Research of descendants and survivors on POW Camp 65 Gravina-Altamura Italy

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Domenico Bolognese, Nov 1, 2018.



    1942: anno XX fascist era. In between the Apulian cities of Altamura and Gravina in South Italy, a brand new military camp has been just finished.


    36 barracks are ready to “receive” almost 9000 commonwealth’s soldiers captured in Tobruk and mainly North Africa in what is going to become the biggest Italian POW camp during WW2.

    Campo Prigionieri di Guerra 65 (P.G.65) is born.


    During the following 2 years, those men went through a chronic lack of food and water.
    Despite such a difficult times, prisoners organized shows, a music band, box matches (in spectacular rings as described by one of the Red Cross inspectors visiting the camp). One of the barrack was fully furnished with furniture made from the Red Cross Parcels’ wooden covers received from Canada.

    A mini-economy was established fueled by the little liras allowed to prisoners and by the small bargains with soldiers and local farmers.

    upload_2018-11-1_15-29-28.png upload_2018-11-1_15-30-28.png


    Nevertheless many suffered of various disease; 70 of them didn’t make it. The others were shortly going to be moved in Northern Italy and then in German’s Stalag. Some tried to escape but were recaptured shortly afterward. Just a few were so lucky to be exchanged with italian prisoners.



    Autumn 1943 camp 65 was evacuated. In few months it would be re-occupied by the Allies that established a training camp for Yugoslavian partisans, man and women, to be sent on the Balcans to help Tito’s liberation army to kick the Germans out of the country … but that’s another story.



    2017 … 75 years later most of the buildings are gone along with the memory of the camp among the people in the local communities. What is not “gone” is the remembrance of the descendants and their love for the beloved that suffered here.



    75 years later a local history buff, which is me, has started to collect one by one individual stories of the prisoners trying to contact as many descendants as possible all around the world: letters, pictures, anecdotes that has passed the millennium keeping their intensity and strength almost intact.


    I have welcomed sons, daughters and nephews from England, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, US, Israel and many more are scheduled to come.




    Thanks to the support of the local municipality and media, the story of the camp is coming to the surface with an ever growing interest and enthusiasm from everybody.


    But we are only at the beginning. The ruins of the camp are at danger of collapse also because the nearby Military Base, still active since WW2, is running military exercises today.

    The camp and its memories can be saved only by creating a memorial museum on the site.

    There is also another wish or better say another “miracle” to happen: find at least one survivor.



    Attached Files:

  2. Meloz

    Meloz Member

    Vitellino has just alerted me to your efforts. I will email you soon (not a survivor, I'm afraid, but a descendant!).
  3. GeoffMNZ

    GeoffMNZ Well-Known Member

    vitellino likes this.
  4. dear Meloz looking forward to hear from you soon ;-) ciao
  5. thanks Geoff ... I will look into it in depth. Thanks for your help
  6. tedfromscrubs

    tedfromscrubs Junior Member

    Domenico - do you know of this organisation La Casa della Memoria di Servigliano?

    They are not close to you (Le Marche) but are doing a lot of the same sort of work and you might like to contact them.

    Good luck with what you are doing - a very worthwhile project!

  7. Darren Griffiths

    Darren Griffiths New Member

    amazing stuff. thank you. My grandad was a prisoner here. I am trying to find out more about his story. I do know he was one of the men who escaped and were recaptured.
    Do you know which pow camp in northern italy they were moved too?
    JimHerriot likes this.
  8. Dear Geoff thank you so much and so sorry for such a late reply. For whatever reason I haven't received a notification via email about your message.


  9. Thank you so much Anne ... sorry for my late reply but for whatever reason I haven't received a notification via email about your message. I am in touch with Servigliano and possibly do some activities together.

    All the best

  10. Dear Darren,

    thank you for your message. May I know more information about your grandfather ? We have documents and a diary about few escapes. Please send me information via email at:

    Once I have a name I can try to see if he was on the list of POWs sent to Chiavari (pg 52) the only list available. Other destinations were Laterina (82), Gruppignano (57), Sforzacosta (53).

    Awaiting yours

  11. Darren Griffiths

    Darren Griffiths New Member

    Dear Domenico, thank you so much for your prompt response. My Grandads name was William James Griffiths. As far as I know he was a corporal with the South Wales Borderers. his army serial number was 3908362
  12. Hi Darren, I have found his name on the list of POWs at camp 65. Please contact me via email .
  13. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Quite a few ended up in one of the work camps attached to PG112 Turin. I will check to see if your grandfather was one of them, Darren. I will post a list of those I know of soon,

    Can I suggest in any case that you send for his service records?


    Edited: He's not on either of the two lists I have. I will email them to Domenico in any case.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  14. Phil Mills

    Phil Mills Member

    hi Domenico,
    I've recently begun a history of the Cyprus Regiment. A large number of the Pioneer Company men were taken prisoner during the Greek Campaign. At least 102 were moved from the German run Salonika Trans Camp (Dulag 183) to Campo PG65.
    This particular part of the research is in the early stages and there is much more to carry out. As part of the research I too hope to track down as many Cypriots who served during the war as I can. Of the prisoners I know of I have managed to track down the families of six of them. At least one family would be very much interested in visiting the site.
    At the beginning of May 1943 all the Cypriot and most of the Palestinian PoWs were transferred to Campo PG62 (Bergamo).
    Be very nice discuss the history of PG65 with you. If you private message me I'll send you my email.
    vitellino likes this.
  15. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Quite a few got across the Alps to Switzerland after the Italian armistice of 8 September 1943. Here are some - only one from PG 65, though.

    Send me a private message and I'll send you the prisoner list for Cypriots held in Italy and Germany

    Best wishes,


    Attached Files:

    Phil Mills and 4jonboy like this.
  16. Phil Mills

    Phil Mills Member

    hi Vitellino,
    Thank you so much for replying. I’m out and about and can’t access the attachment just now. Will read careful when home. Looking forward to speaking with you. Cheers

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