Former Camp 59 internee Don Robinson’s daughter, Georgina Stewart, sent me the heartwarming news story featured in this post, which appeared in the Hereford Time (Herefordshire, England) in 1984.
See also “Sergeant Don Robinson—Captive and Escapee.”
PoW has been 40 years on the farm
May 11, 1984
Caption: Hop grower Don Robinson (right) and George Iannotto at Munsley Court, near Ledbury. During the war Don was a prisoner in Italy and George a prisoner in England.
HOP growers Don Robinson, and his general farm hand “George” Iannotto, never knew each other during the Second World War.
That’s not surprising considering Don, of Munsley Court, near Ledbury, ended up a Prisoner-of-War in Italy and Italian George suffered a similar fate in England.
George, real name Michele Iannotto, who has worked at Munsley Court for the past 40 years, will be one of the stars of next month’s Three Counties Show at Malvern when he will receive a special bronze medal in recognition of his long and loyal land service.
After being taken prisoner along with countless thousands of other Italian conscript soldiers at Tobruk in North Africa, George first of all spent four years as a PoW in India. Afterwards, he came to England and Ledbury after short spells in Blackpool and Birmingham.
“As a prisoner-of-war I was sent out to work on local farms,” George said this week. “I came to Munsley Court and remained after my internment ended.
“I have enjoyed working here,” he added.
Now a widower, George still “goes home” as often as he can to see his three surviving sisters and their families at their homes near Naples.
“I went last year and I [am] hoping to go again next year.” He said.
Now just a year away from his retirement George Iannotto is a real all-rounder at Munsley Court and can turn his hand to stock, hops and tractor duties, as well as general farm work.
His boss, Don Robinson, a signaler in the 6th Armoured Division was taken prisoner in North Africa as well and was held prisoner in central Italy.
“After the Italians ended their conflict we were befriended by many Italians,” he said.
“If the Germans had found out about this, those families would almost certainly have been executed.”
But after the war all thoughts of conflict were forgotten as Don Robinson, George and a former German PoW all worked at Munsley Court together.
“We left our weapons behind when the war ended,” added Don Robinson. “We got on quite well really.”