his uncle Robert. Steve has tracked Robert’s footsteps in Gassino, visited Robert’s grave at Milan War Cemetery, and toured Camp 59 in Servigliano.

Marino Palmoni’s Family

Marino and Antonello Palmoni are interviewed about the Palmoni family rescue of prisoners by Casa della Memoria president Filippo Ieranò, September 2010.

When he was nine years old, Marino discovered escaped POWs hiding in bushes near his home in Montefalcone.

Marino’s family accepted the prisoners—including Americans Luther Shields and Louis VanSlooten—into their home, where the young men were protected as lovingly as if they were long-lost sons.

Marino is healthy and active today and lives with his son Antonello in Montefalcone.

Armie Hill’s Family

Armie and Eini Hill at their home in Phelps, Wisconsin, July 1962.

The Hill children (left to right) Bruce, Ruth, Dennis, and Tom. Christmas 1961.

Armie—my father—was unmarried when he shipped off to war overseas. Not long after his return to the States he met and proposed to Eini Seppa.

The couple married at an army base chapel in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and they lived in New York City for the duration of the war, where Armie served at the Port of Embarkation. My sister Ruth was born in New York, while the war still raged.

Armie and Eini had three more children after the war. My dad passed away in 2000 at the age of 82. My mom passed away last year.