Escape route from Fontenallato (PG49) near Parma, Italy.

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Charles Crosthwaite Eyre, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. My father, Captain John Crosthwaite Eyre RE and SOE, was captured in Tunisia on January 29th 1943, leading a group of saboteurs in a raid to destroy a bridge what was key to the resupply of Rommel. I believe this was Operation Felicity or Felice 1, but I can find no reference to this operation. He had earlier been on Operation Postmaster. He finished up, in June 1943 in Fontanellato and was released at the Armistice. He and two others (one being a major) were provided sanctuary by Mathilde Franchi Moruzzi and her husband, in the tiny hamlet (now abandoned) of Case Scapini, which is close to Cereseto and Bardi in the Apennines and he lived there for three months.

    I recently went to Case Scapini, to meet two of her granddaughters and a great granddaughter of Mathilde Franchi Moruzzi. We had a most fascinating time as so well described in the attached blogs Matilda: la donna che salvò nostro padre and John Crosthwaite Eyre, prigioniero inglese e Metirda (Matilde Franchi Moruzzi) – Case Scapini di Cereseto Compiano (Parma) – Centro Culturale “Compiano Arte Storia” – 28/09/2017. The local TV station also made the following news clip

    My father left the attached letter with Mathilde which she (must have) posted when the Allies arrived. In this letter, he refers to a “Major” who was with him. They were all recaptured on the Swiss Border. In “Home by Christmas”, the stories of escapees from Fontanellato by Ian English, there were only 7 Majors, who escaped and were recaptured. They were:
    1. G A F Archdale 40350 RA
    2. R F L Chance 49821 KRRC
    3. J Duthie 26752 RA
    4. H P Edwards 113927 KRRC
    5. D C G Seymour Evans 5807 7H
    6. H R Haig 58198 CAM H
    7. J Tennant 90822 RA
    I am looking for anyone who might know of or have links to the families of any of these Officers, as they may have more information on their experiences, how the cam to be looked after by Mathilde and also what their route to Switzerland was. I would also like to introduce them to Mathilde’s family

    Attached Files:

    Teresa Stokes and dbf like this.
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

  3. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    don't think so TD, one is about the Operation itself, the other about particular escapers/evaders
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  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Charles,

    If I were you I would look for Liberation reports for these majors you list. You will get address details from the Lib. reports which might help you to track down their families.There was another major, SC Merritt, General List, who was also recaptured and sent to O79. (Found in WO 392/21 POWs in Italy and 392/1 POWs in Germany, both files at the National Archives)

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  5. horsapassenger

    horsapassenger Senior Member


    There was an SPG Liberation Report (SPG LIB 1216 - National Archives - WO 208/3333) for your Father Captain J Crosswaite Eyre where his unit is shown as 6 Signal Unit, 1st Army. Sadly this is one of the many reports missing from this series and I have not been able to find a POW Liberation report for him as these appear to have been the catalyst for the subsequent SPG Liberation interviews.

    Attached Files:

  6. My apologies for any confusion and possible duplication, but TD is correct - I am in this, inquiring about my fathers escape route in Italy ! I am learning the ropes!
    I do not understand the apparent Royal Signals link as he was definitely a Royal Engineer. The spelling is slightly different, but maybe he was attached to the Signals at this point. In his Release Letter from the army (dated 16 May 1946), he is given Honorary Rank of Major and he is referenced as J Crosthwaite-Eyre, Royal Engineers.

    I have also got all my Father's PoW letters and I know he was also in OFLAG 79 to the end of the war. His last letter, dated 13/4/1945 says he was liberated the day before is from OFLAG 79.

    Vitellino - I will follow up your suggestion of looking into the Liberation reports and see where that leads.

    Many thanks all of you!
  7. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: J Crosthwaite Eyre
    Rank: Captain
    Army Number: 134990
    Regiment: Royal Engineers
    POW Number: 1927
    Camp Type: Oflag
    Camp Number: 79
    Camp Location: Brunswick, Lower Saxony

    I would guess that his regiment at enlistment was Royal Engineers, that would stay with him as his 'Official' Regiment

    You could perhaps add some information here to help out this site - Oflag 79 Querum, Brunswick in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

    There is another thread on the camp - Airborne POW Officers Oflag 79 footage


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