Category Archives: Awards and Recognition

Glauco Cesaretti—Recognized for Heroic Action

From a contact in Rimini, Italy, I’ve received word that a framed Alexander Certificate awarded to Glauco Cesaretti has come to light. 

In an attempt to learn who Glauco Cesaretti was and why he was recognized by Field-Marshal Alexander, the person who discovered the certificate found a reference to him in a book, Faetano 1944 Victoria Cross (2008, Giunta di Castello di Faetano, publisher). 

In fact, the Alexander Certificate itself appears in the book, where Glauco Cesaretti is credited with hiding two Scotsmen from the Germans. 

Contributor Daniele Cesaretti, in a chapter entitled “Other Battles in San Marino,” describes the September 1944 battle where Glauco Cesaretti fought:

“At noon the forward Cameron troops enter Borgo and house-to-house fighting develops. In the confused fight two Scotsmen are cornered in a house in which Marino Militiaman Glauco Cesaretti is present and who swiftly hides them in the basement, fooling the Germans. Later Pte Cesaretti will be awarded by Allied Officers a certificate signed by General Alexander.” (Cameron Highlanders were among the units fighting that day.)

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Antonio Zagnoli, The Airmen’s Guide

“This photo was taken at Poggio di Casola on September 26, 1941. From left, standing, are Ireneo (brother of my grandpa), my grandma Felicita, and my grandpa Sante; from left, sitting, are cousin Vittorio, my aunt Ada, my uncle Umberto, and my father Antonio” —Marco Zagnoli

Marco Zagnoli recently wrote to me from Italy about his family’s support for Allied airmen in 1943–44. 

“My father told me that he—at the age of sixteen—helped British airmen who were evaders or escaped from prison camps to pass the lines and reach the Allied troops,” Marco said.

“Also, my grandfather provided help, hiding the airmen at our family farm called Poggio di Casola, Castel di Casio village, near Porretta Terme (Bologna). 

“On the British military maps of the area—to which my father could get a look—our farm was marked as ‘a family that helps British troops,’ or something similar.” 

Aerial view of Poggio di Casola, 1933

The airmen, Marco explained, turned up individually at the farm over time. 

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A Reflection on Heroism and Humility

Antonio and Domenica Cavaciuti

“There is a certificate of gratitude hanging in my grandmother’s house in London that was awarded to my great-grandfather, Antonio Cavaciuti,” Sophia Boeri wrote to me last month. 

“I recently began to enquire about the history of this certificate to my family. My grandfather passed away before I was born and so I was never able to ask him directly about the certificate. My family don’t know too much about the story behind it—all that they’ve been able to tell me is that my great-grandfather helped to protect British soldiers during World War II and that his actions were deemed to be very courageous, especially considering that he had nine young children. 

“I began to search for more information on the internet and came across your website, so was hoping that you will be able to provide me with more information about the actions of people like my great-grandfather.”

I told Sophia I would like to share their great-grandparents’ story and asked if she would send me a few photos.

Sophia wrote again a couple of weeks later. “Sorry about the delay in responding to you,” she said. “It took a while to sort through many boxes of family photos!

“I have attached a picture of my great-grandfather’s Alexander certificate, a photo of Antonio and Domenica, a clearer photo of Antonio and a photo of all their children together.

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“Remarkable Gallantry” of Lt. Alberto Orlandi


Alberto Orlandi

On this website, there are several posts concerning Italians who served as agents with Allied I.S.9 operations (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force) during the Second World War.

The case of Lieutenant Alberto Orlandi warrants special attention. Below is the description of his background from the I.S.9 files. Following that is a letter of recommendation from U.S. Army Air Force Captain R.W.B. Lewis for an American Bronze Star Medal for the Italian.

An I.S.9 response to the request follows his letter.

And, last of all, is the text of an unsigned memo of recommendation for a British decoration of M.B.E. [Member of the Order of the British Empire] for Lieutenant Orlandi. Although this letter does not bear a date, it does refer to the lieutenant’s service through July 1945 (whereas the Captain Lewis’ letter is dated January 1945.

