Author Archives: Dennis Hill

U.S. National Archives—Italian POW Records

Access to identity cards of American POWs of the Italian Army is now available on the website of the U.S. National Archives. Shown here is the front and back of the card for Delvaughn Elliot.

Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives at College Park (Maryland) has recently prepared a 76-page Draft Inventory of the Records of the Allied Screening Commission, Allied Screening Commission (Italy), and the Prisoner of War Claims Screening Commission.

Here is a PDF of the document:

RG 331 ASC series external

This inventory is meant to serve as a finding aid for researchers accessing National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) holdings of the Allied screening commissions as they relate to POWs, escapers and evaders, and their helpers in Italy.

Readers wishing to follow up with a reference request pertaining to these holdings can email it to archives2reference@nara.gov. Requesters should provide their full contact information with the inquiry.

In time, NARA may devote a web page to these records, as they have for other subjects and records, and over time more documents described in the inventory will be available online. In June, among the first of the records to become available online were the Identity Cards for American Prisoners of the Italian Army.

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Remembering Keith Killby


Keith (on left) with his father; Keith in his Special Air Service uniform


Keith with Letitia Blake

J. Keith Killby
June 15, 1916–September 7, 2018

Keith Killby, a former prisoner of war and founder of Monte San Martino Trust, died yesterday at his home in London.

About 10 years ago, I first learned of the Trust.

At the same time, I discovered Keith Killby had been interned at P.G. 59 and escaped though the same hole battered through the camp wall that my father passed through on the night of September 14, 1943.

In planning a trip to the UK in 2012, I reached out to Trust secretary and trustee Letitia Blake. Might she arrange for me to meet Keith?

A few weeks later, on our first day in London, Letitia met my partner Mark and me at the Swiss Cottage tube station and together we walked several blocks to the quiet street where Keith lived.

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Memories of Manuel Serrano

Manuel Serrano in an undated photo. Courtesy of Marie Galarza-Ruiz.

Manuel and friends. Courtesy of Marie Galarza-Ruiz.

One of the most interesting Camp 59 POWs by far is Manuel Serrano—a young paratrooper of Puerto Rican descent from New York City’s Brooklyn borough.

Even during the war, Manuel gained recognition as a tough, colorful character when his exploits behind enemy lines in Italy were profiled in Yank magazine. See “The Partisan from Brooklyn.”

I was so pleased to hear recently from Marie Galarza-Ruiz, who shed further light on, and a glimpse into a tender side of, this enigmatic character.

Marie wrote, “Manuel Serrano was a very close friend of my parents, Ignacio and Maria Galarza, and our family.

“I can’t tell you how surprised I was to find the clipping of him on your site. I have the same clipping in a scrapbook I keep of him to this day. He was such a special man and I absolutely adored him. His military service record is incredible and a testament to his strength and courage.

“He also led a very interesting life after leaving the military. He had small parts in a few Hollywood movies and lived most of his life in Europe, where he married his wife Adrienne in France.”

“He had a small part in the Valachi Papers and a larger role in Land of the Pharaohs, starring Joan Collins. He played her personal guard. He looked terrific in an Egyptian costume.

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Manuel Serrano—The Partisan from Brooklyn

In 1999–2001, Italian historian Filippo Ieranò conducted a number of interviews with Italians of the Marche.

The collection was published as Antigone nella Valle del Tenna, or “Antigone in the Tenna Valley” in 2002 by Consiglio Regionale delle Marche. The stories highlight the reception of fleeing Allied POWs and Jews after 8th September 1943 in the Tenna Valley—examples of nonviolent resistance against Nazi-Fascists.”

Filippo included a memoir by Manuel Serrano in this volume:

Il partigiano di Brooklin
The Partisan from Brooklyn

[…] Erano passati due mesi dalla tragedia di Pearl Harbor, quando mi arruolai volontario nel corpo dei paracadutisti e fui mandato al corso di addestramento di Fort Benning, nello Stato della Giorgia. Dopo qualche mese fummo inviati in Inghilterra per un po’ di tempo e poi partecipammo all’invasione del Nord Africa.

[…] Two months had passed since the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, when I volunteered for the paratroopers and was sent to the training course at Fort Benning, Georgia. After a few months, we were sent to England for a while and then we participated in the invasion of North Africa.

La nostra prima missione era di far saltare un ponte, ma il 27 dicembre 1942 fummo catturati e condotti a Tunisi, dove ci caricarono su una nave italiana di nome ‘Zeno,’ destinazione Palermo.

Our first mission was to blow up a bridge, but on December 27, 1942, we were captured and taken to Tunis, where they took us on an Italian ship called the Zeno, destined for Palermo.

[…] Dopo due ore, arrivammo col treno a Servigliano provenienti da Porto S. Giorgio. La gente sembrava più cordiale, ci offriva anche del pane, nonostante la contrarietà dei carabinieri presenti.

[…] After two hours, we arrived by train in Servigliano. Coming from Porto S. Giorgio, people seemed more cordial there—they even offered us bread, despite the opposition of the carabinieri present.

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Ron Streatfield—“Granddad”

This week, Tracy Streatfield sent me additional photos of her grandfather, Ron Streatfield. The photo above, she explains, “is likely to have been taken not long before his passing—in either 1985 or 1986, as my sister Heather (left) only looks 2–3 years of age and she was born in 1983.” Tracy is on the right.

Ron died in December 1986.

Above—Ron with his Royal Signals training squad. Printed on the photo is “71 SQUAD NO 2 COY 1st O.T.B. R. SIGNALS 1945 INST L/CL ADAMS.” Ron is seated fourth from the left—see an enlarged detail of Ron below.

This is one of several group photos Tracy sent me.

Read also “Ronald Streatfield in Switzerland.”

Sergeant Allan Lee Downed in Greece

Bristol Type 142m Blenheim I aircraft of the Royal Air Forces in flight. Image from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.

I heard this week from Thanos Antonelos, who lives in Athens, Greece.

Thanos researches WW2 aircrews whose aircrafts crashed in Greece.

“On 13 December 1941,” he wrote, “Blenheim Z7800 (Squadron 107, Royal Air Force), was downed at Kefalonia Island, west of Greece. Most of the crew were killed. Three survived, were captured, and ended up in POW camps:

Sergeant Allan John LEE, RAFVR (Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve), 925684 (Pilot), ended up in Italy, at P.G. 59

Sergeant Richard HAGGETT, RAFVR, 925435 (Navigator), was transferred to Stalag VII-A Moosburg (POW number 132004)

Sergeant Ambrose John COMEAU, RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force), R65203 (wireless/air gunner), was transferred to Stalag VIII-B/344 Lamsdorf (POW number 31613)

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Ronald Streatfield in Switzerland

Ronald Arthur Streatfield

The photos in this post were sent to me by Tracy Jayne Streatfield, whose grandfather, Ronald Arthur Streatfield, was a prisoner in Camp 59.

“Ron married Sylvia Shrubb and they had two children—Nigel and Jane,” she wrote. “I am Nigel’s eldest daughter.

“My granddad was in the Queen’s Royal West Surrey Regiment. He was born 30th December 1919, and died 4th December 1986.

“Along with some fellow prisoners of war, he ended up in Switzerland before returning home.

“Most of the pictures are from Switzerland, as you will see.”

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