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An Italian Soldier

Article about: I really didn't know where to post this, but perhaps one of the forum Moderator's will place it in a more suitable location. I'm writing this in the hope that someone out there would be able

  1. #1

    Default An Italian Soldier

    I really didn't know where to post this, but perhaps one of the forum Moderator's will place it in a more suitable location. I'm writing this in the hope that someone out there would be able to offer me guidance on the best people to contact for help in seeking medals which were awarded - but never collected, to an Italian soldier during WW11.

    My wife Pam was brought up in Cadishead near Manchester, and just a few miles away in the village of Glazebrook (Hollins Green) lived her Aunt Bertha and Uncle Matt. Bertha & Matt were very good friends of an Italian family who lived in Chapel Lane a short distance away from the village. Every weekend, Pam would go to visit her Aunt Bertha, and she would invariably end up at the cottage of Eno and Liberate DeSanctis where she would play with their two young boys, David and Anthony.

    I first met Eno DeSanctis in 1972 when I was a serving soldier, and I went down to meet his family with my then girlfriend Pam. As soldiers and former soldiers have always done when they meet up, talk turned around to combat experiences. Eno served with a mortar platoon in the desert during WW2. He told me that he was a reluctant soldier and once saved the life of his commanding officer whilst under fire, and on another occasion he saved the life of an ordinary soldier. For these acts he was awarded a gallantry medal - although he was never able to collect it.

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ID:	910649 Eno is second from the right in this picture...


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    Eno was eventually captured and shipped back to England as a P.O.W. Despite being searched, he was still able to hide about his body these photographs.

    Upon reaching England he was sent to a P.O.W camp in Lancashire and put to work on Austin's farm at Glazebrook. He spent the remainder of the war there and built up a very strong bond with the owner of the farm - Bill Austin. Such was the strength of their friendship that at the wars end, Bill asked Eno to stay on at the farm and work for him. The following pictures are of Eno as a P.O.W on the farm. The last picture shows Bill Austin with Eno and some of the other prisoners.

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    Eno returned to Italy after the war, married his girlfriend Liberate, and then moved back to England where they set up home in a cottage supplied to them by Bill Austin. In the 1980's Eno passed away, and then in the 1990's Liberate also died. My wife Pam and I, have always kept in touch with Dave and his wife Louise, and we are god-parents to their son Ben. They have been very good friends for many years. About 18 months ago Dave started having problems at work, he couldn't cope with his job any longer and was in tears when he got home.

    I first noticed something was wrong when he and Louise attended our 40th wedding anniversary party in April 2014. You would talk to him, and he wouldn't be able to follow the thread of the conversation. Early this year he was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, he is only 57. Already he can no longer tell the time, and he has no understanding of money. But if you were in his company you wouldn't realise there was anything wrong with him. A bit forgetful perhaps, but nothing else. Not long ago, he started talking about his father a lot and he seems very troubled by not having his father's medals to give to his son. This is one of the common traits of dementia sufferers, they become obsessed by something which is troubling them.

    His son is going over to Italy soon to see his Great Uncle Pepe - who will be celebrating his 100th birthday. Pepe served with the Alpine troops during the war. This is the only wartime picture which Dave has of him.

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    Dave and Louise were around at our house the other day, and he was telling me that he would have loved to have gone to visit his Uncle, but he is now terrified of the flight. Louise explained that he is only at ease with people he knows and surroundings which he recognises. It isn't known how much longer he will be as he is, but I would love to be able to present him with his father's medals. Does anyone on the forum know of the correct authorities in Italy to contact to see if they could help?

    Dave supplied me with all his father's photographs, and he and his wife gave me permission to use them for this posting. I would ask of forum members to respect the fact these images are personal, and are not to be copied and used elsewhere. Thanks in anticipation of any help which may be offered.

    Cheers,
    Steve.
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  2. #2
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    I hope you succeed in your task Alzheimer's is such a horrible illness

  3. #3

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    I wish you every success regarding this matter mate!...
    It's a wasted trip baby. Nobody said nothing about locking horns with no Tigers.



    I'm Spartacus, not really i'm Paul!...

  4. #4

    Default

    Hi Steve; I'm sorry, but I feel that your task will be very difficult, if not near impossible. There are some Italian bureau's that could provide some information about a former soldier, but they will only deal with relatives, or with persons officially authorized by parents (I guess lot of documents, obviously in Italian).
    Could I suggest you to buy the medals Eno was awarded with? It will be much more easy.

  5. #5

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    Quote by ziomanno View Post
    Hi Steve; I'm sorry, but I feel that your task will be very difficult, if not near impossible. There are some Italian bureau's that could provide some information about a former soldier, but they will only deal with relatives, or with persons officially authorized by parents (I guess lot of documents, obviously in Italian).
    Could I suggest you to buy the medals Eno was awarded with? It will be much more easy.
    I actually thought of just purchasing the medal(s)... I don't know what he would have been entitled to. I fully expected that no-one in authority would deal with me - with being outside the family. But if I could get some pointers on where to look, I could pass the information on to Dave's wife or his son to do the actual contacting.

    Cheers,
    Steve.
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  6. #6

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    Hi Steve,
    I agree with ziomanno, it's the right way, to follow the bureaucratic channels is practically impossible.

    cheers

  7. #7

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    Quote by OldSteel View Post
    Hi Steve,
    I agree with ziomanno, it's the right way, to follow the bureaucratic channels is practically impossible.

    cheers
    Would you have any idea what his medal entitlement would be for that brief period in the war? And what would the most likely bravery award be?

    Cheers,
    Steve.
    Author of... 'Belfast Diaries: A Gunner In Northern Ireland'... 'A Tough Nut To Crack: Andersonstown.. Voices From 9 Battery Royal Artillery In Northern Ireland'... 'An Accrington Pal: The Diaries of Pte Jack Smallshaw, September 1914 To March 1919'.

  8. #8

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    Quote by HARRY THE MOLE View Post
    Would you have any idea what his medal entitlement would be for that brief period in the war? And what would the most likely bravery award be?

    Cheers,
    Steve.
    For sure he has been awarded, by the Republic, with the "Croce al merito di guerra", as every soldier, sailor or airman who fought in WWII (also fascist or colonial troops were awarded with this cross).
    For gallantry or bravery acts there are gold, silver or bronze medals: I would exclude the gold, which is rare and often given "post mortem", and the silver one. The most probable is the "medaglia di bronzo al valor militare" (bronze medal), or the "croce al valor militare", also made in bronze.
    There are some pics. With the crosses it is simple, because don't bear the recipient's name, while the medals do.
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  9. #9

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    Sorry, I posted the wrong cross: this is the republican "croce al merito di guerra" (issued post war).
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  10. #10

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    Hi Steve,
    the reference might be this, but it's best to check and in any case I see it hard, better to buy them:


    MINISTERO DELLA DIFESA
    DIREZIONE GENERALE PER IL PERSONALE MILITARE
    III REPARTO 10 DIVISIONE RICOMPENSE O ONOREFICENZE
    VIALE DELL' ESERCITO, 186
    00143 ROMA Cecchignola

    with regards to decorations, I confirm what ziomanno says.

    cheers

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