Category Archives: Charles Simmons

Charles Simmons’ Recovered Bowling Ring

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I received a note early this month from Katy Bochetto, who wrote, “My grandfather was Charles K. Simmons.

“My Aunt, Trish Harper, submitted copies of the address book and calendar he kept while a POW.” See “Charles Simmons’ Calendar and Address Book” and “Charles Simmons’ 1943 Calendar.”

Katy’s mother, Margaret Simmons, was Charles’ oldest daughter.

In her note, Katy told me about Charles’ gold “300 game” bowling ring that was confiscated by Italians after his capture, but was later surprisingly returned to Charles.

In a follow-up email I received today, Katy said, “The family was together for Christmas and more information was found about my grandfather—specifically the story I was telling you about his bowling ring!”

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Simmons’ Address Book—the Americans

Sixty-six American servicemen wrote their names and addresses into Charles Simmons’ 1943 calendar and address book.

Using the on-line U.S. National Archives database of WW II POWs, I found matches for all but three names.

There are two possibilities for Sgt. Ira Powers. It seems to me he is most likely Sgt. Oria Powers in the database.

Within the list below, scans accompany the names and addresses of the three unconfirmed men. When I had difficult interpreting the letters in some names, I guessed until I struck gold or exhausted the possibilities.

Of the 66 Americans, 30 are said to have been “returned to military control, liberated or repatriated” from German-controlled camps north of Italy. Apparently these soldiers had been recaptured after the breakout from Camp 59.

Thirteen Americans are identified as have been recovered from CC 59 Ascoli Picenzo Italy 43-13, which means they were last interned at Camp 59.

For 20 Americans no camp was listed. We know they were held in Camp 59, of course, but whether they were recaptured after the escape is unknown.

Here is the list of Simmons’ 66 comrades:

Erich W. Sobor
104 Bridge Street
Scalp Level, Pennsylvania

(U.S. National Archives on-line POW database indicates Pvt. First Class Erich W. Sobor, Army Infantry, of Pennsylvania, was returned to military control, liberated or repatriate, but no camp was indicated.)

Vic Bianucci
210 West Boyd Avenue
Butler, Pennsylvania

(U.S. National Archives on-line POW database indicates Pvt. Victor L. Bianucci, Army infantry, Pennsylvania, was returned to military control, liberated or repatriated from Stalag 2B Hammerstein (99 work camps in vicinity of Koslin & Stolp) West Prussia 53-17.)

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Charles Simmons’ 1943 Calendar

Turn back the calendar pages for a moment to 1943, when Camp 59 prisoner Charles Simmons marked off each day of the year with an X while waiting for war’s end and liberation.

The calendar was a papal-issued calendar/notebook that Charles received before his transfer to Camp 66 Capua and then to Camp 59 Ascoli Picenzo (in Servigliano).

Seven of the 12 months have notes written beside them.

These notes are:

February 9—START TRIP TO CAMP 66 CA_____ [page is torn so the last word is not legible]
February 15—ARRIVE IN CAPURA CAMP 66 [Camp 66 is in Capua, Italy]
February 28—START TRIP FOR NEW CAMP

March 1—ARRIVE IN NEW HOME CAMP 59

May 9—TUNIS TAKEN BY ALLIES
May 17—209 AMERICANS ARRIVE AT CAMP P.G. 59. NO ONE FROM OUR CO.
May 18—RUMOR THAT THE CONTINENT HAS BEEN INVADED.

July 11—Invasion of Sicily

August 18—Fall of Sicily

September 8—Fall of Italy we received the news on the 9th.
September 14—EVACUATED CAMP 59 WENT TO THE MOUNTAINS TO HIDE OUT.

November 10—MY THREE YEAR ENLISTMENT IS UP. (OH! HAPPY DAY.)

I PREDICT THE WAR WILL BE OVER NOV. 16TH 1943.
SGT. SIMMONS
MAR. 16TH 1943.

These simple notes are evidence that the prisoners were continually receiving news and rumors concerning the progress of the war.

Armie Hill was one of the 209 prisoners who arrived at Camp 59 on May 17.

Sadly, Charles Simmons’ prediction of war’s end on November 16, 1943 was far from accurate!

Simmon’s Address Book—the English and Scots

Charles Simmons’ calendar and address book contains the names and addresses of four servicemen from England and two from Scotland.

They are:

Charles C. Stalling
55 Sheaf Gardens
Sheffield 2
England

T. Strapp
9 Amies Street
Battersea, S.W. London
England

Arthur Freestone
96 Forest Road
Lower Edmonton, London N9
England

G. H. Bird
7 Leicester Street
Northwich, Cheshire
England

Ronald Gordon
9 Tannadice Street
Dundee, Angus
Scotland

C. Bruce
142 Montrose Street
Brechin, Angus
Scotland

Simmons’ Address Book—the Italians

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Charles Simmons’ calendar and address book contains the names and addresses of six Italian families. They presumably provided assistance to Simmons after his escape from Camp 59.

The names are:

Il Signor: Maroni (or Moroni) Nazzareno
M San Martino
____ Molino Prov Macerata

Molino is a small place near to Monte San Martino, and the word before it could be “frazione” which means “fraction,” a denotation that it is a part of the commune of Monte San Martino.

Cesaroni-Arnolfo
Comunanza (Ascoli Piceno)
Italia Marche
(Note that the Italians always put the surname before the first name. So the name in this case if Arnolfo Cesaroni.)

Dema Paopranelli
Comunanza P. Ascoli

Giacomozzi Pasquale
S. Martino al Faggio
(Ascoli Piceno)

If “al Faggio” is the correct place name here (the handwriting is difficult to decipher), there is a San Martino al Faggio in the right area. It’s a frazione of Smerillo—on the hill facing Monte San Martino.

Cesoroni Iolanda
Comunanza
Italia Marche
Provincia di Ascoli Piceno

Iva Perticara
Monte San Martino
P. Macerata-Italia

The P stands for Provincia. There were four provinces at the time in Marche. From north to south: Pesaro; Ancona; Macerata; Ascoli Piceno. (Another, Fermo, has been added recently.)

So these places are all on either side of the county borders of Macerata and Ascoli Piceno.

Many thanks to Anne Copley of Oxford, UK, for her help in reading and interpreting these addresses!

Charles Simmons’ Calendar and Address Book

Earlier this year, I received from Trish Harper photocopies of a calendar booket her father was given when he was interned at Camp 59. Charles Kenneth Simmons used the printed calendar pages to mark off the days as they passed, and he used blank spaces to record notes about activities in the camp and rumors of war that reached the prisoners.

Simmons used the pages marked for “MEMORANDUM” to list names and addresses of fellow servicemen.

Altogether he recorded addresses of:

61 American servicemen
Four English servicemen
Two Scottish servicemen
One Australian serviceman
Six Italian families

I will post all of the addresses on this site as I transcribe them and confirm their accuracy as best I can (the handwriting is not always clear).

Interestingly, the summer 2008 online newsletter of the UK National Ex-Prisoner of War Association contains an article about two prisoners (Maurice Newey and David John Jenkins) from Italian Camp 54 at Fara in Sabrina who had been given copies of the same calendar book.

According to the newsletter, the calendar, entitled “Christmas 1942,” was a gift of Pope Pius XII. The booklet is composed of 48 pages plus a cardboard cover. Pages 26-48 contain hymns and Christmas carols. The booklet also contains quotations of papal encouragement and a prayer by Cardinal John Henry Newman (“Lead, kindly Light, amid the encircling gloom”).