T.172539 Caporale Maggiore Elio FINELLI, Italian Army: 09/04/1944, UK

Discussion in 'Searching for Someone & Military Genealogy' started by Jethro Tull, Dec 17, 2021.

  1. Jethro Tull

    Jethro Tull Member

    Good afternoon folks,

    I'm working on side project and have been for about 12 years now, I dip in a out of from to time when I can.

    I am gradually getting around to researching all of the war graves in the small cemetery on road.

    One of the graves is to Elio Finelli CAPORALE MAGGIORE T.172539. Other than his estimated D.O.B of 1906 and date of death of 9th Aprill 1944 I really am not able to find any additional information on this gent.

    I wondering if anyone has any pointers on how to search for Italian P.O.W.s in allied hands or where I could possibly go to find out more about him?

    I would love to be able to bring his story to life and ensure him and his grave are not forgotten.

    Thanks for any pointers


  2. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    You ought to consider making an application to Red Cross when their next (usually very short) enquiry window opens early on 24th January 2022.

    Requests for information about people held during Spanish Civil War or Second World War: Quarterly limit reached

    You need to be quick off the mark as the enquiry window often closes after 2 hours due to the quota being full.

    Forum member vitellino (Janet) has an excellent knowledge of Italian sources so she may be able to offer some advice on your best way forward.

    Good Luck

    4jonboy likes this.
  3. Jethro Tull

    Jethro Tull Member

    Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the heads up on this one. Spent some time trying their sites today to no avail.

    Was not aware they offered an equiry service too. I'll give it a try.

    I'll reach out to vitellino too to see if there are any pointers in the interim.

    Many thanks

  4. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member

    You’re welcome.

    The Red Cross provide a free service. A drop down online application form will appear on the day. You need to complete and submit it as soon as possible on the day. As it stands you won’t be able to provide much of the detail - parents names, date & place of capture etc - but there is a free text box where you can explain your interest in the subject.

    You get a written reply from ICRC that in pre Covid times would arrive by post 4 to 5 months after the application was submitted.

    4jonboy likes this.
  5. Jethro Tull

    Jethro Tull Member

    Fantastic stuff! I've added an alarm into my diary to remind me to get on it first thing incan on the day.

    Hopefully between now and then I may get lucky and find some extra detail to add.


  6. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    It might help to use his name only. He was a Caporale Maggiore or Corporal Major. His name is Elio Finelli.

    Until just now I did not know Italian POWs were bought to the UK, from wherever they were captured and the CWGC records show the first death was the 17th August 1941. There are 455 war dead buried in the UK, around a hundred elsewhere. By Finelli's death in April 1944 Italy was an ally after the armistice in September 1943, not all Italian POWs changed allegiance from Il Duce (even if the only records seen awhile ago were those who fought on with the Japanese).

    Could Finelli be a "hard core" Fascist who remained in a POW Camp?

    Others here know where POW camps were located, his grave is at Fakenham, Norfolk. Given the labour shortage I understand Italians volunteered to work on farms, so he could have died whilst at liberty working. Some non-POW context is on: http://www.breakingnewground.org.uk/assets/Uploads/Mil-Hist-Report/BRECSOCMILREP.pdf

    There was a POW Camp (no. 82) at Pudding Norton / Hempton Green, Hempton, Fakenham. A little information on a local history website. Note the Italians are referred to as internees in the last section. See: Old pictures of ex POW camp at Pudding Norton near Fakenham

    There is an inspection report on: PoW Camp 82 Hempton Green

    An aerial photo exists on: Camp 82 - Hempton Green Camp, Fakenham, Norfolk

    Curiously two Italian labourers from the camp who died when a USAAF bomber crashed locally in 1945 are not buried in the Fakenham cemetery. See: B-24 Liberator bomber crew remembered 75 years after crash

    Have you placed a notice in the local newspaper, local history group etc? Is there an entry in the church's records?

    Good luck.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2021
  7. Jethro Tull

    Jethro Tull Member

    Thanks for this davidbfpo for this.

    I only live about a mile from this site and know people who now live on it. Only just realised this is the site of the old camp!! This is quite cool.

    It would certainly be interesting to see if can ever find out why and how he remains to be buried in a war grave even after the armistice with Italy. I wonder if he died of wounds received never fully recovering from before the armistice? I hadn't actually considered this part of it. Knew we had a POW camp near here and just assumed he was a POW.

    Thanks for the links to the camp 82 too. Bit more for me to read up on for background

    Many thanks

  8. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

    Contact CWGC they may or may not have more info

    Service Number: T.172539
    Regiment & Unit/Ship
    Italian Army

    Date of Death
    Died 09 April 1944

    Buried or commemorated at

    Section B Callal Aut Grave 13.

    United Kingdom

    Country of Service Italian

    CPL Elio Finelli (unknown-1944) - Find A Grave...



    The Headstone of Elio Finelli in Fakenham cemetery
    Caporale Maggiore (Corporal) Elio Finelli was an Italian soldier abroad when he died in Fakenham on the 9th April 1944 aged 38. Nothing else known at this time.
    This is also a rarely seen example of a Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone specifically for Italian servicemen.
    The Headstone of Elio Finelli in... © Adrian S Pye cc-by-sa/2.0
    Tony56 and 4jonboy like this.
  9. Jethro Tull

    Jethro Tull Member

    Thanks for this CL1, hadn't really thought about contacting the CWGC directly as just assumed that if they had info they would have it on their website.

    I'll ping an email off in the morning to them, see if I can get any reply with extra details.

    Many thanks

  10. CL1

    CL1 116th LAA and 92nd (Loyals) LAA,Royal Artillery

  11. Jethro Tull

    Jethro Tull Member

    Thanks for this one Clive, I'll have a read and see what the options are.


  12. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello everyone,
    Ive been watching this thread but have been very busy and haven't had time to reply .
    As I understand it, Italy did not become an ally after the armistice, only a co-belligerent. It seems fairly obvious to me that those men who were taken prisoner were unlikely to change their allegiance - they had been raised under fascism and didn't have to make the choice after the armistice that their colleagues in arms ( who hadn't been deported to the 3rd Reich as internees) were faced with - join Mussolini's new army or go into hiding.

    Thanks Clive for the details of the above website - I didn't even know it existed and may well find it useful in the future,
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2021
  13. Jethro Tull

    Jethro Tull Member

    Hi Vitellino,,

    Thanks for the clarification on this one. I was not aware of the ally status of Italy at this point. Certainly would make sense in thst case that he would have been kept as a P.O.W.

    I'll come back and update the thread if I find anything extra on this chap moving forward.


  14. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    The point is that it was impossibile to send prisoners back to Italy until the end of the war. Where could they be sent to ? To the liberated area, under the Allied MIlitary Government? What if their home was in the German occupied area, theoretically under Mussolini's Republic of Salò?
  15. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

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