Escaped Prisoners and Airman at Fontanaluccia

A page from the register of the Partisan Hospital of Santa Lucia

I received valuable information from Italian researcher Michele Becchi several days ago.

He wrote, “I’m sending to you a page from the register of the Partisan Hospital of Santa Lucia, in the village of Fontanaluccia, not far from Montefiorino (the partisan republic).

“There are names of British ex-POWs that may be interest you.

“In the register are also some names of Allied pilots, Russians, and Germans.”

“The word ‘ospizio’ means hospital but also nursing home. Don Mario Prandi, the parish priest of Fontanaluccia, opened it in the ’30s and during the war, with the help of some antifascist doctors, it became one of the four or five partisan health centers of the mountains open to partisans, prisoners, civilians, and anyone needing help. The acronym ‘S. Lucia V.M.’ is a religious abbreviation for ‘Santa Lucia, Virgin and Martyr.’”

Michele kindly offered me a complete translation of the page:

HOSPICE OF S. LUCIA V.M.
Fontanaluccia
List of the inmates and assisted belonging to the belligerent armed forces: from October 1943

October 10, 1943 – R. D. Smith – Castle House [an east London district] London C.4 – England
Prisoner escaped from the POW camp of Fontanellato. Patient because suffering from osteoarthritis in the tibio-tarsus articulation of the left leg. Treated by Dr. Pisani and Professor Marconi. Discharged/healed on December 21, 1943.

October 10, 1943 – W. J. Bishop – Durcot [Durcott Lane] Camerton – Bath, Somerset, England. Prisoner as above suffering from general exhaustion and organic emaciation. Dr. Marconi and Dr. Pisani. Discharged/healed on December 2, 1943.

“I don’t know if both of these British came from Fontanellato,” Michele wrote. “Only for R. D. Smith is the POW camp mentioned.”

“I have also some other names,” he added, “taken from notes belonging to Don Vasco Casotti, the priest of Febbio, a village few miles west of Fontanaluccia. Don Vasco was a strong antifascist. He hosted many Allied airmen, escapers and partisans.

“I don’t know if these British and Commonweath soldiers escaped from Fontanellato.”

Their names are:

Sidney Petrie
Diamond Square
Hexham, Northumberland, England

Hugh Douglas
c/o Surveyor General, Pretoria, South Africa

Mr. Clifford Ingleson Jwr.
21, Miles Hill View, Leeds 7, Yorkshire, England

Denis N. Oakley,
Royder, 109039, Wetton Road, Wynberg, Cape Town, South Africa

I inquired about the airmen Michele had mentioned in his first email.

He answered, “I had omitted airmen’s names from the register and Don Vasco’s list because your blog is focused mainly about ex-pows, but here they are.”

Airmen from the hospital register:

“5 August 1944 – Aviation Lieutenant Douglas (American), suffering from a large hematoma of the right leg and scrotal-perineum area, due to crushing caused by chute harness while falling from a burning plane in Frassinoro area. Treated by Dr. Andreoli – Dr. De Toffoli, released/healed on August 28, 1944.”

and

“Lieutenant D. G. Boast, nr. 542757V. Fallen with his plane in Magliatica. Transferred to the Allied Military Hospital of Modena on April 27, 1945″

“Douglas was Lt. Douglas V. Neale, who belonged to the 86th Fighter Bomber Group,” Michele wrote, “With some friends, this summer we found the remains of his Republic P-47 fighter. Douglas died in the ’80s. We are in touch with his relatives from Burbank, California.

“The other pilot was a South African. He crash-landed with his P-40 fighter near Magliatica, and was rescued by a partisan patrol, and carried first to a safe area, and then to the hospital.”

Here are three Americans from the Don Vasco List:

Sgt. Leo J. Martin
37 Melrose Street, Lawrence, Massachusetts

William Wiley
1315 Hagood Avenue, Columbia, South Carolina
or 307 Winding Way, Merion Station, Pennsylvania

George D. Merrill
204 Jackson Avenue, Highland Park, New Jersey

Of the three, Michele explains, “These men are part of the crew of a B-25 belonging to the 57th Bomb Group. Also, Wiley was the only survivor of a German attack against the partisan unit he belonged to. He gave his statement to the British War Criminal Branch after the war.

Here are other English and Scottish names from Don Vasco’s list (note serviceman Smith’s name appears here also, but with a different middle initial and with a variation of his address):

R. W. Smith, Castle House, London E.C.Q. [England]

C. Barrat, 41 Dunkeld Road, Ilford, Essex, England (first name Charlie, he was a S.O.E. Radio Operator, belonging to a British Mission in the area)

Edward Everitt, 13 Redcar Rd. (W.), South Bank, Middlesborough, Yorks, England

G. M. Corry, 97 Costons Lane, Greenford, Middlesex Gerald [England]

R. Weir, 11 Coltness Av[enue], Shotts, Lanarkshire (Bonnie) Scotland

Parachutist F. Mulvey (Paddy), 5892465, 2nd SAS, Ward /, 104 B. G. Hospital, Central Med. [Mediterranean] Forces

Michele wrote, “This last man, a member of the 2nd Squadron of the British Special Air Service, was wounded in a knee during the “Operation Tombola”, the attack against the German LI Corps headquarters in Albinea, near Reggio, Italy. I’m in touch with his relatives in England.”

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