At left, Carl with twins Ron and Don, the last-born of his and his wife Nadine’s six children; right, Carl at home on the family farm
I first heard from Crystal Aceves in February 2010, when she wrote, “My grandfather was part of Operation Torch, subtask operation Brushwood. He made it through the amphibious landing and went on to Sicily, where he captured on July 17, 1943.”
Carl was transferred through several camps, the last of which was P.G. 59 in Servigliano.
He kept an account of his war experiences, in which he described the Camp 59 breakout:
“It was on the 8th of September we heard the allies were in Italy and Italy had packed in. What a day! We were free! That’s what we thought. We were held for six more days. We grew very impatient and started to smell a mouse, were they going to turn us loose, today, tomorrow, so we made plans of our own. We’d go on our own. Soon the Germans would come in and take us on to Germany. On the night of the 14th of September we went out under fire through a hole in the wall that had been chiseled by some of the prisoners.”
Crystal went on to explain, “Outside the camp, the men divided in smaller groups and traveled all night to the foot of Monte San Martino.
“The names of the six escapees in his group that night were Carl Good (my granddad), Sgt. George Tucker, Sgt. Jim Kingsland, Joseph Altomari, Jim Snodgrass, and Jim Martelli. After a couple days, they split up so it was safer.
“My granddad stayed with Jim Martelli.
“He was one of the lucky ones,” Crystal said. “He survived in the San Martino mountains for over nine months.
“My granddad and Jim stayed hidden outside of Monte San Martino in the countryside. At the beginning there were three families that were helping them out. As things got harder, two of the families dropped out. The main farmer and his family took them on themselves. His name was Giovanni Straffi. He had two sons fighting and both were captured—one sent to Germany and one sent to the U.S. His son’s names were Carlo and Edward (as it would be in English). The Straffi family joked that they had traded a Carlo for a Carl.
“They really took care of my granddad and Jim and made sure they survived the winter. Some winter nights, they let them spend the night under the house with the ox so they could keep warm. On one very cold, snowy winter night, they even let them spend the night inside the house and gave them a bed to sleep in for a few days.
“For the most part my granddad and Jim lived in a hidden shelter. He told me one of the Italian boys went with them near the beginning and helped make them a shelter out of wicker plants that was hidden in a small ditch in the timber and away from the main road. They had a perfect view of the families and the country around them, but they were protected. It could only be accessed by walking. The main road ran below them and there was a rural road up near level of them. This was their main hideout throughout the nine months they stayed in the mountains.
As the Allies got closer, in June 1944, they decided to leave and try to make it to Termoli. Giovanni Straffi and his wife cried because they felt like sons to them. He said he did get a letter from them after he got home, but we could never find what happened to it.
“Jim and my granddad made it to Ascoli and were met by a British company. He made in back to the U.S. on August 2, 1944.
“When my dad was little, the war was never mentioned,” Crystal wrote. “My granddad wanted to start talking about it in his 70s.”
At the time she first wrote to me, Crystal said of her granddad, “He is still alive and well and in July he will be 91. His memory is still amazing and I sit down with him often to record more stories that didn’t get written. He won’t share the worst ones, but he shares many others.”
Carl passed away the following year, on Christmas Eve, 2011.
Crystal continued to research Carl’s story—as well as other men’s escape stores, in order to better understand, by extension, her grandfather’s combat, prisoner-of-war, and escape experiences. She expanded the story to include Carl’s youth, induction into the service, and his return home after repatriation.
This year her years of work reached fruition as she at last saw the publication of her book.
Carl Good would have been pleased to see the dedicated research and sensitivity his granddaughter put into this book. The volume ensures the story of his remarkable experience will live on. It also serves as a tribute to the comrades who shared his experience and the kind Italians who offered him protection.
The author with her granddad, February 2011
Carl Leroy Good during the war
Family life—Carl and his wife Nadine with their children. In all, the couple had one daughter and five sons.
Author Crystal Aceves with her family