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.
Eno is second from the right in this picture...
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.
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.
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.