Category Archives: Italian Helpers

Vaccarezza Family—P.G. 52 Escapees Protected

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Farm building on a remote property owned by the Italian couple Gaetano and Maria Vaccarezza, where five escapees from P.G. 52 were sheltered

I received a note last month from Frank Vaccarezza. Frank explained that for a time during the war, his Italian grandparents had sheltered five Allied POWs, all escapees from P.G 52.

Frank who was born in Italy, has lived in the U.S. for most of his life. However, he is in communication with cousins in Italy, who live near his grandparent’s old property. Frank has asked that I post information about his grandparents’ assistance to the soldiers in the hopes of his making connections with the servicemen’s families.

Here is the information Frank sent:

I am trying to locate the families of several British Commonwealth soldiers who escaped during WW2 from P.G. 52 near Chiavari, Italy and hid from the German army in an old stone structure. Chiavari is a town on the Mediterranean Sea coast just about 25 miles south of Genoa. It’s believed these soldiers escaped some time in 1943, but I can’t really be sure of the year.

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I.S.9 Captain Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello

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Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello

Many of the stories on this site concerning the protection of escaped POWs describe the brave actions of the contadini, the poor farmers of central Italy.

But people from other strata of Italian society were also involved in the rescue of escapees and evaders. Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello, the son of R. Ranieri Bourbon del Monte, Marquis of Sorbello, and of Romeyne Robert, an American, is one example of an aristocrat and scholar who lent his expertise and means to the cause of rescuing these stranded soldiers.

A document recommending an award for Uguccione, now in the British National Archives (provided by researcher Brian Sims), has this to say about Uguccione’s service:

“From early November, 1943 until June, 1944 this officer worked behind the lines organising the escape of Allied P/W and showed great personal courage and disregard of danger. On one occasion when the land escape route was disrupted due to enemy vigilance and activity he successfully arranged the evacuation by fishing boat of 27 P/Ws. He was constantly aware of the atrocities committed against P/W by the Germans and Fascists and did all in his power to alleviate the plight of these prisoners. Through the partisans he pursued the originators of these atrocities and saw to it that a number met a proper fate. His energy and extreme loyalty was an inspiration to the many Italian soldiers who worked alongside him.”

In 1945, Uguccione was decorated with a silver medal for valor—and, in 1949, a Ministry of Defense bronze medal—for his rescue and recovery involvement.

I am grateful to Uguccione’s son, Professor Ruggero Ranieri, for allowing me to share on this site the following paper about his father.

The role of Uguccione Ranieri di Sorbello in the operations of the Ratline (Marche and Abruzzi)

1. Sources used

There are two main sources on the history of the Adriatic coast Ratline, which was active between December 1943 and June 1944. One consists of the documents of IS9 itself, which are kept at the NA in Kew Garden. The documentation is fairly vast, but there are two important files covering the key events: Major Fillingham’s report and the Newsletter of IS9 itself, printed every fortnight with news from the various battle fronts, or better from the various Field Section in which A-Force was divided.

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Captain L. C. Giovanni Nebbia

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Captain L.C. Giovanni Nebbia

Over the past several months, I have exchanged a number of e-mails with Annelisa Nebbia, whose father, Captain L.C. Giovanni Nebbia, was involved in the Adriatic coast rescue of Allied POWs during the war.

Annelisa explained, “My father was a sea-captain and his missions were mainly sea missions. His movements as a “helper” took place in the province of Ascoli Piceno and in Southern Italy, precisely in the area including the towns of Termoli, Manfredonia, and Vieste situated along that coast.

“According to his personal diary, I know that he came into contact with the Eighth Army stationed in Italy. In particular, on 5th October 1943 under the command of an American officer of the A.M.G.O.T. [Allied Military Government for Occupied Territories] my father took the fishing-fleet of my town to the Tremiti Islands, because it certainly would have been seized by the Germans who were due to arrive the next morning at 7 a.m. He told the fishermen and owners of the trawlers to bring as much food as they could, as nobody knew how long they would have to stay there. The food would help to ensure their survival.

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Interview with Gino Antognozzi

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Gino Antognozzi at age 24, July 27, 1950

Introduction

The transcript of an interview with Gino Antognozzi that makes up this post is courtesy of Gino’s nephew Alfredo. The interview comes to me by way of Anne Copley, who translated the transcript from Italian into English.

Last summer Anne located the family of Sydney Harold Swingler, known to Gino’s family only as “Antonio” when they sheltered him during the war, and put the two families in contact with each other.

See “Swingler and Antognozzi Familes United.”

Gino Antognozzi lives with his wife Annunziata in Montelparo, a small town about 30 km. from the city of Fermo. He is 89 years old today.

Last summer, on being shown a photograph of Sydney Swingler, Gino immediately recognized him, saying: “It’s him, it’s Antonio.”

“Why Antonio didn’t write a letter, a postcard?” he asked. “I thought he had been killed in war, and he could not go back to England.”

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“Remarkable Gallantry” of Lt. Alberto Orlandi

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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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I.S.9 Italian Agents, Part 5

This is the fifth part in a series of posts concerning Italians who served as agents for I.S.9 (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force).

I.S.9′s chief mission was support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory. I.S.9 was a division of M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

I am grateful to researcher Brian Sims for allowing me access to his collection of British National Archives I.S.9 files.

