Portrait of Andrea Scattini by Federico Spoltore, Lanciano, February 14, 1944
As a young man and a medical student, Andrea Scattini was enrolled in the Medical Corps of the Italian Army and assigned to the Celio Military Hospital, Rome, according to his nephew Luigi Donfrancesco.
In September 1943, after Italy signed the Armistice, Andrea was captured by Germans outside the hospital. He and several other young men were slated for transport to Germany when Andrea escaped.
He returned to his home in San Vito Chietino Marina, on the Adriatic coast.
In October 1943, in Termoli, Andrea offered his services to the Allies and was enrolled as an agent under Captain Andrew Robb, No. 5 Field Section, “A” Force (I.S.9). He was among the first small group of six Italians to be employed in that capacity (the others being Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello, Don Domenico Orlandini, Ermanno Finocchi, Fausto Simonetti, and “Guido”—full name unknown).
Andrea’s mission was to organize escape “Rat-lines” and to guide former POWs to safety over land and along the Adriatic coastline.
This was named Plan RATBERRY Section “A”, No. 5 Field Section, and Andrea and the other agents of his group were often referred to as “the Ratberry boys.”
Luigi is trying to acquire documents with details of Andrea’s missions and activities as an “A” Force/I.S.9 agent in the Marche and Abruzzo regions.
In a No. 5 Field Section progress report from Lanciano, Captain Robb states that on December 21, 1943, Andrea arrived at the Allied lines of the New Zealand Division, taking with him ex-POW Lance Corporal “Spiro.”
In the same report, Captain Robb states Andrea is “one of the original planners of MILKY WAY.”
“MILKY WAY” was a plan to extend RATBERRY in other directions, north and possibly east, to take prisoners to Switzerland and/or Yugoslavia.
On March 8, 1944, at age 26, Andrea was killed in the village of Force—the victim of an apparent ambush.
Luigi Donfrancesco was a baby at the time of Andrea’s death. In time, Andrea’s mother—who was Luigi’s grandmother—gave his medical textbooks to Luigi. Luigi adopted what would have been his uncle’s calling, and he went on to become a doctor.
Luigi’s son, named Andrea in honor of his great uncle, also entered the medical profession.
Andrea Scattini, Porto S. Giorgio, September 1943
Luigi said, “His photo with short pants and a serious expression on his face was taken in Porto San Giorgio, Marche (his wife’s home town) in late September 1943, soon after he was captured in Rome by the Germans and was able to escape.”
“I am the child Andrea is holding in this photo, taken in Rome in 1942, when I was about one year old,” Luigi wrote. “His only child, Ettore Scattini, was born later in Force, in November 1943.”
Villino Verrucci, Force, Ascoli Piceno, in front of which Andrea Scattini was killed. Photo: Dr. Luigino Nespeca
“Force, then covered by snow, is where my uncle lost his life in the evening of March 8, 1944, just in front of beautiful ‘Villino Verrucci’. The circumstances of his death are not yet fully clarified. It seems he may have been killed by a fascist, alleged partisan, infiltrated inside the ‘Paolini’ partisan group.”
U.S. Army Air Force Captain R. W. B. Lewis, No. 5 Field Section of “A” Force, sent this letter or condolence to the widow of Andrea Scattini following his death:
No 5 “A” Force Fd. Sec.,
c/o C.A.O., A.M.G.
20 July 44.
To: La Signora Scattini
From: Commanding Officer,
No 5 “A” FORCE FIELD SEC.
I wish to extend to you, on behalf of the ALLIED ARMIES IN ITALY, our most profound gratitude for the service your husband, ANDREA SCATTINI, rendered the armed forces of GREAT BRITAIN and AMERICA.
ANDREA served with distinction from October 1943 until March 1944. He carried out duties of the most important and difficult kind, and in the performance of these duties he displayed unusual courage and gallantry. He was held in the greatest esteem by all who worked with him; no few of whom owe their lives to his efforts. He died while on duty in enemy territory, and his name is enrolled among those of all nations who perished in action against the common foe.
Please accept, Signora, our deepest sympathy for the loss of your husband, and this expression of our gratitude for his great sacrifice.
[signed] R. W. B. Lewis
for Wing Commander G. 1
Advanced headquarters of “A” FORCE.
Allied Armies in Italy.
Here is Captain Lewis’ letter translated into Italian, courtesy of Luigi Donfrancesco:
“A” FORCE SEZIONE TERRITORIALE N. 5, presso C.A.O., A.M.G, AREZZO.
20 Luglio 1944.
Alla Signora Scattini
Da: Ufficiale Comandante, “A” FORCE SEZIONE TERRITORIALE N. 5
Desidero parteciparle, per conto delle FORZE ALLEATE IN ITALIA, la nostra più profonda gratitudine per i servizi che suo marito, ANDREA SCATTINI, ha reso alle forze armate della GRAN BRETAGNA e AMERICA.
ANDREA ha servito con distinzione da Ottobre 1943 fino a Marzo 1944. Ha espletato compiti del massimo grado di importanza e difficoltà, e nell’espletamento di questi compiti ha dimostrato non comune coraggio e ardimento. Egli era tenuto nella più alta considerazione da tutti quelli che hanno lavorato con lui; non pochi dei quali devono la vita ai suoi sforzi. Egli è morto mentre era in servizio in territorio nemico, e il suo nome è annoverato fra quelli di tutte le nazioni che sono morti in azione contro il comune nemico.
La prego di accettare, Signora, le nostre più profonde condoglianze per la perdita di suo marito, e questa espressione della nostra gratitudine per il suo grande sacrificio.
Firmato: R. W. B. LEWIS
Capitano dell’Aviazione USA
Per il Comandante di Stormo G. 1.
Quartiere Generale Avanzato dell’ “A” FORCE,
Armate Alleate in Italia.
Dopo la guerra Lewis diviene Professore di Letteratura Inglese e Americana all’Università di Yale e con le sue pubblicazioni vince il premio Pulitzer. Appassionato di Firenze e di Dante, viene spesso in Italia e scrive un libro su Dante. Muore nel 2002 all’età di 84 anni.