Category Archives: Albert Rosenblum

Next-of-Kin Parcels—Packed with Care


This illustration of next-of-kin parcel repackers working out of the repacking center at Finsbury Circus in London appeared in a cheerful article published in the September 1942 edition of The Prisoner of War journal. The Prisoner of War was the official journal of the Prisoners of War Department of the Red Cross and St. John War Organisation (St. James Palace, London). The journal was provided free to next-of-kin.

Al Rosenblum, son of former Camp 59 prisoner Staff Sergeant Albert Rosenblum, sent me the materials for this post some time ago. But perhaps there is no better time to share this information than during this “season of giving.”


I Repack Your Parcel

The Prisoner of War
September 1942

Described by an examiner at the Next-of-kin Packing Centre at Finsbury Circus.

I work in the packing department of the Next-of-Kin Packing Centre at Finsbury circus, where parcels from next-of-kin are checked and repacked before being sent on their long journey to the prisoners of war. There are 120 of us in the large packing room where I work.

My job is to examine the parcels as they arrive, and I like to think that it is the most important job of all.

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Albert Rosenblum—An “Active Life”


This article about Albert Rosenblum was published in the Supply Line newsletter of the Defense Construction Supply Center in Whitehall, Ohio, on the occasion of Albert’s retirement from the DCSC in 1975. The article is courtesy Albert son, Al Rosenblum.

‘Active life’ keeps 70-year-old young

Supply Line
February 1975
Vol. 12, No. 3

At 70, Albert Rosenblum is retiring from his second career, talking about beginning a third, and, above all, still relishing the excitement of life.

“I would like to make it 50 years even, but they tell me I can’t,” said Rosenblum, whose 23 years in the Army were followed by 22 years at DCSC and its predecessors. He left the Center in January, after reaching the mandatory retirement age.

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Albert Rosenblum with the Virgili Family

Above: Duilio Virgili

Alle amico [To a friend]
Alberto Rosenblum

Last June, Alan Rosenblum sent me a detailed account of the protection his father, Sergeant Albert Rosenblum, was given by the Virgili family of Ortezzano, Italy, after his escape from Camp 59 in 1943.

Al also sent scans of a few old photographs and an envelope from a letter sent by Duilio Virgili to his father after the war (the letter has since been lost).

I forwarded Al’s account and the photos to Italian researcher Filippo Ieranò in Servigliano, Italy, explaining that Al was interested in making contact with the Virgili family.

In September, Filippo replied: “It was not easy, but eventually I managed to get in touch with Rita Virgili, the sister of Duilio Virgili of Ortezzano.”

Filippo explained, “Mrs. Virgili recalls that Albert and several other American prisoners came to their house during the war. She currently lives in Rome, and would be very glad to establish a relationship with Alan Rosenblum.”

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Kind Strangers—Relays from Radio Rome

World War II Radio Heroes: Letters of Compassion, published in 2007 by psychologist Lisa Spahr and Austin Camacho, tells the story of shortwave radio listeners who collected and relayed information broadcast from enemy territory about newly-captured POWs to their families in the U.S.

An entry about Letters of Compassion on Wikipedia has this to say about the effort:

“During World War II, short messages from prisoners of war were often read by studio announcers at stations in Germany, Japan, and other Axis powers countries. A number of shortwave listeners copied the prisoner names and addresses and notified families by mail or telephone, and the practice became known as ‘Prisoner of War relay’ or ‘POW monitoring’. Although the Allied government provided similar services, the families usually heard from shortwave listeners first, sometimes as many as 100 at a time.

“Many wartime listeners were ordinary citizens who discovered they were able access the shortwave bands; a feature included on many premium consumer radios of the era. Times and radio frequencies of the news from Rome, Berlin and Tokyo were published daily on the radio page of The New York Times. Others were dedicated shortwave listeners or DXers who maintained an ongoing interest in long-distance radio listening as a hobby. Still others were licensed amateur radio operators who were, as a group, banned from transmitting due to wartime restrictions, but often kept their listening gear in operation.”

In May 1943, Sergeant Albert Rosenblum’s family received a host of these cards from shortwave listeners around the U.S. The writers reported they had heard Albert’s name and his home address broadcast from Rome.

In addition to the news conveyed, concern and encouragement these strangers expressed must have been a great comfort to the Rosenblums.

For Albert Rosenblum’s full story, read the following post:
A Family in Service.

Helen Barrett
317 Burnet Park Dr.
Syracuse, N.Y. [New York]

Mr. Horace Rosenblum
Route 1
Box 48
Swan Lake, N.Y.

May 8, 1943

Dear Mr. Rosenblum,

Last evening I was listening to my short-wave radio and tuned in on a news broadcast from a station in Italy. The news was in English, and among other information, were the names, addresses, etc. of American soldiers who are “Italian prisoners”. Your son’s name was among those given:

Albert Rosenblum

Perhaps you already have this information, but as a fellow American with a young brother in the war I feel it is my duty, really, to send this news on to you.

Hoping you will be hearing good news of your son very soon, I remain—

Sincerely yours,
(Miss) Helen Barrett

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A Southward Migration

This undated newspaper photo was clipped and saved by British former prisoner-of-war Denis Crooks.

The source, the Evening Standard, is evidently the London Evening Standard.

The caption reads:

“‘Welcome Home’ Sign in Italy

“So many Allied officers and men are escaping through the enemy lines to the Eighth Army that directional signs have been put up for them. One of the signs in the village of Vinchiaturo.”

[The stenciled sign in the photo reads “ALLIED EX POW REPORT HERE.”]

Two Transfer of Personnel Documents

Document No. 1—November 3, 1943

The following “transfer of personnel” document—my father Sergeant Armie Hill’s “ticket home” after reunion with the Allied forces following his escape—was framed and proudly displayed on our living room wall for many years when I was a child.

Armie and his escape companion Ben Farley made it to the Allied lines in 31 days, having traveled an estimated 300 miles on foot through the mountains in order to evade recapture. They escaped on September 14 and arrived at the British Eighth Army line on October 15.

These eight men were the first prisoners to turn up, and Armie later said, “They didn’t know what to do with us.”

All eight escapees listed in this document escaped from Camp 59 in Servigliano.

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A Family in Service

I’ve given this post the title “A Family in Service” in recognition of the way the war affected both American serviceman Albert Rosenblum and his family as a whole.

Like many families during World War II, Al’s parents had more than one son serving in the military.

Al was married when he went overseas in 1942. A close network of relatives provided support for his wife Rose and for his parents while he was at war and a prisoner.

After the war’s end, Al stayed in the service, and Rose and their son Alan lived with him when he was stationed in occupied Japan. Al also served in the Korean War. He enlisted in 1929 and served to 1938. He then rejoined his old unit in 1939 and served until 1953.

Staff Sergeant Albert Rosenblum with son Alan and wife Rose in Japan, 1947.

Here is Alan’s story of his dad’s service:

My father, Staff Sergeant Albert Rosenblum, joined the U.S. Army during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. He served at Fort Hamilton, New York, Schofield Barracks in the Territory of Hawaii, and Fort Douglas, Utah. During that period he twice encountered President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Once when F.D.R. made an inspection tour of Hawaii military bases and later at the dedication of The Hoover (Boulder) Dam, where my father was a member of the Honor Guard.

Photos Al took of Franklin Delano Roosevelt when the president was on Hawaiian inspection tour, 1934.

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