Looking for son of Italian POW in Yorkshire during WW2

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Elisa1979, May 8, 2018.

  1. Elisa1979

    Elisa1979 Member

    Hi everybody,
    I'm writing because I'm looking for a person. I've just discovered that my grandfather had a relationship with an English woman during the WW2. He was an Italian prisoner brought from North Africa to England, to Camp 53 in Brayton, Yorkshire. There he was working for a farm and he knew this girl who was the owner's daughter. He'd been living there from 1942 to 1946 and in that period she gave birth to a child, a boy. I know that when he came back to Italy after the end of the war, they continued writing each other. I've recently discovered this story but I don't have any other details apart from the fact that his name could be Paolo or Paul and that he was attending to a school of music when he was a child.
    Please Please if you have any information or you know a similar story reply to me!!
    My grandfather 's name was Vincenzo and he came from Emilia Romagna.
    Thank you for any answer!
    HA96 likes this.
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Hi Elisa

    A little confused - was your grandfather Paolo Vincenzo - if not what was the POW's full name


    There is a file which may or may not hold some information:
    Reference: FO 939/135
    53 Working Camp, Sandbeds Camp, Brayton, Yorkshire
    Note: see also FO 939/302
    Date: 1945-1948
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Former reference in its original department: CO Files 152/59
    Legal status: Public Record(s)
    Closure status: Open Document, Open Description
    53 Working Camp, Sandbeds Camp, Brayton, Yorkshire | The National Archives
    HA96 and CL1 like this.
  3. Elisa1979

    Elisa1979 Member

    Hi, my grandfather name is Vincenzo Sacchetti. The name of his son could be Paolo or Paul, but it's just a rumour from an old member of the family, maybe it's not true. My grandfather died 20 years ago, so I don't have any other info. I've looked for a school of music in Brayton area, just in case that have a list of names but they seem all quite recent.
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    The only Paul or Paolo Sacchetti I can find in the records I have access to is:

    England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
    Name: Paolo Sacchetti
    Date of Registration: Jul-Aug-Sep 1959
    Registration district: Bristol
    Inferred County: Gloucestershire, Somerset
    Spouse: Cosima A Poso
    Volume Number: 7b
    Page Number: 362

  5. Elisa1979

    Elisa1979 Member

    Thank you, I'll try to find something in that direction even if I think that Paolo has'nt my grandfather surname.
  6. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I think the POW Camp could be have been around The Barff,a 150 foot hill off and on the south side of the Brayton to Hambleton back road,The road to Gateforth branches off this road to the south just west of Thorpe Willoughby.

    The reference to a mushroom farm may be misleading for the farm in the 1960s was located on this road just west of Thorpe Willoughby and owned by Middlebrooks....the site has been disused for some years,it's future has not been decided.There was some objection to a travellers caravan site being established there which is close to Thorpe Willoughby housing which has expanded westwards.It might be that Middlebrooks set up the mushroom farm on the POW camp on The Barff initially.

    Brayton was a village within the Registration Sub District of Selby from 1837-1974 which in turn was within the Yorkshire West Riding Registration District based at Wakefield.Any birth at Brayton during the given period should be found registered at Wakefield.

    School of music might well be associated with Selby Abbey.Selby Abbey Primary School might have been the child's first school....on the other hand the child might have attended Brayton School Primary School....some schools maintain pupil registrations in archive form.

    Ordnance Survey maps of the period are quite helpful by siting farms by name...Selby covered by the York Ordnance Survey Map,fully revised in 1958....alas no farms identified.
  7. Elisa1979

    Elisa1979 Member

    Thank you very very much for your answer, you suggest me many path to pursue and I'll try to follow every single one.
    As for the farm, I remember that he was talking about digging potatoes while working there. He never mentioned mushrooms. And to be sure to understand, Middlebrooks could be the name of the owner of the farm were he was or of the owner come after the war?
  8. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    From the 1939 Register for Middlebrook that live in Selby results in a family of 3 generations

