John Jarrett and siblings; John is on the right, with the crossover straps
Just last month, I posted an unusual story of a South African family who is seeking information about their Italian grandfather, who was a POW working at a local farm when he met their grandmother, Katarina Koopman. See “Searching for Italian POW Guerrino Bari.”
I was surprised to hear so soon afterward from Nicola Jarrett, who is also trying to learn about an Italian grandfather who was a POW during the war.
“My dad is the son of an Italian POW,” Nicola wrote. “It wasn’t until recently I realised that some POWs moved through camps. The camp where my grandma met the man in question was Normanhurst Court Camp 145, in East Sussex, UK. It was a mixed camp of Germans and Italians.
“As far as we know, he was either working on a farm in Robertsbridge, East Sussex, called Walter’s Farm Poppinghole Lane, or one close by. My aunt, now passed, could remember my grandma waiting in a field [for him] at the end of the lane.
Left—Guerrino Bari’s son Thomas Fortuin at age nine or ten. Sandra says, “This is the only photo that we have from his childhood.” Right—Thomas on his wedding day.
Earlier this spring, Sandra Hoffman asked me for help in locating her grandfather’s family in Italy.
“We are from Franschhoek in South Africa,” Sandra wrote. “My grandfather (my father’s father) was/is Guerrino Bari. He was a Prisoner of War in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
“We know for a fact that he left the country after the war, and my grandmother had no communication with him after that. We are hoping for an image of our grandfather and maybe contact with surviving family members.”
I asked Sandra for more detail.
She continued, “I am a South African citizen, as was my grandmother. Guerrino Bari was one of the big group of prisoners that was sent to South Africa during WW2. He was sent to the town of Stellenbosch to work on a farm. It is in the Wine Country, and the Italian POWs used their knowledge and skills to build cellars and houses on the farms.
“My grandmother lived/worked on the Koopmanskloof farm.
“My father never knew his father. Grandma said that my grandfather took a photograph of his son before the group of Italian POWs were sent back to Italy. Grandma put my father up for adoption, and the new family changed his name and surname. We will never know if his father enquired or searched for him, due to the adoption.