Lampedusa

Discussion in 'North Africa & the Med' started by Uncle Target, Sep 10, 2021.

  1. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I was given this information in confidence and do not intend to divulge my source.

    I originally wrote a lot more but have edited it to say that if /when I receive a reply from Lampedusa I will of course post it, otherwise I am going to bow out of this thread.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  2. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Ok. Thanks for that.

    I thought I was going a bit bonkers rereading this thread a hundred times, then other similar threads on the site, looking for mention of the tents. And finding nothing. If you got the info privately, my sanity can rest in peace.


    Great! Looking forward to it.

    Not sure where that is all coming from Uncle Target. At sea you navigate by compass not landmark. Compasses work equally well in fog as well as clear air. Fog may explain how they hit a rock, it falls a long way short of explaining how they were so far off course.

    As to the veracity of certain details, I think it is quite irrelevant whether the chap landed on Lampedusa or not. Surely his story is all about his experiences not whether they occured at location X or Y. His story is not diminished or devalued in any way by a wrong locstat.

    This is a story I've told before but perhaps deserves another outing.

    Many moons ago an old boy in my local used to tell stories of his experiences as a 'Dunkirk survivor'. I was too young and too disinterested to take much notice but one evening a couple of other locals decided to take him to task with a barrage of questions. A few weeks later, and after several visits to the local libraries (well before the internet age), the inquisitors came back with a tirade of abuse about how the old boy had made it all up. At that point I became interested and, true enough, nothing that the old boy ever said actualky added up. Wrong dates, wrong locations, unit in the wrong place and so on and on.

    At this point a local historian decided to really look into the matter and lo and behold, it turned out the old boys story was 99% true, the dates, the locations, the units, everything. Except Dunkirk. He was one of the priceless few who had got away from St. Valery. Arguably, an even more interesting tale to tell.

    Didn't change a thing for the old boy, he was a 'Dunkirk survivor' and that was that.

    For me, the moral is simple, these personal stories are all about the experiences not the dates or the locations. They are in no way devalued by a wrong date or a wrong location.
     
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  3. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Mark. I shouldn't worry about Uncle T, he's closed his account, took his kit bag and buggered off.
    Why some folk take umbrage at the slightest thing, puzzles me. Shame really, the thread was coming along nicely thanks to Janet's search.

    Lesley
     
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  4. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    I too am interested in the island 'camp story'.

    This thread got me reading about it and in the fog I bumped into Ustica island. Another of the pre-war Fascist camps but one which was turned into a wartime POW camp for Yugoslav prisoners post April 1941. The conditions there match the sort of thing Uncle Target wrote about albeit short on numbers: 4-5.000 rather than 500. It's the Yugoslav angle there that piqued my interest.

    Coincidentally, it's (sort of) enroute from Bizerta to Naples.

    I do hope vitellino manages to get some good information about Lampedusa and passes it on.
     
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  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I'm back, despite what I said, as I couldn't resist checking out campifascist.it regarding Ustica.

    According to the original documentation on 6 July 1943 thirty-three people were being held there, of whom nine were described as political prisoners and twenty-four as internees.

    There were thirteen ex-Yugoslavs, thirteen 'foreigners' (possibly from the Balkans, looking at their names) and seven Italians.

    On 6 July 1943 all these people were sent to internment camps on the mainland.
     
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  6. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Hi vitellino,

    Here is one of the references I found to Yugoslavs sent to Ustica.
    BBC - WW2 People's War - From Yugoslavia to Dukinfield

    Stanislava's account seems to tally with the above so maybe she is on the list. Unfortunately neither her maiden name or her first married surname are given.


    Edited to add.
    Three documents on the campifascisti.it website list about a hundred Yugoslavs moved off Ustica May to July 1943 and there is reference to a fourth with another 158 names. I can't see Stanislava on the 3 documents. I assume the website does not show every document ever produced just those they have found.

    One of those held on the island in May 1943 was listed as an American but he had a very Yugoslav name Blagoje Vidovic

    Edited 2nd time.
    The document of 6 July 1943 has 50 names in total of which about 40 seem to be Yugoslav. There is a Stanislava Ramovic on the list (No.22) with Ikonia Ramovic one above. The elder sister mentionned in the BBC text?
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
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  7. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I wonder why I only found 33 names? Cracking up or is it bedtime here in Italy?
     
  8. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Time for another glass of vino?

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  9. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Don't drink it. You need a clear head here.

    It was page 2 that escaped me. By the way, they are all women.
     
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  10. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Whilst the document above lists 50 names, the covering letter refers to the transfer of 100.

