Major Peter A Hewitt, Foresters

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by tedfromscrubs, Dec 26, 2018.

  1. tedfromscrubs

    tedfromscrubs Junior Member

    I am looking for any information on the above, who was deputy to Lt Col Hugo de Burgh at the Allied Screening Commission in Rome until its disbandment in November 1947. The ASC was set up to reward Italian sharecroppers (contadini) for the brave assistance they had provided to escaping Allied PoWs. Over 1.5 million documents were created in the process. In his final report he says “A foundation of sympathy and friendship has been formed, particularly with the huge mass of Contadini. Whether this foundation is kept in repair, or allowed to crumble is a matter beyond the Commission’s scope ………… It is hoped that the work that has achieved so much, will not in the future be shelved and become an apathetic memory”.
    These records ended up in the US, the Brits having adjudged them "of no historical importance" - despite Major Hewitt's moving words.

    Here is a brief administrative history:

    That's all the info I have on Major Hewitt so anything further would be very gratefully received
    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    There's a letter from him in WO 310/91 War Crimes file regarding the shooting of Pte. William Edwards at Roselli near Spoleto in January 1944.

    A man called Giovanni Agliani had been arrested by the B.M.P. and the carabinieri and was awaiting trial for the above crime in Padua gaol. It was likely that there would have been a conviction as the evidence against Agliani, who was engaged in a family feud over inheritance with his cousin and wanted to pin the crime on the latter, seemed to be convincing.

    However, following a plea from Agliani's wife, the Countess Betty di San Marzano pulled some strings with an Admiral acquaintance in high places to get him off. Hewitt wrote on behalf of the Admiral, wanting to know with what Agliani had been charged, given that he had been awarded a Certificate for having given help to escapers from PG 77 and PG 115.

    Outcome: Agliani was released and no one was ever brought to trial for the murder of Pte. Edwards.

    Hewitt letter r.e. Agliani request for charges WO_310_91.jpg
    Edited to say:
    I knew I'd got something else on him. On 3 March 1947 he wrote to the mayor of Fontana Liri, which lies to the north of Cassino, to say that no prisoner of war by the name of Victor James Crosby had ever been in Italy, let alone fighting with the partisans and being killed in action, (as maintained by the mayor). (ASC Correspondence, file 4-8)

    A pity the Major hadn't taken the trouble to find out that by the time he wrote the letter no fewer than three war crimes files had been opened on Ldg.Tel. Crosby of HMSubmarine Saracen, and that the preliminary inquiries into his death, which included interviewing eye witnesses, had already taken place.

    Someone somewhere will have something good to say about Maj. Hewitt, I hope.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2018
  3. tedfromscrubs

    tedfromscrubs Junior Member

    Thanks Vitellino - I've read Betty di San Marzano's book "A game called Survival" and vaguely remember this being mentioned. I'll have to go back and have another look!
  4. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    Santa brought me The Archipelago by John Foot. A fascinating assessment of post-war Italy.


  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    For other forum members, the above book was written by escaper Ian Reid, not by Betty herself, pub. Evans Bros. London, 1980. I wouldn't quote this source as it contains or two basic errors which don't bode well for the rest of the contents. (e.g. Spoleto was liberated on 25 June 1944 when in fact it was liberated on 16th June).

    I think the only non-biased source is the correspondence contained in the War Crimes files, reported verbatim in my book 'The Long Trail Home', Chapter 10, I have published Betty's letter to the Chief Constable of Kent ( which she requested be forwarded to the Judge Advocate General, London) and also Hewitt's letter (above) .

    I'll send you War Crimes file WO 310/91 if you pm me,

    Last edited: Dec 27, 2018
  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Frank, thanks. I'll get hold of a copy.

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