Category Archives: Prisoners—Other Camps

More on Jack Bishop

Jack Bishop holding his memoirs, In Pursuit of Freedom

This week Anne Copley, who has been researching former POW Jack Bishop, visited Reading University, where the archive of the publishers Leo Cooper is held. The Cooper archive contains a file on the publication of Jack’s book In Pursuit of Freedom, including attendant publicity. The book was published in 1977.

Anne kindly shared several images of Jack for this post. “Jack was born 1910 in Bristol and enlisted in the Royal Navy when he was only 16,” she explained. “When he returned from a German prison camp he was demobbed, and for the rest of his working life he worked in the Granaries of the Bristol Port Authority.”

See also “More on the Escaped Prisoners at Fontanaluccia.”

Caption: Seaman Gunner Jack Bishop, who joined the Royal Navy in Bristol in 1927 aged 16, pictured with a friend Jan Pearce while serving with the submarine Perseus in Hong Kong in 1938.
Caption: This picture of Jack Bishop was taken by the Red Cross shortly before his abortive escape attempt from the castle Rezzanello. Jack sent it to his wife Irene and twin daughters who had moved out of Bristol to escape the bombing and were living with relatives in Camerton, near Bath.
Leo Cooper’s publicity photo of Jack Bishop

More on the Escaped Prisoners at Fontanaluccia

In Pursuit of Freedom, published by Corgi Books

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.

Shooting through—Stories of Campo 106 Escapees

cover of Shooting Through, by Katrina Kittel

Katrina Kittel’s book on the Campo 106 POWs’ escape stories

Shooting through: Campo 106 escaped POWs after the Italian Armistice, a remarkable book by Australian historian Katrina Kittel, was published late last year. I have been remiss in not obtaining a copy and giving it a mention here until now. It’s a first-class piece of scholarship and a thoroughly enjoyable read.

Published by Echo Books, Shooting through is Katrina’s first book. It is available from a number of online sellers internationally, including Amazon.

Katrina Kittel lives in Port Stephens, New South Wales, Australia.

Since 2011, she has researched the wider cohort of some 2,000 Australian POWs in Italy during the war, while giving a refined focus to about 50 Australians who escaped from Vercelli camps on the Piedmont region of Northern Italy.

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Wartime Wanderings, 1939–1945

Loftus Peyton Jones during the war

James Peyton Jones wrote to me last month about a recently published memoir of his father’s military service during the Second World War. First Lieutenant Loftus Peyton Jones was captured at sea and for a time was a prisoner of war.

“He was a POW in Italy, first at Camp 35 in Padula and then at No. 19 in Bologna,” James explained. It was from P.G. 19 that he escaped in September 1943.

“My father wrote this memoir primarily for family members in 1993. After he died in 2000, we received a number of requests for a copy from other friends and people he had known, and thought it might have more general interest and value as a way of honoring those of his generation (both in the services and the Italians who helped them during their escapes). We didn’t have the original files, so I re-created them and added some additional photos and copies of documents I found in my father’s archive in an appendix.”

James published the newly-edited memoir this spring.

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Escaped Prisoners and Airman at Fontanaluccia

A page from the register of the Partisan Hospital of Santa Lucia

I received valuable information from Italian researcher Michele Becchi several days ago.

He wrote, “I’m sending to you a page from the register of the Partisan Hospital of Santa Lucia, in the village of Fontanaluccia, not far from Montefiorino (the partisan republic).

“There are names of British ex-POWs that may be interest you.

“In the register are also some names of Allied pilots, Russians, and Germans.”

“The word ‘ospizio’ means hospital but also nursing home. Don Mario Prandi, the parish priest of Fontanaluccia, opened it in the ’30s and during the war, with the help of some antifascist doctors, it became one of the four or five partisan health centers of the mountains open to partisans, prisoners, civilians, and anyone needing help. The acronym ‘S. Lucia V.M.’ is a religious abbreviation for ‘Santa Lucia, Virgin and Martyr.’”

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Charlie Standing—Escapee from Camp 82


Charlie’s brother Fred Standing (left) and Charlie in the doorway of their family’s home at 54 Lincoln Street, Brighton.

This month I received a note from Simon Hasler of Brighton, UK, addressed to Gillian Pink.

Gill’s father, Tom Ager, was a prisoner-of-war in Italian camp P.G. 82. Tom’s story is recounted on this site in several posts (read “Thomas Ager—Escapee from Italian Camp 82,” “On the Sheltering of Tom Ager,” “Unexpected Letter—News of Tom Ager,” and “Greetings Sent Via the Vatican.”)

