Category Archives: Armie Hill

Joe Maly in Italy

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Al Maly provided this photograph of his father, Joe Maly, taken when Joe was in Italy and while he was being sheltered by the Papiri family of Montefalcone.

To the best of my knowledge the writing on the back of the photo reads:

Montefalcone li 25-6-1944 (A. Piceno)

Mio dovere come patriota, lasciarvi a tutti il ricordo
Famiglia Papiri, Nello Papiri

The first line indicates the village name (Montefalcone Appennino), the date (June 25, 1944), and the province the village was a part of at the time (Ascoli Piceno). Montefalcone is today a part of the newly-formed Province of Fermo.

The next two lines translate as “My duty as a patriot,” plus something along the lines of “I’ll leave you all this record [or keepsake].”

And it is signed,
“Papiri Family, Nello Papiri”

According to Al, the first man standing on the left is a son in the Papiri family. Next to the son is Joe Maly, and beside Joe is James Guillary. The other three men in the photo were also escaped POWs. Joe and “Gilly” were both housed in Hut 4–Section 11 of Camp 59.

Al told me his dad “was one of the men who made it out through the hole in the wall and in his group one of the men was shot. They could not go back for him as they were under fire. He never talked much about the war, only little indirect statements when I was young and a little more detail as I got older and more close to him.”

After the escape, Joe fought with the Italian resistance. He eventually made it to the Polish lines.

Joe passed away in January 2000.

Armie’s Italian Angels

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After escape from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943, Armie Hill and Ben Farley traveled south together and reached the British 8th Army, near Termoli, on October 15.

During this month-long journey the soldiers were assisted by a number of Italians.

In his two recorded accounts of the escape, Armie describes the help they received from the Bianchini family.

Two Bianchini addresses are recorded in his address book:

Bianchini Angela
Caserine N118
Roccafluvione
Ascoli Piceno

Bianchini Angelo
Porta Romana N18
Ascoli Piceno

Armie explained that the Bianchinis “…owned a place in the city, but this [the home in Roccafluvione] was out in the country—kind of like a hiding place or like a resort.” By contrast, Porta Romana is one of the six historical quarters of the city of Ascoli Piceno.

A woman who marries in Italy does not take her husband’s surname, but keeps her own family name. Therefore, Angelo Bianchini would likely have been Angela’s brother, cousin, or some other blood relative.

The addresses of two other Italian families are recorded in Armie’s address book.

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The Survival Tale of John O. Everett

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Nazareno Lupi and his wife, whose family hid John Everett and Willis Largent for over nine months. John received this picture after the war from the Lupi family.

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John Everett (with arms crossed) and two comrades.

Two weeks ago I received these photographs and the following story from John O. Everett, Jr.

He wrote, “Dad’s story is in the form of a submission he and I made to TNT years ago when they were focusing on soldiers’ stories one Memorial Day weekend. I had sat down with my Dad several times to obtain the timeline and other details for the story, and it was completed and submitted a year before he died. Although TNT did not include his story during the broadcast, I am so glad that I documented his experience so that I can provide the details to you.”

John O. Everett, Sr. passed away in 1995.

It’s a pleasure to share his story, and it’s my hope that the gratitude he wished to send to the Lupi family by way of the TNT broadcast will find it’s way to them somehow through this site.

John Everett and Willis Largent were both interned in Hut 4–Section 11—the section of men Armie Hill was assigned when he was transferred to the camp.

Here is John’s tale, which he named “The Unsung WWII Heroes of Italy: A POW’s Story.”

The Unsung WWII Heroes of Italy:
A POW’s Story

“What the hell part of the world are you from?”

I still remember this question asked of three scruffy American soldiers in June, 1944 by an officer in the South African Army near Foggia, Italy. The rags that served as our clothing were part U.S. Army issue, part Italian farmer, and our boots had more holes than leather. And yet we were happy, we were safe, and we owed our lives to an Italian family that hid four prisoners of war from the Germans for over nine months.

The history books tell us that Italy was our enemy during World War II. But you will never convince a number of POWs who owe their lives to the courage and generosity of several poor Italian families who shared when they had nothing to give.

World War II began for me when I was drafted in early 1942. I had originally volunteered for service in 1941, but was turned down due a problem with my legs. Like so many other health problems, mine was “reevaluated” when the fighting got hot and heavy in 1942.
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A Timeline of Armie Hill’s Service

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The above mimeographed certificate indicates that Armie Hill was deloused on March 29, 1943. At the time Armie was being held in Le Bardo, a Tunisian city west of Tunis in North Africa. He had been at the camp since March 3, and on the day after the delousing, March 30, he was flown to Camp 98 on Sicily.