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Ezio Terrizzano

Born November 2, 1913 at San Bartolomeo del Cervo, Imperia Province. Ezio was a lieutenant in the Italian army (artillery) in Libya until April 1942, and thereafter he served in Italy until the armistice. He spoke French and English fairly well. (He could make himself understood).

Ezio was attached for duty with I.S.9 by the Italian High Command. He was employed by Field Section No. 1 in the capacity of liaison discipline at the Bari headquarters.

He ceased to be employed on May 22, 1945, as his services were no longer required due to conclusion of hostilities. He proceeded to Milan on May 23 for 21 day’s leave, after which he was to report to the Italian authorities.

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I.S.9 Italian Agents, Part 4

This is the fourth part in a series of posts concerning Italians who served as agents for I.S.9 (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force).

I.S.9′s chief mission was support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory. I.S.9 was a division of M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

I am grateful to researcher Brian Sims for providing access to his collection of I.S.9 files from the British National Archives for this series.

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Antonio Stasolla

Born January 28, 1920 at Santeramo (Bari Province).

Antonio was a bricklayer at Castellaneta. He was called up to serve in the Army on March 12, 1940. He served in the infantry and joined the parachutists.

He held a parachutist’s Tessera di Riconoscimento (identity card).

He served in Italy, Croatia (for two months), and Sicily. At Armistice, he was in Calabria with the Nembo Division of the Italian Army. He volunteered for A Force service, and joined N Section at Palese in the capacity of para-guide on December 11, 1943.

He was issued a false Carta d’Identita for Foggia in the name Antonio Stasi, muratore.

He ceased to be employed on May 15, 1945 because of lack of work due to conclusion of hostilities. He was paid off by Field Headquarters and sent to Bari on May 16, and then to proceed to Taranto for four weeks leave. Thereafter he was to report to the Italian authorities.

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I.S.9 Italian Agents, Part 3

This is the third part in a series of posts concerning Italians who served as agents for I.S.9 (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force).

I.S.9′s chief mission was support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory. I.S.9 was a division of M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

Thanks to researcher Brian Sims for access to his archives of I.S.9 files from the British National Archives.

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Ernesto Petrucci

Born on February 27, 1915 in San Marcello.

Ernesto was a woodcutter at Abetone. He was called to the Italian Army in 1938, but left the army in 1939 because of a knee injury. He joined “Gino Bozzi” Brigade (a unit, apparently operating in the Apennines of Pistoia, of the “Garibaldi” partisan brigades)—Ospedale—in May 1944.

Ernesto had intimate knowledge of the region from Modena to Pistoia. He spoke French. He held a true identity card for Abetone.

He was employed by Captain B. G. McGibbon-Lewis, No. 5 Field Section, as an agent/guide on January 10, 1945. His name during employment was Didon. No false identification was issued to him.

He ceased to be employed on April 27, 1945 because his services were no longer required due to the Allied advance. After being paid off, he returned to his home.

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I.S.9 Italian Agents, Part 2

This is the second part in a series of posts concerning Italians who served as agents for I.S.9 (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force).

I.S.9’s chief mission was support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. I.S.9 was a division of M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

Thanks to researcher Brian Sims for access to his archives of I.S.9 files from the British National Archives.

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Giovanbattista Marcus

Born in Azzano Decimo (Udine province) on March 12, 1920.

Giovanbattista was raised in Azzano, where he worked on his uncle’s farm. He was called up to serve in 1940 in the 17th sector of the Guardia Frontiera (border guard). He transferred to the Italian Army parachutists in 1941, but did not serve outside Italy. He was in Calabria with Nembo division of the Paracadutisti at the time of the Armistice.

Giovanbattista volunteered for special service from the Italian Army in December 1943.

He knew the whole area of Veneto fairly well and Udine area very well. He served in the province of Vercelli for about a year.

His employment with N Section, Advance Headquarters of A Force began on December 7, 1943. He served as an agent/guide who whose name during employment was Battista.

He was issued the following false document: Carta d’Identita – Comune de Spilimbergo, Marcus G. Battista, agricoltore

His employment with I.S.9 ceased on October 31, 1944, and was returned to his regiment in Bari on November 2.

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I.S.9 Italian Agents, Part 1

This is the first of what will be a series of posts concerning Italians who served as agents for I.S.9 (Intelligence School 9 of the Central Mediterranean Force).

The chief task of I.S.9 was support and rescue of escaped POWs and evaders (E&Es) stranded in enemy territory in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. I.S.9 was a division of M.I.9 (British Directorate of Military Intelligence Section 9), a department of the War Office during WW II.

I am grateful to researcher Brian Sims for allowing me access to his documentation of I.S.9 files from the British National Archives.

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Emidio Liverani

Born in Faenza on October 14, 1920.

Before the war, Emidio worked with his father in agriculture. In 1941 he was called up for service in the Italian Army and served in the Italian-Yugoslav frontier. In September 1943 he returned home, and in November he joined the partisans in Romagna.

In October 1944 Emidio joined I.S.9 No. 5 Field Section. The name he used while working for I.S.9 was Antonio Fadolfi.

He was employed by Captain B. G. McGibbon-Lewis in the capacity of guide from October 9 to December 22, 1944. At that time he was paid off and given a pass to return home.

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