Category Archives: Rome Escape Line

Memorial to Rome Escape Line’s Sam Derry

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Recently my friend Brian Sims sent me an article that was published last year in the Newark Advertiser, which serves the UK’s Newark-on-Trent area.

The article describes a local interest in the establishment of a lasting memorial to Newark-born Lieutenant-Colonel Sam Derry, who, with Irish priest Hugh O’Flaherty, ran the escaped-POW rescue effort known as the Rome Escape Line out of the Vatican.

The Rome Escape Line rescue efforts were run independently of the I.S.9 rescue efforts, which were mainly conducted along the Adriatic coastline of Italy and east of the Apeninnine Mountains.

The following paragraph from the official I.S.9 history (see “I.S.9 History—Operations in Italy, Part 3“) in the British National Archives, confirms the minimal contact that existed between these two organizations:

“By far the most interesting outcome of our entry into ROME was gaining contact with the Escape Organization which had existed during the German occupation under the direction of Major S.I. DERRY (now Lt-Col. S.I. DERRY, DSO, MC, GS01, G-2 (P/W), AFHQ). This particular organization was easily the largest non-I.S.9 unit engaged in the care and maintenance and possible escape of E & Es. Although we were well aware of the existence of this organization, and had made successful attempts to gain contact during the German occupation, it was unfortunate that we were unable to encourage a closer connection in the early days. We sent an Italian officer courier into ROME and he returned with a reasonably accurate description of the situation, and had personally contacted Father O’FLAHERTY of the Vatican. We sent him back almost immediately, in an attempt to connect ourselves more closely with Major DERRY. Unfortunately, our courier was unable to obtain an interview with Major DERRY and was very naturally treated with suspicion. It was not until the final entry into the city and our contact with Major DERRY that we both realised the pity in that real contact was not established between I.S.9 and the Rome Escape Organization during the German occupation.”

Although the Newark Advertiser article mentions various possibilities for the memorial, Brian more recently told me the actual memorial will be a large painted portrait of Sam Derry, to be hung in the Newark Town Hall.

A dedication ceremony is being planned for this fall.

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