Simon wrote, “your post really resonates with our family. My wife’s granddad was in the same POW camp as your father and left at the same time. His name was Charlie Standing. He was a private from Brighton, but in the Hampshire regiment.

“His story is almost identical, other than he stayed uncaptured.

“He lived in caves and was helped by locals near Viterbo. He even learnt Italian whilst on the run and mingled with locals whilst German soldiers were around.

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Coenraad Stoltz—Escapee from Camp 52


Coenraad Willem Frederik Stoltz

As mentioned in the previous post, I heard from Conradt Stoltz, Coenraad’s grandson, earlier this month. (Read “Coenraad Stoltz—the ‘War-Box.’”)

Concerning the photo above, Conradt wrote, “This is photo the oldest photo I have of grandfather. It was taken around 1963 when he was in his late 40’s.”

Here is a short history of Coenraad Stoltz’s military service that Conradt sent me:

Pte. Coenraad Willem Frederik Stoltz
Private, 1st Regiment Botha, South African Army
Force Number 40011

27 February 1941: On strength – 1st Regiment Botha, Alfa Company (Basic Training)

9 October 1941: Embark HMS Mauritania in convoy with HMAS Australia

21 October 1941: Disembark Suez, Egypt, North Africa

26 October 1941: On strength – Mersa Matruth, Egypt / 2nd Regiment Botha, Charlie Company

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Coenraad Stoltz—the “War-Box”


Letters dating back to the war are arranged on Coenraad Stoltz’s open “war-box”

Earlier this month, Frank Vaccarezza and I received a note from Conradt Stoltz, who lives in South Africa, concerning the March 2015 post on this site entitled “Vaccarezza Family—P.G. 52 Escapees Protected.”

Conradt wrote, “Regarding the escapees sheltered in your family’s barn, it seems quite possible that it could have been my grandfather Coenraad Stoltz and two of his compatriots‎, Migiel van der Schyff and Hennie de Bruyn.

“I have not been able to track down any of the two’s family or war records, as I do not have their service numbers. However, I have attached some photographs.

“Hope you can add something more, ‎as it would seem I have reached a dead end.

“It would be really amazing if it is verified these three South Africans were indeed amongst those sheltered by the Vaccarezza family between September 1943 and April 1944.”

Conradt sent several photos.

He continued, “The photographs are from my grandfathers ‘war-box,’ as we call it. There are several letters dated between February and August 1941 written by my grandfather to my grandmother.

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Interview with Gino Antognozzi


Gino Antognozzi at age 24, July 27, 1950


The transcript of an interview with Gino Antognozzi that makes up this post is courtesy of Gino’s nephew Alfredo. The interview comes to me by way of Anne Copley, who translated the transcript from Italian into English.

Last summer Anne located the family of Sydney Harold Swingler, known to Gino’s family only as “Antonio” when they sheltered him during the war, and put the two families in contact with each other.

See “Swingler and Antognozzi Familes United.”

Gino Antognozzi lives with his wife Annunziata in Montelparo, a small town about 30 km. from the city of Fermo. He is 89 years old today.

Last summer, on being shown a photograph of Sydney Swingler, Gino immediately recognized him, saying: “It’s him, it’s Antonio.”

“Why Antonio didn’t write a letter, a postcard?” he asked. “I thought he had been killed in war, and he could not go back to England.”

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Swingler and Antognozzi Families United


This news article from the London area Ham&High newspaper is provided by Anne Copley. It’s the touching story of a contact made between the family of POW Sydney Swingler, known to the Italians as “Antonio,” and his Italians protectors, the Antognozzi family.

Family trace Italians who sheltered their father from fascists
Brave peasants risked their lives to help soldier Sydney

By Tom Marshall
Ham&High, London, UK

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The familes of a Second World War soldier from Kentish Town and the Italian peasants who risked their lives to save him have been united after 70 years.

The children of Sydney Swingler have made contact with the Antognozzi family, who protected their father for several months during the war, after an amateur historian and the Ham&High helped bring them together.

Sydney was among the thousands of fighters who fled prisoner-of-war camps after Italy signed an armistice with the Allies in September 1943, then took refuge with Italian peasants as the countryside remained in turmoil.


He was sheltered by the Antognozzi family in the Italian village of Montelparo, where they still live, before eventually making it back across Allied lines and returning to his Kentish Town home.

Sydney’s son Colin Swingler, 64, one of four siblings born at the former family home in Highgate Road after the war, said he was delighted to make contact with the Antognozzi family, who had risked their lives to look after his father.

He said: “If the Germans or Italian fascists had found dad, they could have been killed along with him.

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