    Further investigation confirms that Stella Pavasovic (from the BBC text) and Stanislava Ramovic are the same person. Here is a excerpt from a longer interview with Stella/Stanislava regarding her experience on Ustica and shortly after:


    Then we were taken to Ustica. There was only one street and lots of prostitutes from Naples. They had those red lamps. We thought they were women but in fact they were men. (Mussolini disliked gay men as they did not fit in with his virile fascist regime. Most were sent to San Domino but some went to Ustica which is 65km off the north coast of Sicily).

    Ustica was unbelievably hot. In the afternoon you couldn’t go outside. And there was no water. It had to be shipped in from Palermo. We used to get one barrel a day among 25 of us.

    The huts were made of concrete and there were bars on the windows and guards outside. From the windows, which we never shut, you could sometimes catch a glimpse of fighting on the sea. Occasionally bodies would float in. We saw some Americans, too, about half a dozen after a big fight.

    Americans came on the island?

    The Italians brought them. They must have shot them or whatever. They were there three days but we didn’t see much of them because they were military and we were civil.

    How much did you get to eat?

    150 grams of bread a day. I got 300 because I was a teenager.

    Were you hungry?

    Hungry? Oh God yes. They used to give us a type of bun they called a “masetta”. We used to see carabinieri and the fascists who weren’t fit for active service. They looked after us. If I could have got hold of one of them I’d have screwed his neck just to get some bread. All I wanted was bread. In the morning we got bread and minestrone. In the soup were beans and black flies.

    Black flies in the soup?

    Yes, but we didn’t bother. We used to slurp it down because we were so short of water.

    What were the Italian guards like?

    They watched us carefully. That was all. And we didn’t work. You couldn’t do anything other than sit and wait. We used to talk but you weren’t allowed anymore than three in a group. Our men died but the women didn’t. I don’t know why.

    Did anyone escape?

    How could you escape when you were so far from anywhere and there was fighting all around you?

    Is it right you left Ustica in 1943, just before the fall of Mussolini?

    Yes. But before that, one afternoon, we were sitting with a doctor from Prizren who was telling us we’d go home one day. Then we saw something like a stick coming out of the seas. It must have been a submarine periscope. Next thing we saw some sailors and they started firing, I think with a machine gun. They wounded three Italians.

    We’d never seen a submarine or anything like that before. And then it was gone. The Italians suddenly went mad, especially the fascists and those with black caps. The doctor kept telling us “they’ve invaded. They’ve invaded”. In the morning we could see people in little boats. They must have been escaping. We were told we would be leaving as soon as they’d swept the sea for mines.

    The men went first and we had no idea where although we later learned they were taken to Anghiari Arezzo. We had to wait two weeks. We went to Palermo, where we were put back in jail, and then waited for transport to the mainland. The ship we came on, the Farabutto, had been sunk so we left on the Sarajevo.

    We were taken up through Italy to Rome, to Frosinone and then to a big camp at Fraschette. There were all sorts of people there, from Tunisia and all over.

    I remember we were suffering from salt deficiency and our bones were going soft. We couldn’t take anymore so we started a protest march with me at the front as the youngest thinking they wouldn’t touch me. We got to the gate, which was guarded, and then they rounded us up and took us to prison.

    We found a lot of Slovenian girls in the jail but it was an absolutely awful place and packed. There was bombing every night and they used to take us into a cellar. There were kids too, but Italian ones, not ours.

    Then one night we could hear lots of whistling and shouts of “Badoglio”. We had no idea who he was. In the morning, everything had been abandoned but there was no water or food. Two of the Slovenian girls were able to speak German and through them we were able to get to Fraschette camp.
     
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  11. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Presumably prisoners of war.
     
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  12. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Dear vitellino/Janet,

    Do you think this chap ("Nino Taranto") may be able to help?

    C'era una volta il cimitero di guerra ‹ Lampedusa Today™ Magazine

    Have been following this thread avidly as there are two special forces canoeists commemorated at Brookwood who met their fate during Operation Buttercup, so anything Lampedusa related is always of interest.

    Unfortunately my language skills Italian wise are extremely limited hence I've gone no further with trying to contact the gentleman in the link.

    He contributed the article (partially available) here;

    C’era una volta il cimitero di guerra ‹ Magazine - Visit Lampedusa Today

    On that basis he may have further knowledge and may be worth a shout.

    Profuse apologies if this is a suggestion too far given how much you invariably have on your shoulders.

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
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  13. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Searching in my pidgin Italian has brought up this website;

    https://www.ventenniooggi.it/agrigento-le-difese-di-lampedusa

    Some photos revealed by clicking the red dots on the map, and fortunately chrome/google translate puts up the text in English.