    Harold A Middlebrook 14 Aug 1876 Selby, Yorkshire (West Riding), England Ella

    Ella Middlebrook 20 Nov 1878 Selby, Yorkshire (West Riding), England Harold A

    Stanley Middlebrook 17 Feb 1907 Selby, Yorkshire (West Riding), England Ethel

    Ethel Middlebrook 9 Mar 1907 Selby, Yorkshire (West Riding), England Stanley

    Peter W Middlebrook 19 Dec 1935 Selby, Yorkshire (West Riding), England

    and looking deeper at Stanley above his details are
    Name: Stanley Middlebrook
    Gender: Male
    Marital Status: Married
    Birth Date: 17 Feb 1907
    Residence Year: 1939
    Address: Highfield
    Residence Place: Selby, Yorkshire (West Riding), England
    Occupation: Farmer In Mushroom Grower
    Schedule Number: 30
    Sub Schedule Number: 1
    Enumeration District: KSGB


    British Phone Books, 1880-1984
    Name: Stanley Middlebrook
    Address: Brayton
    Publication Year: 1972
    Directory Place: Selby, York, England
    Exchange: Selby
    Page Number: 128

    1939 England and Wales Register
    Name: Harold A Middlebrook
    Gender: Male
    Marital Status: Married
    Birth Date: 14 Aug 1876
    Residence Year: 1939
    Address: Bank. Baffam Lane
    Residence Place: Selby, Yorkshire (West Riding), England
    Occupation: Farmer Own A/C
    Schedule Number: 27
    Sub Schedule Number: 1
    Enumeration District: KSGB
    HA96 likes this.
  9. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Well if there is a link to Stanley, then this might add something

    Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates, 1910-1950
    Name: Stanley Middlebrook
    Birth Date: 17 Feb 1907
    Birth Location: Selby

    He was obviously not a poor farmer

  10. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    I would discount Middlebrooks being the owner of the farm.Stanley was firm's mushroom business founder and as far as I can ascertain the family was not involved in traditional farming.The reference to Harold's farm holding at Baffam Lane,Brayton,named Bank is east of the A19 and some way from the suggested site of the POW Camp.....was the Bank a farm?.The nearest farm in the POW Camp area appears to be Barff House Farm which is aside The Barff on the north side and close to Thorpe Willoughby.There are further farms,not much more than a mile south of Brayton at Burn on the A19...quite a number of farms here where Italian POW labour ws used.

    (Middlebrooks demise at the location occurred about 20 years ago came about over labour rates after the family sold out to Bookers, the large food conglomerate,now owned by Tesco as of recent)

    The Selby area is renowned for root crops such as potatoes and as I remember there were numerous Italian POWs in the area working on farms....distinctive garb of brown overalls with yellow diamonds sewn on to the overalls....no mistaking Italian POWs for any other farm worker.

    It is possible to search for present day farms in the area which will throw up the farm names.Assuming that the farm properties still exist from the wartime,it should be able to have some idea where POWs were employed in the area...Barff House Farm might be one of them.

    There is the possibility of Italian POWs being referenced in the Selby Times archives...it's a long established weekly newspaper.

    However the registering of the birth of the child within the Yorkshire West Riding District should confirm the mother and place of birth....a tremendous task to ascertain with a search based on Paolo or Paul.I would think that the child would carry the mother's surname.A task of looking through the Yorkshire West Riding District register and picking out Selby registered births for the appropriate period .....a job for TD perhaps ;)
  11. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    There is too little data to search

  12. Elisa1979

    Elisa1979 Member

    I'll start to write to some farms sites, some have public profiles because of room renting. Just to know since when they are on that area or if maybe have relatives remembering some old stories.

    Harry I can't believe I speak with someone who have seen Italian workers in that period, it's really touching for me.

    TD I know you have so few details to start a research by name. If someone of these farms replies to me I'll let you know.

    Then I think I'll spend my holidays in July having a trip through Yorkshire, to see the places and consult the archives.. maybe putting all pieces together. ..
    HA96, Harry Ree and Tricky Dicky like this.
  13. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    Just a thought.......

