Yugoslav prisoners of war

Discussion in 'Italy' started by JimHerriot, Sep 16, 2021.

  1. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Have placed this thread in "Italy" entirely due to a tenuous Trieste connection, so for vitellino, markN, and all:

    "Yugoslav prisoners of war".

    "POWs", "displaced persons", "European Volunteer Workers", "Westward Ho!" recruits, wartime and post-war. And if you should be puzzled by the "Westward Ho!" mention please see here;

    Westward Ho!

    The first of many follows, one photo, front and back.

    Kind regards, always remember, never forget,


    POST WAR various 2 a FRONT.jpg

    POST WAR various 2 BACK.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2021
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  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thanks Jim. Trying to work out what he's written.
    I can't watch the film as I'm not in the UK!!!

    Here's my first contribution which I found immediately as it is the testimony of Mauro Politto, son of the quartermaster of PG 115 Morgnano and I included it in my book on POWs in Umbria:--

    Mauro Politto's story:-

    Not being considered suitable for the Russian Campaign, my father Primo was appointed to the post of quartermaster in PG 115 at Morgnano. In Rome there was nothing but hunger and violent riots and given that it had no work the SIAE, (Italian Society of Authors and Publishers), where my mother had worked for fifteen years, granted her three months holiday with pay (August, September and October). 1942 - MY NOTE

    My father at this point rented some rooms in a farmhouse at Morgnano. The prisoners in PG 115 were used for various jobs, given the absence of young Italians almost all of whom had been drafted into the army. The Geneva Convention stipulated that prisoners of war could not be used in work related to the war industry and even less in the mine, but the Italian government got round these requirements as far as the Slav prisoners were concerned, violating them both, given that the lignite mines fuelled the steel industry in Terni which was engaged in the manufacture of military equipment.

    ... My father often took me into the prisoner of war camp. The prisoners were young and had left a lot young children at home. The sight of me pleased these young men and my father often left me with them for a while. One of these prisoners, a Yugoslav named Cebzanovic Lazar, made a portrait of me in charcoals that hangs at home. The web allows incredible things: I entered the name Cebzanovic Lazar and discovered that he was on a list of people held in Geneva who were registered as they the crossed the Swiss border during the Second World War. Lazar, who was born on 21.10.1917, was 26 when he drew the portrait.

    For many years my father received thank you letters and cards from prisoners, the last postcard he received was in 1963 from an Englishman who had already written to him in the past. I hope that Lazar too was able to make it home

    By the time of the Armistice there were no Yugoslavs in PG 115. They had been transferred to a work camp (PG 117, a lignite mine at Ruscio, still in Umbria) or to PG 62 Grumello del Piano, Bergamo. Given that Cebzanovic Lazar made it to Switzerland, I Imagine he had been sent to Bergamo.

    Somewhere I have a copy of the portrait but can't find it. In the meantime, here ìs Mauro Politto on his father's shoulders.

    Mauro e Primo Pallitto.jpg

    I have a lot of info. about the Slavs in Umbria, but as I said on the Lampedusa thread, I'm busy at the moment. I will sort it all out and post at a later date.

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2021
  3. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Perhaps I should declare my particular interest in this thread - I worked as a translator for topografia per la storia - but I am always hesitant to push myself forward as I don't think this forum should be about us but about those who served in WW2.

    Getting back to Topografia per la Storia, click on People, and scroll down to Milan Sirotic', whose case particularly interested me.

    Last edited: Sep 17, 2021
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  4. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    The writing suggests he was in an Italian camp. :)

    Memories from Eboli. ( Edited to correct my original wonky reading )
    11/9/1946 from the camp.

    To remember and [have] long memories of our compatriot Nedeljko.
    From Nikola, Radivojsa and Vendorf.

    The handwritten cyrilic and spelling suggest a Serb.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021
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  5. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    These two dates interest me. Who exactly was being held in the work camp at Edolo up to two years after the war had ended?
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  6. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Perhaps Janet, an answer possibly within here, maybe?

    Eboli.org.au | About Us

    Or here?

    Report on Yugoslav Refugees in Allied camps, 1946 (?)

    My background with the photo posted, and photos I will be posting here.

    At an auction back in beginning of March 2020 I purchased an old cardboard shoe box, submitted from a "no details provided" house clearance described as "WW2 Photographic Archive of Yugoslavian Army Interest" (from memory I'm pretty sure I was the only bidder). On returning home and opening up the shoe box it contained a mouth eaten album, along with many loose photos that at one time must have been within the album, plus others that were of a size that they would never have fitted within said album. To my shame it became a "research" item that was pushed aside by the more pressing needs of the corona virus outbreak.

