Research on South African POWs in the Italian camp 122 (Cinecittà)

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Pangloss, Mar 10, 2020.

  1. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    Dear friends of WW2 Talk,

    I am an Italian documentary filmmaker and international researcher.

    I'm currently writing an essay on a Fascist propaganda movie called "Harlem" shot in Rome in which South African prisoners of war (Native Military Corps) were used as extras.

    I'm trying to find any kind of records about this story and the camp no.122 near Cinecittà (film studios based in Rome) where these South African POWs were detained from the Spring 1942 to Spring 1943. I was wondering if maybe someone of this forum did research about this topic and where I can find the entire list of the prisoners of this camp in order maybe to find out something further like memoirs, books or other sources (see the example attached from which I don't know the source). I had two reports written by the International Red Cross but there's no the list, just the name of two camp leaders: Henry Suestane and Bernard Rakeepile.

    Before "Harlem", South African POWs were used for a nazi propaganda movie called "Germanin - Bayer 205", filmed in Cinecittà and Babelsberg in Berlin.

    Other matter. I read an article on Time Magazine (August 1944) that tells about the boxing match between the Italian Primo Carnera and the South African prisoner Kay Masaki for propaganda purpose. It seems there are another sources about this match: "Spingobok" (South African Veterans' Journal, 71, march/apil 1988) and another article published two days before Time an Icelandic newspaper owned by the Allies. Someone has news about Kay Masaki?

    Thank you.

    Luca Martera

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 10, 2020
  2. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    POW TP Smallman - not found on the image you attached

    Are you sure about his details - I ask as there is in the German POW database
    UK, British Prisoners of War, 1939-1945
    Name: D P Smallman
    Rank: Pte
    Army Number: 186152
    POW Number: 28770
    Camp Type: Oflag
    Camp Number: O5A
    Camp Location: Weinberg (Wurtemburg), Germany
    Section: South African Land Forces : Officers and Other Ranks

  3. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    No, I'm not. I attached this page because I read camp 122 but probably it was not in Italy in this case.
  4. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    The image you have attached looks very much like the original database for Allied POW's in Italian camps, but the page you show is alphabetically too soon for Smallman

  5. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    I posted because I don't know yet this source. Of course, I'm new on this forum and so I would appreciate a lot if you send me the link of this original database for Allied POW's in Italian camps. Thanks.
  6. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I dont have an actual copy of it, some members on here do and also we have a few members who live in Italy, and I have contacted 1 of them. The official document is kept at The National Archives, Kew, London

    Section 1: British Army. Section 2: Australian Army. Section 3: Canadian Army. Section... | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 392/21
    Section 1: British Army. Section 2: Australian Army. Section 3: Canadian Army. Section 4: New Zealand Army. Section 5: South African Army. Section 6: Indian Army. Section 7: Naval Forces and Merchant Seamen. Section 8: Air Forces.
    This document is a compilation of lists of members of the Allied Forces who were reported by Italian or Red Cross sources as being prisoners in Italian hands, minus those known officially to have died in Italian hands. The document includes men listed who died as a POW at sea in 1942, and also some listed as being in Libyan camps or buried in Greece. Camp locations are given where men were last known to be, in most cases
    Date: 1943 Aug
    Separated material:
    For Section 9, see: WO 392/22
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)

    There is also
    Section 9: Miscellaneous: POWs in Italy; Palestinians, Cypriots, Mauritians, East... | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 392/22
    Section 9: Miscellaneous: POWs in Italy; Palestinians, Cypriots, Mauritians, East Africans, Cyrenaica Defence Force and Seychelles
    Date: 1943 Oct
    Separated material:
    For Sections 1-8, see: WO 392/21
    Held by: The National Archives, Kew
    Legal status: Public Record(s)

    We do have members who copy files from the TNA for a very reasonable cost and then send them to members, if you need that service just ask

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  7. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    I already wrote TNA in order to have a copy of the following reports:

    Prisoners of war, Italy: Camp 122, Cinecitta, near Rome; International Red Cross reports...
    Prisoners of war, Italy: Camp 122, Cinecitta, near Rome; International Red Cross reports... | The National Archives
    PG 122 Cinecitta, Italy: shooting of South African POW
    PG 122 Cinecitta, Italy: shooting of South African POW | The National Archives

    On this site
    There is the list you sent related link:
    Section 9: Miscellaneous: POWs in Italy; Palestinians, Cypriots, Mauritians, East... | The National Archives
    Reference: WO 392/22

    There's only one South African soldier detained in camp no.122. So, if there are members who can give me the full list of prisoners of Camp no.122, that works to me at a reasonable cost.
  8. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    Some of this duplicates the above but may help.