Translated from German, the certificate reads:

“Prisoner-of-War Camp Le Bardo
The prisoner-of-war Sgt. Hill
was on 29.3.43 deloused
[signature] Camp Commander [signature] Camp Doctor”

Timeline

Here is a timeline of Armie Hill’s service in the United States Army, from induction to discharge:

1941

January 20—accepted for active military service at Induction Center, Milwaukee, and sent to Reception Center, Fort Sheridan, Illinois

January 23—assigned to 19th Engineer Corps, Fort Ord, California

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Men of Hut 4–Section 11

As I mentioned in earlier posts, my father, Armie Hill, was put in charge of a section of 35 men (Hut 4–Section 11) in Camp 59. The first page of his camp notebook contains a roll of the men.

Armie listed them according to B. No. (perhaps an abbreviation for bunk or bed number), Rate (rank), Surname–First Name–Middle Initial, and Serial Number.

Interestingly, I noticed that three of the men (Edgar J. Curttright, Allen A. Coombs, and Claude J. Cole) had consecutive serial numbers. On investigation, I learned that the three were inducted at Cedar Rapids, Iowa on the same day—February 10, 1941—into the Army National Guard Infantry. I assume they knew each other, served in the same unit in North Africa, and were captured together.

All 35 men are listed in the U.S. National Archives WW II POW records. Armie’s address book contains addresses for a number of them. In future individual posts I will document all I know about each of these men.

B. No. 361—Sergeant Armie S. Hill—Serial No. 36200720
B. No. 362—Sergeant Kenneth E. Gaddy—Serial No. 20701847
B. No. 363—Corporal Michael M. Sterm—Serial No. 2703555
B. No. 364—Private Morris Scianna—Serial No. 33147188
B. No. 364—Private Rochester F. Nettles—Serial No. 34059817
B. No. 366—Private Joe Maly—Serial No. 16000460
B. No. 367—Corporal William S. Kornrumph—Serial No. 12020628
B. No. 368—Private First Class William W. Hurley—Serial No. 38064103
B. No. 369—Private First Class Gilbert D. Loonam—Serial No. 32019660
B. No. 370—Corporal Warron A. Colver—Serial No. 20705564
B. No. 371—Private First Class Lawrence F. Hunt—Serial No. 14038487
B. No. 372—Private First Class James Guillary—Serial No. 6959286
B. No. 373—Private First Class Earl C. Linaweaver—Serial No. 13023638
B. No. 374—Corporal Edgar J. Curttright—Serial No. 20701885
B. No. 375—Corporal Les J. Cratty—Serial No. 10600080
B. No. 376—Corporal Robert D. Chandler—Serial No. 15059956
B. No. 377—Private First Class Ray W. Dentler—Serial No. 37073082
B. No. 378—Private First Class Allen A. Coombs—Serial No. 20701884
B. No. 379—Private First Class James Collins—Serial No. 13022149
B. No. 380—Private First Class Claude J. Cole—Serial No. 20701883
B. No. 381—Private First Class Willis Largent—Serial No. 13023021
B. No. 382—Private First Class Alvie D. Cochran—Serial No. 15055130
B. No. 383—Private First Class Fredric G. Busky [Frederick G. Buske]—
Serial No.37038102
B. No. 384—Private John E. Buchanan—Serial No. 20701816
B. No. 385—Private First Class Stanley Bentley—Serial No. 15055095
B. No. 386—Private First Class Harold S. Arneson—Serial No. 39602619
B. No. 387—Private First Class Dillard W. Anderson—Serial No. 33090088
B. No. 388—Private First Class Arnold L. Anderson—Serial No. 20714955
B. No. 389—Private First Class Harold Adkins—Serial No. 33090536
B. No. 390—Private Anthony P. Fiore—Serial No. 32003230
B. No. 391—Private Ray Felcle [Felchle]—Serial No. 37025587
B. No. 392—Private Benjamin F. Farley—Serial No. 15054958
B. No. 393—Private Chris J. Facchina—Serial No. 33189164
B. No. 394—Private First Class John O. Everett—Serial No. 34138090
B. No. 395—Private August C. Erdbrink—Serial No. 33067286
B. No. 396—Private Billy V. England—Serial No. 6956161

Combat and Capture—Armie’s 1976 Story

This account is from the first of two interviews with Armie regarding his experience during World War II. Armie’s son Dennis Hill taped this conversation on February 21, 1976 in Phelps, Wisconsin.

Dennis edited the transcript; Armie also made a few additions and corrections to the story.

