Yesterday my friend and fellow researcher Anne Copley shared information related to a post I wrote in 2017. See “Escaped Prisoners and Airman at Fontanaluccia.”
“One of the names there is W. J. Bishop,” Anne wrote. “This is Jack Bishop who wrote a book, In Pursuit of Freedom, about his wartime experiences. (He was one of the first to end up on Italian soil as a PoW—captured when his submarine was rammed on 31 July 1940.)
“Jack has a whole chapter on the convent at Fontanaluccia (which clearly acted as a sort of hospital as well), and in particular a Sister Maria who gave him a rosary. He was with someone he only ever calls ‘The Corporal’, who must be the R. D. Smith who turned up on the same day in October. Jack talks about him having a bad leg. He was eventually betrayed and recaptured. I haven’t been able to trace him post-war.
“Jack was an OR (enlisted man) but, although he didn’t much fancy being someone’s servant, he volunteered to be a batman in an officers’ camp, knowing the conditions would be better. Thus he ended up in Fontanellato. He actually escaped on his own initiative a day or two before the mass breakout organised by the Camp Commandant and the Senior British Officer Hugo de Burgh.
“He met up with ‘The Corporal’ later, after those he had escaped with decided to stay on with an Italian family.”
Many thanks to Anne for sharing this new information.