Category Archives: Sidney Seymour Smith

Raimondo Illuminati on Sidney Seymour Smith


Raimondo Illuminati at the site of the Sidney Seymour Smith memorial plaque.

Tenna Valley Freedom Trail Walk activities last month included the installation, on May 10, of a plaque in memory of British soldier Sidney Seymour Smith on the road outside the village of Montelparo where Sidney was shot to death. Sidney was known to the Italians as “Giorgio.”

See “Sidney Seymour Smith—A Mystery Solved” and “Sidney Seymour Smith—the Interviews.”

Just prior to the unveiling of the plaque, Raimondo Illuminati, who as a boy knew Sidney, spoke about his memory of him at the Montelparo town hall.

I am grateful to Anne Copley for her translation of the speech from Italian into English. Anne’s comments are in brackets.

Raimondo Illuminati’s Speech

“8th September 1943; church bells were ringing in all the villages, the Armistice had been declared between Badoglio’s Italy and the Anglo-American troops. In our district, at Servigliano, there was a concentration camp; the gates were opened and the prisoners were free. It seemed it was over, the war which had not touched us, which had taken place far from our peaceful lives. But it ended up in our houses, with the immediate occupation by the Germans, endorsed by the Salo Republic. The prisoners, once free, took refuge in our countryside, welcomed with love into our homes. And indeed our own soldiers were prisoners in their lands.

“One of these prisoners was called, or at least he gave himself the name GIORGIO. He was an English soldier. He took refuge in the contrada Santa Maria di Montelparo with the family “Ndunucciu” [Italian peasant families had a real name and then a nickname—it seems likely this was the nickname for the Mazzoni family], adjacent to the Tirabassi elementary school. I was seven years old and went to the primary class, I remember Giorgio because sometimes he came to our school when the master was away, and he read us books and stories. Giorgio was “a boy” [I’m not sure how to translate ragazzo, which literally means “boy” but here seems to have a deeper significance], about thirty-six years old, tall, slender, blond with blue eyes. He was always smiling and he was very dear to us, we always behaved well and kept quiet whilst he was reading to us. But one day the brutality of war took him away. One day in March he received a visit from three individuals—“friends” they called themselves, but they were two Germans and a local Fascist and they slaughtered him, unloading into him forty machine-gun bullets. This unhappy event happened north of the contrada Santa Maria and right next to the house of Paolo Traini (Cucurre). I passed that way the next morning and saw signs of his blood and fragments of his body on the edge of the road. He was accompanied to the cemetery by a large cortege, and by all us schoolboys to give him a final farewell.”

Sidney Seymour Smith—the Interviews


Sidney Smith left his memorandum, known as a “chit,” with the Mazzoni family. It was common for escapees to leave statements concerning help received with their protectors. A chit could later be presented to the Allies by the Italians as evidence when requesting compensation.

“To any British Officer:–

“This is to certify that Signalman Smith, Sidney Seymour, No. 2372205 stayed at this house (Mazzoni, Montelparo) from 2nd. November 1943 to 27th. February 1944 both dates inclusive less eight days and received the best of treatment.

“Signed. Sidney S. Smith
No. 2372205

At the bottom of the sheet, in another person’s handwriting, is this additional note:

“The above mentioned was at this house until the 21st March when he was killed by fascists.”

The last sentence is signed, but the signature is not readable.

The Interviews

The following interviews were conducted in 1945–46 by the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) of the Royal Military Police in the course of a thorough inquiry into the death of escaped POW Sidney Smith.

The interviews together create a vivid, disturbing picture of the soldier’s apprehension and murder on March 21, 1944. But the identities of the Germans and fascist collaborators who are responsible for Sidney’s death are never discovered.

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Sidney Seymour Smith—A Mystery Solved


This photograph from the file of inquiry into the death of Signalman Sidney Smith by the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) of the Royal Military Police shows the spot on a road outside the comune of Montelparo, Italy, where the soldier was killed.


This detail (from the above photograph) shows the wooden cross erected by local Italians in remembrance of Sidney Smith, the man they affectionately knew as “Giorgio.”

The killing of an escaped prisoner of war outside the village of Montelparo is a subject that has come up twice on this site recently. In “Tenna Valley Memorial Walks,” Anne Copley recounted how, two months ago, Freedom Trail walkers visited the spot outside Montelparo where a young British soldier, known to locals only as George—or “Giorgio” in Italian—had been shot by German soldiers.

And in “War Crimes—Sorting through the Accounts,” I questioned whether George Godfrey was the same soldier killed at Montelparo.

But now, thanks to help from British researcher Brian Sims, we have a clear answer to the identify of the soldier and a detailed account of the tragic end to the life of Sidney Smith.

Below is the official summary of an investigation by the Special Investigation Branch (SIB) of the Royal Military Police into the death of Scottish soldier Sidney Seymour Smith, Signalman, Royal Corps of Signals.

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