This portrait of Armie was created by an artist in North Africa.

En Route to Invasion

“On August 31, 1942 the troops in my company left the States. Our first stop was Antrim County, Ireland. We were in Ireland for a few weeks. Then they sent us to England—to Liverpool. In England we had an idea that we would be sent someplace, but we didn’t know where we would be sent. We had been given extra training. We had spent time getting all our equipment ready. Everything had to be covered with oil and grease so that it would be waterproof, and then we covered it with canvas.

“One day we were told to be ready to load on the ships. They took us in barges out to the ships. And the ship that I was loaded on—I was a sergeant and a squad-leader at the time—wasn’t a passenger ship but an old, Russian ship that had been used to carry freight. It really wasn’t sea-worthy. All around ships were being loaded. It took us several days to load and assemble the convoy. Finally, we set off from Liverpool.

“We were given orders to stay below deck. When we were allowed on deck, we weren’t supposed to throw anything in the water that would give a clue as to the trail of the ships. When we did throw anything overboard—garbage or anything—it was always at night.

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Combat and Capture—Armie’s 1987 Story

This account of Armie Hill’s early service experience, from induction and training through combat and capture, is based on the second of two tape-recorded interviews Armie made with his son Dennis.

This conversation was recorded on August 24–26, 1987 in Phelps, Wisconsin. Dennis edited the transcript and made a few additions and corrections that Armie requested.

Armie Hill at Fort Ord, California, 1941

First Year in Service

“I’ll start my story from the beginning, when I was first inducted into the service. I received my draft notice 1940 and signed up for selective service. Word came that December that I would be called, and I was inducted into the service in January 1941.

“This was the first draft and I was one of the first men drafted from Vilas County. There were about seven of us who were drafted from Vilas County, and I was the first one from the town of Phelps. We went to the courthouse in Eagle River and we were driven by bus—I think it was to the train station—and then we took a train to Chicago, and then from Chicago to Fort Sheridan, Illinois.

“At Fort Sheridan we were selected to go to Fort Ord in California. We went by train and it took us several days to get there.

“At that time, Fort Ord had been a tent camp—everyone had been living in tents. Before we arrived, new barracks had just been hastily put up and everything at the fort was still a mess. A lot of the work was still undone. The streets were sand. It was raining. We hadn’t had basic training, so we got all of our training there at Fort Ord.

“All was confusion there. I thought to myself, ‘If they’d just let me out, I’d walk home.’

Continue reading

An Unpaid Bill for Onions

This note reads:

“SEC. No 11. received from Canteen 30 KILOS of onions at 3 LIRE per kilo TOTAL LIRE = 90 Lire To be payed on the 16/9/43.

“8/IX/1943 [signed] Armie Hill Sec. Sergt.”

This scrap of paper, which was both a receipt for onions received and an I.O.U. for payment owed, was in Armie Hill’s pocket when he escaped from Camp 59 on September 14, 1943.

Armie was the Section 11 “section sergeant,” the serviceman who was put in charge of the 35 American servicemen who lived with him in Hut 4—Section 11.

The date of the receipt is written 8/IX/1943, seemingly a combination of Arabic and Roman numerals. If this is the case, then the transaction date was September 8, 1943—the day the Italian Armistice was signed.

And the due date for payment was September 16, 1943—two days after breakout from the camp.

It’s interesting to learn the price on onions from this slip (paid for in special Camp 59 POW money, of course), and to know that at least on occasion purchase of food on credit was allowed.

Sympathy of a Senator

In June 1943, U.S. Senator Robert M. La Follette, Jr. of Wisconsin wrote this letter to Hilda Hill expressing his sympathy and encouragement.

Robert M. La Follete, Jr. was elected to Congress in 1925 to fill the vacancy that resulted from the death of his father, Senator Robert M. (“Fighting Bob”) La Follette, Sr. “Young Bob” La Follette, as he was known, served in the U.S. Senate for over two decades.

In 1946, he ran unsuccessfully for reelection against Joseph McCarthy. He lost the 1946 election by about 5,000 votes.

News of a Captured Son

This first word to reach Hilda Hill of her son Armie’s capture was a record of a broadcast by short wave radio from Berlin on March 24, 1943. Note that Armie’s name is given incorrectly as “Arnold” and “Arnie.”

The following postcard, sent from Camp 98 on Sicily, is dated March 31, 1943. The mimeographed form that accompanied the card was from Colonel Howard F. Bresee of the Prisoner of War Information Bureau in Washington, D.C.

This later correspondence from Colonel Bresee does not give a great deal of information, but it must have been a reassurance all the same.