    Clicking through all and reading in the hope it may have mention of any camp or camps (internment, prisoner, or otherwise).

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
  14. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    This may be a possibility "camp"/detention use wise.

    https://www.ventenniooggi.it/agrigento-fortino-pinocchio

    Scant information regarding it's wartime use, but given the lie of the land it could readily have had tents around too, and been cordoned by wire if necessary.

    The proximity of the A/A battery though may possibly have Fortino Pinocchio as its barrack/accommodation block (if sighted removed from the gun installation).

    Kind regards (and much conjecture), always,

    Jim.
     
  15. MarkN

    MarkN Well-Known Member

    Jim,

    There is a book, published in 2004, compiled and written by Carlo Spartaco Capogreco titled I campi del duce: L’internamento civile nell’Italia fascista (1940-1943)

    In the initial preamble to the book, giving the background to the creation and early running of the camps, Lampedusa gets a couple of mentions. However, in the main body of the text, where the author presents all manner of facts and statistics about the individual camps, Lampedusa is not listed.

    Now, you could either interpret this as the author being a bit remiss; that no documentation for the camp could be found so nothing could be written; or, there was no (official) camp on Lampedusa during the period covered by the book: 1940-43.

    This is about the most useful information on Lampedusa in the book:
    Nel 1932, per decisione del ministero dell’Interno, la maggior parte dei confinati politici fu trasferita a Ponza e a Ventotene, mentre solo una piccola parte, a scopo punitivo, sarebbe rimasta a Ustica insieme ai confinati comuni. Le isole Lipari e Tremiti furono inizialmente poco utilizzate per i «politici», ma in seguito al crescente coinvolgimento di Lampedusa, Favignana e Pantelleria, fu Mussolini stesso a richiederne l’utilizzazione per gli oppositori più strenui, in quanto esse «permettevano le maggiori garanzie di sicurezza»
    ...
    Lampedusa Anche i circa 120 confinati di Lampedusa vivevano in condizioni pessime, stipati in uno squallido camerone che ne avrebbe potuti accogliere al massimo 50. A rendere nota questa situazione - peraltro aggravata dalle vessazioni imposte ai confinati politici da qualche fanatico esponente della milizia - contribuì all’epoca un documento di denuncia trasmesso clandestinamente alla stampa estera da Francesco Fausto Nitti.


    There is one final mention of Lampedusa - albeit in passing - that another camp on another island had been expanded in the latter half of 1940 by using electrical equipment and furnishings previously removed from Lampedusa.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021 at 2:51 PM
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  16. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything


    Thanks for that MarkN, and for what you have posted in this thread previously.

    Even with my limited Italian those two paragraphs do not a pretty picture make (for political prisoners, or other)

    Kind regards, always,

    Jim.
     
  17. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Jim, I think the answer is yes. I will contact him.

    Capogreco's book is on my desk as I write. It was the first source I consulted. Lampedusa is on a map and that's all.

    This led my to do some further research and I found the above quote.

    I think we might be going round in circles. Let's try to rule Lampedusa in or out and move on from there.

    Vitellino

    Edited to say that I have just tried to contact Nino Taranto via the blog on Lampedusa Today, using my Google account, but access has been denied. I really am going to give up on this one.

    Best of luck those of you who have the necessary stamina to continue.

    Edited again.
    Have tried a second time using email and this time it has gone through. Here's hoping.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021 at 5:50 PM
  18. Mr Jinks

    Mr Jinks Bit of a Cad

    Last edited: Sep 14, 2021 at 10:00 PM
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  19. Dave55

    Dave55 Atlanta, USA

    Agree.

     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2021 at 1:15 AM
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  20. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    An interesting bit of film from the RAF, Kyle but I have a problem with it - the mountain? The highest point of the island of Lampedusa is Albero Sole, at 133 m altitude.

    Now back to our prisoner of war.

    Captured 20 April. Landed with at least one American on an island. Led to understand that it was Lampedusa. There were about 500 men all with dysentery behind a barbed wire fence. Fortunately our prisoner was not there long - he said
    .
    So, he wasn't on Lampedusa on 12 June when the Coldstreams landed - if he had been, he would have been liberated by them. Not being able to rule out his presence on Ustica, it should also be said that he would have left that island too at the end of May or beginning of June.

    I have his name which I may not divulge. I have found him in WO 392/21 - the IRC have him registered in PG 66 Capua, so presumably he was taken from this island on which he had landed to Naples and then to this camp. I intend to send for his Liberaton Report.

    I am now looking for any other prisoner who might have been on this barge.

    Vitellino
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021 at 8:24 PM
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