    The child could’ve been born anywhere. It was quite common for expectant mother’s- usually unmarried or if married with an absent husband in wartime - to reside elsewhere during the pregnancy to prevent any stigma attaching to the family. They would return home with a babe in arms and a tale that the child’s mother (usually a relative with the same surname) had died in childbirth and the family had “adopted” the baby.

    HA96 likes this.
  14. Blutto

    Blutto Plane Mad

    Seems that unless there is anything useful in TD's FO 939/135, then its a case of looking through 4 or so years worth of local birth records. If Tullybrone's suggestion is also taken into account,then its the proverbial needle in the haystack.
  15. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    Just out if interest, children registered as born in Selby 1943 - 1947 results in

    Paul A Golton Jan-Feb-Mar 1944 Selby Yorkshire West Riding mothers maiden name - Pickering

    Paul Graydon Jan-Feb-Mar 1947 Selby North Yorkshire - Noble

    Paul J Penrith Jan-Feb-Mar 1947 Selby North Yorkshire - Benson

    Paul V Dugher Apr-May-Jun 1946 Selby Yorkshire West Riding - Booker

    Paul M Barrett Jul-Aug-Sep 1944 Selby Yorkshire West Riding - Jinks

    Paul M Watson Apr-May-Jun 1947 Selby Yorkshire West Riding - Cockerill

    There are no Paolo's registered during the same period
  16. Elisa1979

    Elisa1979 Member

    Tullybrone is right, he could have been born anywhere... But for sure he's been raised by his mother and not adopted by someone else. The keystone is finding the farm, and someone who knows and wants to talk about it... I also have some photos of my grandfather in the camp and in the farm. Maybe with a bit of luck someone there can recognize the place. ..

    I know also that the farm's owners came to Italy (Rimini) on holidays some years after the end of the war and met my grandfather, who was living nearby. They asked him to come back to England to work for them, but at that time he had already met my grandmother and so he refused...

    Anyway, it's a very delicate matter, I know I can't jump in someone's life just saying "Hell I'm your Italian niece"... I'd like only to see... It's hard but I'm positive.

    I'll check these name list TD, thank you!
  17. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member


    Do you have any names in old letters, on post cards, Xmas cards. I would have thought going to Italy for a holiday would have been very expensive in ?? 1960's so they would be quite wealthy as such, just thinking around the subject

    HA96 likes this.
  18. Elisa1979

    Elisa1979 Member

    I have only these
    IMG-20180110-WA0005.jpg IMG_20180220_102457.jpg
    No other names unfortunately..
  19. Elisa1979

    Elisa1979 Member

    I have also this picture, they seem to be at work and the girl among them could be the owner's daughter.
    My grandfather is the tallest, the second from the right...
    TriciaF likes this.
  20. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    TD...It's a good start.I would not expect the child to be named as Paolo for what would be sensitive reasons.

    I think that there is a transcription error in the two entries referring to North Yorkshire.Selby was always within the old West Riding of Yorkshire until the local government re-organisation was enacted in 1974 and this is reflected in the Births Deaths and Marriages Registers.(Quite ridiculous that Selby is now considered to be part of North Yorkshire when within 35 miles south is the Nottinghamshire border....North of York was the old North Riding of Yorkshire up to the Tees)

    My late brother in law lived in the Selby area as a boy during the war and knew the area well and I am sure he could have added some detailed information.He and my sister then lived at Thorpe Willoughby from the mid 1960s. His my sister still lives there and my two nephews as I recollect were always spending their leisure time as young boys around The Barff....one of them might be aware of where the former POW Camp was.

    Farms in the Selby area....discount those at York,Tadcaster,Goole,Doncaster and Castleford, these are included but are not in the Selby area of reference....cannot find the child's surname from the list posted.


    I would add this list refers to farms as now....it is possible that some farms have been lost,being amalgamated with larger farms,

    Elisa ......Italian POWs posed no problems for their captors,it was thought that they were pleased to be out of the conflict.As my mother said "they are harmless,all they want to do is whistle at the girls"..... ironical that later she would be the great great aunt of four Italian children.
    Last edited: May 10, 2018
    TriciaF likes this.

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