    I've only returned to the box within the last fortnight, and hampered by my complete lack of cyrillic language skills I've not come up with much beyond bits prompted by the knowledge of vitellino (Janet) and markN in the "Lampedusa" thread here; Lampedusa and this thread.

    The album is a bit of an enigma, and clearly in my eyes at one time a treasured possession of person or persons unknown.

    So, some more photos that will likely both help and hinder, but will hopefully be of interest. Any/all help gratefully received!

    Kind regards, always,


    Album cover.jpg

    Album inside 1.jpg

    POST WAR various 3 a FRONT.jpg

    POST WAR various 3 BACK.jpg
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  7. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    And here are three more from the same pages. Not post war, not prisoner of war.

    I'd be very interested in a translation of the writing on the back of the photograph (dated 1943) of the chap in the pinstripe/chalkstripe Oxford bags, as there appear to be a couple of possibly anglo/English names within (apologies in advance of dodgy eyesight errors).

    Also, I did a double take when viewing (with aid of magnifying glass) what appears to likely be a final dive of an aircraft in the background of one of the other photos (I just can't see how the pilot could pull up from there). Also, notice the couple of chaps in the background of the other photo who appear to be loading magazines.

    Will happily start a separate thread for the wartime photos, if you good folks think that best.

    Kind regards, always, Jim.

    NOT POST WAR various 4 a FRONT.jpg

    NOT POST WAR various 4 BACK.jpg

    NOT POST WAR various 5 a FRONT.jpg

    NOT POST WAR various 5 BACK.jpg

    NOT POST WAR various 6 a FRONT.jpg

    NOT POST WAR various 6 BACK.jpg
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  8. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    The repatriation of Yugoslav POW and civilians back to Communist Yugoslavia was halted on 31/5/1945, after reports of massacres. Described in detail here, alas minus how many remained to be moved to Italian camps. For background see: Bleiburg repatriations - Wikipedia

    As regards the photo(s) of a Yugoslav headgear they appear not be the Slovene Home Guard, who became POWs in Austrai; they had German style peaked caps. Nor the Croatian Home Guard.

    The photo in Post 7, of an armed man, appears to have the headgear of the Royal Yugoslav Army, which surrendered in April 1941, to the Axis invaders. Alas the Chetniks also had similar headgear.
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  9. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Hello David,

    For me the chaps are almost certainly Royal Yugoslav Army (and some Chetniks too). There's a good little piece on the Cocarde (Kokarde) within the website I linked to above here;

    Eboli.org.au | Badges & Cocarde

    In the meantime, for all, here are a couple more of the post-war POW/Displaced Persons chaps.

    Kind regards, always,


    POST WAR various 4 a FRONT.jpg

    POST WAR various 4 BACK.jpg

    POST WAR various 5 a Front.jpg

    POST WAR various 5 BACK.jpg
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  10. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Another post-war photo, this time from a camp in Germany. On being moved from Italy by 1947, nearly all single chaps were sent to Munster, with Married couples and children being sent to Fallingbostel.

    "In April 1947, a DP camp was reopened in the army barracks at Hoher Heckenweg (now renamed Portsmouth barracks) as a Regional Processing Centre for the British "Westward Ho!" scheme (recruitment of DPs for work in Great Britain). In August 1947 the barracks became the Zonal Transit Camp for this operation. About 60,000 DPs passed through this camp on their way to Great Britain. In June 1949, after the end of Operation "Westward Ho!", IRO resettlement of Displaced Persons to Australia, Chile and France was organized in this camp by 52 DPACS (Displaced Persons Assembly Centre Staff). About 10,000 DPs passed this camp on the way to a new home. Besides this transit part of the camp, a static part existed until its closure in November 1950."

    DP Camps Muenster, continued

    Kind regards, always,


    POST WAR various 7 a FRONT.jpg

    POST WAR various 7 BACK.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2021
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  11. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Dated 1946, appears to be within a hospital somewhere (in Italy perhaps?),

    Kind regards, always,


    POST WAR various 8 a FRONT.jpg

    POST WAR various 8 BACK.jpg
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  12. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    From Hansard, 23rd April 1947; link here; Yugoslavs (Hansard, 23 April 1947)


    HC Deb 23 April 1947 vol 436 cc1006-7

    3. Major Beamish; asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs how many Yugoslav displaced persons are in Italy in camps and outside camps, respectively; how many Yugoslavs known to be in Italy have been listed by the Yugoslav government as war criminals, traitors or quislings; how many persons in these categories have been apprehended and handed over to the Yugoslav authorities after a prima facie case had been established; and how many Yugoslavs in Italy are known to have fought under Italian or German command against the Allies.