I do not know if Alberti Orlandi in fact received either of these honors.

My thanks to Brian Sims for sharing this material from the British National Archives.

Alberto Orlandi

Lieutenant, Italian Army

Born November 2, 1919 at Citta della Pieve, Perugia Province

Alberto was educated at Citta della Pieve and Siena. He volunteered for service with the Italian Army in 1937 and served three years with the infantry, during which he was stationed on the French front. In 1940 he volunteered as a parachutist, received a course in parachutist training, and performed eleven drops. He served against the partisans in Croatia, and also in Sicily and Southern Italy during Allied invasion. Late in September 1943 he reported for service to Badoglio’s army.

In October 1943 Alberto volunteered for intelligence service and joined I.S.9 at Bari on December 2, 1943. He was employed by Captain R.W.B. Lewis (No. 5 Field Section, I.S.9) on January 12, 1944. He served in the capacity of an Italian staff officer. As he was attached to I.S.9 from the Italian Army, his pay was from the Italian Army.

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Honours and Awards

The following memorandum issued in April 1945 by A British deputy military secretary outline the types of awards that are available to foreign civilians.

Thanks to Brian Sims for access to this document, which is from the British National Archives.


Allied Force Headquarters
April 11, 1945

Subject: Honours and Awards

Awards to Foreign Civilians

1. There are now 4 classes of Awards open to foreign civilians, as follows:-

(a) George Medal for outstanding and exceptional gallantry.

(b) OBE [Officer of the Order of the British Empire], MBE [Member of the Order of the British Empire], and BEM [British Empire Medal] for great gallantry or service.

(c) King’s Medal for gallantry or service.

(d) Certificate No. 17 (otherwise known as commendation).

Citations are required for all of the above.

2. The King’s Medal is a recent institution and is divided into 2 categories:-

(a) For courage in the cause of freedom, and

(b) For service to the cause of freedom.

These medals will not be struck until the end of the War, but ribbons will be made available at a later date.

3. Italians are not yet eligible for any of the Awards mentioned in paras. [paragraphs] above, but suitable recommendations may be forwarded and will be sent to the War Office to be held pending further decisions.

G. H. Hunt,
A/Deputy Military Secretary.

“Courage of the Very Highest Order”

The following letter recommending formal decoration of an Italian youth was sent to British authorities from “the field” of Italy in January 1944 by Captain B. G. McGibbon-Lewis, The Black Watch, Royal Highland Regiment.

The letter is a moving tribute to 18-year-old Franco Scoletta, who valiantly served I.S.9 (‘A’ Force) in escaped POWs rescue operations.

The document, from the British National Archives, is courtesy of Brian Sims.

Franco Scoletta

This Italian boy of 18 has worked with me since September 15th, 1943, up until December 1st, 1943. I picked him, whilst escaping from German-occupied ITALY, on the train from ANCONA to PESCARA. He told me he was disgusted with ITALY and the inhabitants and his one object was to reach and work for the BRITISH in whatever capacity they saw fit. When I was enrolled as a temporary member of ‘A’ Force I brought him with me. I arranged he should be paid 2000 Lire a month and he could receive 1000 Lire per P/W as arranged for all ITALIAN agents on operation SIMCOL. He has refused to accept any of this on the grounds that his motives are not financial. He accompanied Major McKEE, M.C. and myself on our first operation for 14 days and proved himself to be of invaluable assistance. He showed no fear when crossing the lines and was willing to do anything we asked of him. Frequently he had to approach ‘doubtful’ ITALIANS and he never refused any order or request given him. On our return we went to GULIONESE to pull thorough the lines the P/Ws we had left on the other side. SCOLETTA went through again and was responsible for some twenty to thirty getting through safely. He was captured by the GERMANS with 5 P.O.Ws, and by driving into a WADI not only escaped himself but enabled the P/Ws to do so as well. He then returned with a sprained knee to me with four P/Ws. Within two days he was back the other side again and succeeded in liberating the remains of an American Bomber crew. On each of these occasions he brought back Military Information of great use which I handed on to 36 Brigade, this included details of gun positions and mines on that front.

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