Algiers, late 1942. Don Robinson is on the far right.
Sergeant Donald George Robinson, Royal Artillery, was captured on January 21, 1943 during a night skirmish with Rommel’s Afrika Korp at Bou Arada in Tunisia. From North Africa, he was transferred to P.G. 59 in Servigliano.
In September 1943, Don escaped with the other prisoners during the general breakout from camp that followed the signing of the armistice.
For several months, he was protected by the Luciani and Dezi families who lived in the countryside near the camp.
Through the help of local partisans, Don returned to Allied control in May 1944.
Don and his wife Monica returned to Italy in the 1960s. They stayed with the Dezi family and visited with members of the Luciani family as well.
Don died in 1992, at the age of 76.
Twenty-two years later, Don’s daughter, Georgina Stewart, traveled to the Marche with her husband John. Aided by Ian McCarthy and his wife Gabriella, they succeeded in finding members of both the Luciani and Dezi families.
Georgina recounted this adventure in a story she wrote for the Monte San Martino Trust website. See “Where Donald Robinson Hid.”
Nino Dezi with his wife Josephine. Georgina writes, “As as eight-year-old, Nino used to take food down the hill to my father, who was staying with the Luciani family. When my father and mother visited in the sixties, they stayed with the Dezi family.”
Nino Dezi with his wife Josephine with their family. Georgina and John Stewart are in the back row.
Georgina with Giovanni Luciani and his wife Rita, outside the house in the village where the couple lives today
In the two photos above, Giovanni Luciani and Georgina explore the house where Don was sheltered. Although he was seven years old when Don stayed with his family, Giovanni has memories of him.
This photo, Georgina writes, shows “the entrance to the cattle byre in the house where my father was hidden.”
Don Robinson received this letter from Mariano Luciani in 1960.
Georgina wrote to me, “My Father was always known as Don, rather than Donald. It reminds me of my Father saying that when he visited the families in the sixties, they were working in the fields and on seeing him, they excitedly called out, “Donaldo, Donaldo”—as they rushed to greet him.”
Penna S. Giovanni
( Macerata )
March, 19th 1960
Dear Mr. Robinson:-
Received your letter and to hear that all of your family is well and thank God we too are in good health. Attilio Dezi gave us your pictures, and all of us were very glad of them.
Regarding yours staying with us sixteen years ago, we assure you that, humanly speaking, we did our duty and we are quite sure that you would have done the same thing.
Over here we are doing nicely and thank God we are doing nicely and have plenty of everything. The family below us send you their regards, Attilio Dezi gave us your package and it was opened. Many thanks for it.
Not having anything else to say, we all send you our very best regards
[signed] Mariano Luciani
Penna S. Giovanni
( Macerata )
This letter from the War Office was the official notification of Don Robinson’s status as missing-in-action. The letter was sent to Don’s wife.
Georgina writes, “He married my Mother, Monica [Milborough], during the war—on the 18th April, 1942—and they went on honeymoon to Stratford-on-Avon for a weekend.”
R. A. RECORD & PAY OFFICE
4 – FEB 1943
FOOTS CRAY, SIDCUP, KENT.
I regret to have to inform you that a report has been received from the War Office to the effect that (No.) 318797 (Rank) W/Sgt (Name) ROBINSON Donald George (Regiment) Royal Artillery was posted as missing on the 23d January 1943 In North Africa.
The report that he is missing does not necessarily mean he has been killed, as he may be a prisoner of war or temporarily separated from his regiment.
Official reports that men are prisoners of war take some time to reach this country, and if he has been captured by the enemy it is probable that unofficial news will reach you first. In that case I am to ask you to forward any postcard or letter received at once to this Office and it will be returned to you as soon as possible.
Should any further official information be received it will be at once communicated to you.
I am, MADAM,
Your obedient Servant,
for Officere in charge of Records.
IMPORTANT. Any change of your address should me immediately notified to this Office.