    The page you attached in your first post is from War Office document WO 392/21 "Imperial Prisoners of War held in Italy or Italian Occupied Territory". Your page is in section 5 which contains South African Army, later sections include South African Air Force.

    The document is available at The National Archives or
    Browse records of other archives | The National Archives
    Prisoners Of War 1715-1945 |
    The last two are subscription sites.

    The list does confirm Camp No. 122 (PM No. 3300) Rome, I have no idea what PM stands for.

    Looks like there are about 45 pages of South Africans but, as far as I can see, there is no facility for searching by camp number.
    The problem is that the National Archives page states August 1943, presumably there are/may be other lists for other periods.
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  9. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    Thank you for the links. I'll watch them later. PM is for postal military code.

    So far I succedeed to find just an excerpt from this memoir that I'd like to find the full version:

    october 1, 1945
  10. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    Forum member Trevor Smallamn has done a lot of research with Allied POWs held by the Italians. I am wondering if the file on post 1 has something to do with him rather than being an actual POW.
  11. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    As TD has said, the file page mention in post 1 probably comes from the document WO392/21, POWs held by the Italians as of August 1943. This file does contain alphabetical lists of South African Native Other Ranks, many of whom were held in Camp 122.
  12. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    Yes, I'm reading the full list on fold3:

    This guy was the camp leader in 1943: Rakeepile, B.

    WO 392 POW Lists 1943-1945
    21: Imperial Prisoners of War Held in Italy, Italian-Occupied Territory: British & Commonwealth Army
    Service Number

    There's not mention to the other camp leader of 1942 during the making of the nazi propaganda movie but it's a good start.

    Thank you.
  13. bamboo43

    bamboo43 Very Senior Member

    From the same file:

    Pte. Henry Suestane held at Camp 122. Service no. N/9310.
  14. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    I have seen it. Thank you.

    Now, I can try to google every name of these South African POWS in camp 122 and maybe if I'm lucky I might find something about their experience in the making of the propaganda movies I mentioned.
  15. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Buonasera Luca.

    First of all, I suggest you consult It has all the original Italian documentation relating to the camp.

    I have the list of black South Africans in WO 392/21 (National Archives, London) that you mention and will send it to your your email address, (which if I were you I would remove from your post). Unfortunately it is in surname order and not camp number order but there aren't many pages and you should be able to make a list of men held in PG 122 quite easily.

    I think that the boxer you refer to was referred to as K. Mayake on p. 42 in the above the register.

    PG 122 Cinecitta, Italy: shooting of South African POW. The South African in question was Private S. Khaje who is buried in Anzio Beachhead War Cemetery. You will see that he was shot after the Armistice. On this same cemetery sheet are two other S. Africans belonging to the Native Military Corps who died before the register was compiled. (As far as I am aware it is the only register.) You might find out something about their deaths in the Internation Red Cross Report you have sent for.

    Another death, considered to be a war crime, took place in camp PG 54 Passo Corese/Fara in Sabina on 7 December '43 when this camp was being used as a transit camp. The dead soldier, Private Cornelius Olifant, had previously been in in PG 122.

    A presto,


    Edited as I forgot the grave registration form

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Mar 10, 2020
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  16. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    Thank you for your message. I'm already in touch with where I checked out in my early phase of my research and it was a good starting point. Thank you for the listin advance and for your information about Mayake. For many scholars this boxing match was a myth not an historical fact.

    I also investigated on camp PG 54, but for my research POWs used as extras were detained only in the camp no.122

    Can you send me a message to my address? Thank you.
  17. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Here he is on WO 392/21. He was a white South African and was held in PG 47 at Modena, usually an officers' camp. This is presumably why he ended up in the officers' camp in Germany. I have a copy of the German Register - WO 392/1 Section 5 - and he is on it, details as in your post.


    PM stands for Posta MIlitare - Military Post. Italy was divided into postal regions by the Italian War Ministry.

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  18. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

  19. Tricky Dicky

    Tricky Dicky Don'tre member

    I have no idea who you should choose, but I would suggest that obviously you need if you are going to use one, a researcher that has a good deal of experience in military archives, its possible that many of these are straight forward genealogical researchers. How you determine their experience in military archives will be difficult.

    We do have members on here who I believe are based in South Africa, perhaps it might be an idea to start a new thread on the problem of military archive research in South Africa to see if they respond

    Pangloss likes this.
  20. Pangloss

    Pangloss Member

    Thank you. I'll do it tomorrow.

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