    Mr. McNeil;
    About 7,000 Yugoslavs are known to be in displaced persons camps in Italy. Another 12,000 who surrendered to British Forces in 1945 are at present being moved from British camps in Italy to the British zone of Germany. It is impossible to estimate how many Yugoslavs are at large in Italy until the present census which is being undertaken by the Italian Government has been completed. The whereabouts of only a small proportion of those who have been listed by the Yugoslav Government as traitors or quislings are known to His Majesty's Government. Twenty-two of these persons have so. far been surrendered to the Yugoslav authorities by the British military authorities in Italy. Until the screening of Yugoslavs in our hands has been completed it is impossible to say how many have fought under Italian or German command against the Allies.

    Major Beamish; Can the Minister say when this screening will be completed?

    Mr. McNeil; No, Sir. I am afraid I could not say any more than that we have assembled personnel and we will go ahead with the screening as quickly as possible, but it is a complex and intricate matter and I would not like to offer a date when it will be ended.

    Sir Arthur Salter; Will the right hon. Gentleman say whether every possible step is being taken to diminish the risk that Yugoslavs who would not in our sense be regarded as war criminals are sent back and treated as such?

    Mr. McNeil; I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman can be certain that we have been alive to these risks at all times and have taken all steps in our power to safeguard against them.

    Mr. Bramall; Can the right hon. Gentleman also ensure that we do not also run the risk of appearing to protect people who often fought against their own people under German and Italian command?

    Mr. McNeil; The concern is one which I understand, but the hon. Gentleman can be assured that where there is a prima facie case made against any of these individuals and where the case has been established we will take the necessary action."

    Kind regards, always,

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  13. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    Some more from the album, first one has writing on the back, the others that follow don't.

    Given the lie of the land, tents, olive trees, I would think it is likely Eboli in the south of Italy, but have not discounted (given previous posts) that it may be Edolo in the North.

    Hopefully between vitellino and MarkN (and any other Italy and cyrillic experts who may happen upon this thread) the location will be cracked.

    The link between the photos here and the couple of posts that follow is the chap with the mop of luxuriant dark hair (he appears in many of the photos throughout the album), and his journey from (I think) Serbia, to Italy, Germany, and then the UK. Hopefully we'll have his name one day.

    Kind regards, always,


    POST WAR various 9 a FRONT.jpg

    POST WAR various 9 BACK.jpg

    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 1.jpg

    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 2.jpg
  14. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    These next ones seem likely to be Germany (Munster maybe?), but given the weather it could easily be Edolo (I guess folks did possibly get moved from Eboli to Edolo en route to Germany).

    Our dark haired chap looking a little older.

    Kind regards, always,


    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 3.jpg

    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 4.jpg

    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 5.jpg
  15. JimHerriot

    JimHerriot Ready for Anything

    And now the UK. Almost certain the dark haired chap would have arrived via the "Westward Ho!" scheme, working towards a new life, and the recovery of post-war Britain.

    And, at least amongst these we have some sort of a location clue, but then again, sacks travel, as do humans.

    One for the Home Counties members to have a look at, hopefully they'll be able to add to this.

    Kind regards, always,


    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 6.jpg

    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 7.jpg

    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 8.jpg

    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 9.jpg

    POST WAR various NO WRITING ON BACK 9 enlarged.jpg

    Below is all I've come up with re Chaney & Son Corn Merchants, photo courtesy of "Uxbridge From Old Photographs".

    CHANEY & SONS.jpg
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2021
  16. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    I think the flag in the third photo is for the Kingdom of Yugoslavia as below:


    Possibly home-made given the central feature is indecipherable.
    From: Flag of Yugoslavia - Wikipedia
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  17. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    I would suggest ignoring all thoughts about the camp at Edolo here. Whilst it is quite true that Yugoslav POWs were held there during the war, my reading of the text was wonky. The pictures you have posted refer to Eboli.

    My mistake.

  18. MarkN

    MarkN Banned

    After my initial howler that has caused confusion, it's probably better I don't do any more code breaking.

    However, several of the photos seem to have been given to a junior-sergeant called Nedeljko Antić. It is impossible to say whether he is pictured in any or whether he was the owner of the album. Several of the pictures refer to Eboli camp in Italy.

    I imagine the best way to get some definitive answers on who is who and perhaps some backstory to the individuals would be to go through the custodians of the website mentionned earlier (eboli.org.au) as there is clear overlap in that part of the story.

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