Category Archives: Peter Grillo

Peter Grillo—A Mystery Solved

Peter Grillo with grandson Christopher Longo

Ten years ago, in August 2013, I wrote a post on this site, “Peter Grillo—Surgery ‘Sans Anesthetic,’” concerning a harrowing operation P.G. 59 prisoner Peter Grillo had for appendicitis. At the time, Peter’s son Roy and I knew that after Peter had been interned in P.G. 59, he eventually ended up in Stalag 2B Hammerstein, from which he was liberated at the end of the war. (See “Liberated Comrades-in-Arms.”)

What we weren’t sure of until recently was his actual dates of internment and where Peter’s surgery had been performed. We weren’t even sure whether the operation was in Italy or Germany.

I discovered the missing details recently through accessing Peter’s Italian POW card on the U.S. National Archives (NARA) website. (These identity cards were created and maintained by the Italian Ministry of War during the war as a way for the Italians to maintain records on the prisoners—and to meet basic requirements of the 1929 Geneva Convention.)

From Peter’s card I learned that after P.G. 59, he was held in three additional locations in Italy.

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Liberated Comrades-in-Arms


Peter Grillo’s son Roy believes this photograph of 26 cheerful servicemen was taken shortly after their liberation from German captors on March 25, 1945. Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Roy writes, “I had been looking for this for a while, but now I am trying to recollect where it was taken. If memory serves me correctly this is the group of POW’s in my dad’s building that were taken to the Army Medical Hospital for recuperation after getting free from the compound. I hope others might find themselves in this image.

“My father is bottom center with moustache and big smile.”

After his capture at Kasserine Pass, Peter Grillo was held on Sicily and then in Camp 59. The U.S. National Archives WW II POW database indicates he was repatriated from Stalag 2B Hammerstein. I assume the other men in the photo were also freed from Stalag 2B.


Peter Grillo

See also and “Peter Grillo—Surgery ‘Sans Anesthetic’” and “Peter Grillo—Captive.”

Peter Grillo—Surgery “Sans Anesthetic”


This article is from Peter Grillo’s son Roy.

He explained, “Digging through lots of papers, I found another item which is very interesting. This is the story my dad used to tell me as I grew up and was asking questions.”

We know that Peter was interned at Camp 59 in Servigliano through a letter from the War Department to Peter’s wife dated July 24, 1943 (See “Peter Grillo—Captive“).

The article suggests the surgery was done in an Italian POW camp. However, there only two British medical officers in the camp at that time, no German doctors. Perhaps at one point Peter was interned in another camp or hospital in Italy where the surgery was performed by the German doctor.

It seems even more likely the surgery was actually done after his transfer to Germany. According to the U.S. National Archives, Peter was last interned in Stalag 2B Hammerstein in Germany.

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Peter Grillo—Captive


I received a note this morning from Roy Grillo, who, in conducting online research about his father, Peter Grillo, discovered his name on Clifford Houben’s Address List of POWs.

Peter’s name and address are also recorded in Charles Simmons’ address book.

Peter passed away in 2002.

Roy shared a letter with me that was sent by the U.S. War Department to his mother, Virginia E. Grillo, during Peter’s captivity.

Here is the text of that letter:


24 July 1943

Mrs. Peter Grillo,
Leomnister Road,
Lunenburg, Massachusetts.

Dear Mrs. Grillo:

The Provost Marshall General directs me to reply to your letter of July 20, 1943, regarding your husband, Private Peter Grillo.

The records in this office indicate that your husband is still interned at Camp 59, Military Post 3300, Italy. It is located in the vicinity of Ascol-Piceno [Ascoli Piceno] near the east coast in central Italy.

No further information has been received concerning your husband since our letter of July 15, 1943.

Sincerely yours,

Howard F. Bresee
Colonel, C.M.P.,
Bhief, Information Bureau.

“I remember my dad told me once that he and some of the other men ate rat and dog because of very small meals that were made available to them,” Roy said.

“I think the greatest gift my father left me was his talk about death and fear just before I left for Vietnam. It had a profound impact on me when our convoy came under attack (ambush), and it was his words that got me through those tough times.”


“This photo is one my dad liked,” Roy said. “That is me, age 19, leaning on the machine gun and a very good friend, Neil Naffzinger, who drove this truck.”