Category Archives: Nicola and Liberato Lagalla

“The Earthquake” Returns to San Benedetto

This clipping from a local San Benedetto Del Tronto (Marche, Italy) newspaper, commemorated the return, after two decades, of a favorite son—Nicola Lagalla, known to locals as “the earthquake.”

Nicola returned to San Benedetto when the hometown soccer team, Samb, was having a spectacular season.

Nicola’s daughter, Marida Parkes, in sending me the clipping, explained:

“When Samb climbed up the soccer ladder—because of their win—the town went berserk… they celebrated for weeks (as you do when you are Italian). Dad and mum flew to Italy for the festivities.

“Dad is fanatical about his soccer and Aussie Rules football. To this day he does not miss a match and will get up at all hours to watch.”

Sanbenedettese, the name for a person who is born in San Benedetto Del Tronto, is also the name of the soccer team—or Samb for short. Red and Blue are the Samb team colors.

Translation of the article:

NICOLA LAGALLA (earthquake)

“Today amongst us, we have chosen an enthusiastic, fanatical pureblooded Sanbenedettese who, from such a distance, has maintained his love not only for his soccer team, Samb, but also that of his hometown.

“He immigrated to Australia 20 years ago. With such distance between them, he missed his family and he has also missed his beloved team—Samb. The only comfort, as the newspaper reported on Tuesday, was that the Red & Blue team was promoted on the football ladder. Upon hearing this, he could not ignore the call to return to his roots and returned to San Benedetto Del Tronto for the festivities.

“He [Nicola] will remain here with us until the beginning of the next season/championship.”

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Nicola Lagalla—After the Rescue

Marida describes the photo above: “This is of dad and myself—yes, with a ‘boy coif.’ I was two years old and dad would then have been 29 years old. It was taken at San Benedetto, opposite the port.”

Below right: Nicola Lagalla in recent years.

I asked Mariada Parkes this week if her father, Nicola Lagalla, and his brother Liberato ever returned to San Benedetto del Tronto after their transport of the British POWs down the Adriatic coast. (See “Nicola and Liberato Lagalla—Rescue by Sea” for the full story.)

She replied, “Papà tells me that after he and his brother delivered the POWs to safety, their boats were tied up alongside an American ship in Termoli for approximately one month.

“The boats used to assist the POWs were the San Nicola—built by my nonno [grandfather] and named after my dad—and the Luigi Primo. My nonno purchased the second boat, which had already been named.

“Dad and uncle had no money and no diesel for the boats.

“After a while, the Americans supplied them with diesel so that they could take the boats out fishing. They fished off the shores of Termoli, Molfetta, and Barletta. They sold the fish at the fish markets in these towns and then returned to the ship in Termoli.

“There was a curfew at the time—and so, dad and uncle returned to Termoli every day no later than 5 p.m.

“A little twist—in Barletta, dad met a man who had previously been a POW in Tobruk for two years. This fellow was allowed to help dad as a deck hand.

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Nicola and Liberato Lagalla—Rescue by Sea

I was pleased to hear not long ago from Marida Parkes. Her father Nicola Lagalla and his brother Liberato were instrumental in transporting Captain J. H. Derek Millar and dozens of other escaped prisoners down Italy’s Adriatic coast from San Benedetto del Tronto to Termoli.

Marida had read Captain Millar’s autobiography and recognized her father’s role in his escape. Soon after, she interviewed her dad so that she could share the his story with Captain Millar’s son, Lenox.

Nicola now resides in Perth, Western Australia.

Here is his story:

“My brother and I knew nothing of the prisoners until we were approached by Commander Nebbia—my nautical professor—and Mr. Antonio Marchegiani.

“Prior to their approaching us, my brother and I had already decided that we were going to escape [from San Benedetto del Tronto] with our boats within two days. The boats belonged to my nonno [grandfather] Emidio Lagalla.

“They were the only two boats left on the wharf—and due to be sunk by the Germans.

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