First Italian Shipyard Technical Battalion

Discussion in 'Burma & India' started by Silvia Giannelli, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. Silvia Giannelli

    Silvia Giannelli New Member

    I am looking for informations about the Ist Italian Shipyard Technical Battalion, formed by Italian cooperating soldiers in India during WW2.
    My father, Guglielmo Giannelli, was an Italian POW in India and, since he belonged to the Italian Army Corps of Engineers, joined it in Bombay from April 1945 to January 1946. As far as I know, they were working on the development of radar.
    Could you help in my research?
    Thanks a lot
    Silvia Giannelli
     
  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Well-Known Member

    That is a real puzzle as Google yields nothing. various combinations using Ist Italian Shipyard Technical Battalion fail; could the unit have retained its Italian name? After the Armistice agreement and Italy becoming a co-belligerent it would make sense to use a Royal Italian Army name.

    Even allowing for Italy becoming an ally, it seems odd that 'they were working on the development of radar.'
     
  3. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    I think the man to go to on this is Bob Moore who has published a number of academic works on the subject of Italian POWs including The British Empire and its Italian Prisoners of War, 1940–1947 and Enforced Diaspora: The Fate of Italian Prisoners of War during the Second World War. He was (and might still be) at Sheffield University - certainly a place to start.
    It was mainly officers and NCOs who were sent to India
     
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  4. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Well-Known Member

  5. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Italy was not an ally - she was a co-belligerent. The final peace treaty with Italy was not signed until 1947 - the delay was due to Stalin's shenanigans. As a result Italians taken POW before the armistice remained POWs. After the armistice Britain divided its Italian POWs into co-operating and non co-operating. The former undertook an agreement which allowed them to live in hostels etc rather than POW camps and subject to certain restrictions travel freely etc. Co-operating POWs were not subject to the Hague Convention restrictions and could (and did) work on military production and development.
     
  6. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The following documents are held in the old India Office records
    IOR/L/MIL/5/1069 Italian POWs surnames A - I
    IOR/L/MIL/5/1070 Italian POWs surnames J - Z

    IOR/L/PJ/8/35 Internees: release and repatriation of Italian and other foreign internees in India 1943-1948

    From these it should be possible to determine which camp or camps your man was in and his release date. The India Office records are held by the British Library
     
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  7. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    The first Radar installations arrived in Bombay in April 1942. However it did not function well in the Indian climate and from 1943 onwards the RIMU (Radio Installation Maintenance Unit) at Bombay based tat he north end of Bombay Island) began the development of Radar sets suitable for operation in humid tropical conditions. AFAIK this was the only radar development carried out in Bombay.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
  8. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

  9. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    There were 66,732 Italian POWs in India - of these 11,029 were officers. This compares with 76,855 in the UK of which only 364 were officers (mainly padres and medics)
     
  10. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    In February and March 1945 Dr Otto Wenger of the International Red Cross inspected a series of Italian POW units in India. These included road building companies, a company of Italian chefs and even an orchestra. Listed in his telegraphic report to Geneva is the Shipyard Technical Battalion no. 1. He reports that they are in good condition and have ready access to sports and other recreational facilities. I imagine that the telegraphic report would be followed up with a longer written document which should be on file somewhere in Geneva

    Delegation aux Indes britanniques. — Le Dr Otto Wenger a fait parvenir au Comite international un tel6gramme resumant les visites qu'il fit du 26 fevrier au 20 mars aux detachements suivants, dont l'effectif varie, d'apres leur importance, entre quelques dizaines et quelques centaines de prisonniers de guerre italiens ; ces detachements sont situes a Bangalore, Avadi, Secunderabad, Trimulgherry, Poona, Kirkee, Murart, Bombay et Deolali: Ce sont: L'« Italian Workshop Company n° 2 ». — L'« Italian Workshop Company n° 3 ». — Quatre detachements de l'« Italian Workshop Company n° 4». — Plusieurs detachements de l'« Italian Hospital Battalion n° 1». — Le d£tachement de travail n° 19, qui se compose d'un orchestre d'une trentaine de musiciens actuellement en tourn6e dans les camps de prisonniers de guerre. — Le detachement de travail n° 20. — Le detachement de travail n° 28. — Le detachement de travail n° 32. — Le detachement de Murart. — Un d£tachement de 25 cuisiniers auxiliaires. — La compagnie de transport italienne n° 21. — La compagnie de transport italienne n° 22. — L'« Italian Line Construction Company n° 1». — La boulangerie italienne de campagne. — Un hopital militaire britannique, qui abritait trente prisonniers venant des divers detachements visites. — Le cimetiere pour prisonniers de guerre du groupe n° 3, qui contient une centaine de tombes. — Les « Military Detention Barracks » de Trimulgherry. — L'« Italian Shipyard Technical Battalion n° 1». — L'« orchestre du due d'Aoste », compose d'une cinquantaine de musiciens, est actuellement en tourn^e. Les conditions g6nerales de ces detachements et batiments sont bonnes; les prisonniers ont exprime le desir de recevoir des livres et des articles de sport, lesquels leur furent fournis par le secretaire de l'Y.M.C.A. peu apres la visite du del6gue du Comite international.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2020
  11. Silvia Giannelli

    Silvia Giannelli New Member

    I am very grateful for all this information! Actually, I have already got documents from India Office records at the British Library, and I have discovered about this Battalion from the minute of the interrogation to which all POWs were submitted back in Italy, where it is so named, thus I don't think it had an Italian name and it definetely belonged to the British Army - the Italian army had collapsed those years.
    As far as I have read from POW testimonies, the co-operating POWs were kept in camps, but with less restrictions, and only very few of them were embedded in the British Army, mainly for side activities. Thus I think it was the First and only Italian Battalion.
    Special thanks for the indication of professor Robert Moore, in Italian there are very few documents about Italian POWs in WW2, moreover I am eager to read about Italian POWs from the other side!
     
  12. Silvia Giannelli

    Silvia Giannelli New Member

    Very interesting also the Red Cross report...so many Italian detachements....
     
  13. Silvia Giannelli

    Silvia Giannelli New Member

    Excuse, what does it mean: padres? I cannot find any translation
     
  14. Robert-w

    Robert-w Well-Known Member

    Military chaplains (priests in uniform)
     
  15. Maureene

    Maureene Well-Known Member

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