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pantry vs larder Options
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 5:37:27 AM

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Such a funny house! There were yards and yards of sandy passages, leading to storerooms and nut-cellars and seed-cellars, all amongst the roots of the hedge.
There was a kitchen, a parlour, a pantry, and a larder.

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, 1910, by Beatrix Potter

I wonder if there is much difference between the two.

And if there was difference then, then what was it?

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 6:04:41 AM

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I think the difference would have been that a larder is a cool room for storing food, and a pantry is a smaller more immediate food storage area in the kitchen (a cupboard or small room area) for non-spoiling food and utensils.

You would store food, including hanging meat, in a cool larder. North-facing if possible, with good ventilation to keep it dry. Things you would refrigerate now. Whereas a pantry would easily accessible from the kitchen and would be general storage.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 6:14:39 AM

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Thank you very much!

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 6:15:18 AM

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Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
lazarius wrote:
Such a funny house! There were yards and yards of sandy passages, leading to storerooms and nut-cellars and seed-cellars, all amongst the roots of the hedge.
There was a kitchen, a parlour, a pantry, and a larder.

The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse, 1910, by Beatrix Potter

I wonder if there is much difference between the two.

And if there was difference then, then what it was?


That is the modern usage for a pantry or larder they are used as synonyms.
But in a Victorian or Edwardian British country house they had different meanings.
A larder was a room in the house that had thick stone walls, thick stone shelves made of a material like marble or slate that was relatively cold. It was a storage and preparation area for meat, cheese, butter, milk and similar products in the days before fridges.
The one at Dunster Castle in Somerset needs repairs.

A pantry was a room that was used to store fine china, plates and glassware and to clean them .

Now as I have already said they are often used now as a term for a food storage area or as the name of a restaurant.
One in you searches Old Skool Pantry is near me.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 6:29:03 AM

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Joined: 8/27/2016
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Location: Kotel’niki, Moskovskaya, Russia
Sarrriesfan wrote:

Prosciutto, pepperoni, salsa ... Is there anything English left in England? :)

Thanks for your answer.

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 6:58:43 AM

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Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
lazarius wrote:
Sarrriesfan wrote:

Prosciutto, pepperoni, salsa ... Is there anything English left in England? :)

Thanks for your answer.


Bedfordshire the county Luton is in housed many Italian POWs during WW2, many of them stayed here afterwards there is even an Italian Consulate in Bedford.
But never fear next door is a proper chippy.
Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 7:58:52 AM

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Sarrriesfan wrote:
But never fear next door is a proper chippy.

Yes, fish n' chips is great! If they had duff I would come over. :)

Posted: Wednesday, February 24, 2021 8:25:06 AM

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It happened in a few other places as well, such as North Wales
THere is a beautiful Italian chapel in a nissen hut on Orkney, as well.

Fascinating pictures have emerged of a chapel built by Italian prisoners of war in a Welsh village.

More than 1,200 Italians captured in Libya and Tunisia arrived in Henllan north Wales in 1942 and were held in huts and sheds.

Their camp was equipped with a hospital, theatres, football pitches, tennis courts, a bowling green and kitchens.

Many of the Italians were deeply religious and asked military bosses if they could build a Roman Catholic church in one of the huts in the camp, Wales Online reported .

Stunning images show the inside of the church which is all that remains of the camp and was decorated entirely by the prisoners.

The chapel was created inside this hut by prisoners (Image:

They show stunning religious paintings painted by prisoner, Mario Ferlito, who taught himself to paint when he family were unable to pay for him to go to art school.

Also pictured is the painted dome above the altar and murals on ceiling beams, which still look stunning despite being more than 70 years old.

Mario's incredible images were painted using whatever materials and supplies he could find around the camp.

Boiled fish bones were used as an adhesive to bond and preserve the paint that was pigmented with fruit, vegetables, tobacco and tea leaves to create a range of colours.

Painted medallions adorn the chapel (Image:

Mario left the camp at the end of the war but 30 years later he was astonished to be told by children the chapel was still there by schoolchildren when he visited the village in 1977. reported when he saw the chapel again he said: "Through the rainbow of my tears, I see the days of my youth opening in front of me like the pages of a book.”

John Meirion Jones is an 84-year-old retired headmaster and author living near Pentregat, Ceredigion, who became lifelong friends with Mario after the trip.

Scrolled woodwork on the columns at the side of the chapel (Image:
Mr Jones said: "He didn’t learn about it from books or TV, he learned from 11-year-old Welsh schoolchildren.

“His wife said that Mario was in tears for twenty minutes when he found out the church was still there (in 1977)."

Mr Jones said the relationship between the Italian prisoners and the local community during the war was “very emotional and friendly situation".

Many of them lived with local farmers, tending their land for the five years they spent in Wales.

The prisoners didn't have any money of their own so they made jewellery to trade with the residents of Henllan, some of which Mr Jones has in his home.

In 1977, 15 of the ex-prisoners came back to Wales.

The painted dome above the altar showing iconic religious scene, The Last Supper (Image:

An Italian POW made this bracelet using threepenny bits, it was given in payment of repair for a pair of boots (Image:
Members of the community went to greet them at Heathrow Airport in London and brought them back to Henllan.

They were taken to the church where they had an emotional reunion with the farmers they used to work for and villagers they bonded with

“The farmers were hugging them and crying. They were meeting each other for the first time in 30 years,” Mr Jones said.

In the following decades, Mr Jones went to Italy to see Mario 12 times and the Italians returned to Henllan a further five times.

An Italian inscription above the door to the chapel, which translates means: "To the sacred heart of Jesus, path, truth and life of all people. The Italian prisoners, as a proof of faith" (Image:
Mario Ferlito passed away in 2009 but Mr Jones is still in contact with his daughter, Sonia.

The legacy of Mario and the prisoners of Henllan lives on in the community .

One ex-prisoner fell in love with Wales so much that he returned after the war, settled here and now his family run a successful farm and Italian restaurant near the old site of the camp.

The La Calabria restaurant near Ffostrasol is even run by Gino or Tony Vasami, the son and grandson of one of the ex-prisoners at Henllan.

This is part of the memoire of an Italian POW who was at a camp in the Orkneys.

"Once in Liverpool there was a selection process."

I happened to be in a group directed to Edinburgh. Others were sent to other destinations.

I was separated from my close friend Gino Corsi, so when we parted I divided the only 100 lire note I had in two parts and I told him, “If we are ever going to be lucky enough to find each other again, we will go out for dinner with our parents.”

"I still have my half note; when we met again we could only buy an ice cream with 100 lire."

In Edinburgh we stayed in a former school for deaf-mutes for about three weeks to go through medical checks, to be registered with passport size photos and to receive the same uniforms as the British soldiers.

The only difference was that ours were chocolate-coloured and featured three red circles. A big circle was sewn on the back of the jacket, the two smaller ones were on the right thigh and on the left calf.

Under the three red patches there were three holes with the purpose of avoiding the patches themselves being removed.

Despite the colour and the patches, I have to say that the outfit was better than the one given to us at the barracks in Naples, not least because they gave socks instead of strips of cloth.

Eventually, thanks to the Red Cross, we were allowed to send a letter to our families who, from January 1941 to January 1942, had had no idea what had happened to us.

We were warned to be brief in our letters, otherwise they would have been censored.

I remember the content of my letter. Afraid that the censor would trash it, I only wrote:

“I’m alive, I’m well and I embrace you."

~ Coriolano

Once done with formalities, we were embarked on a ship in Aberdeen and sent to the Orkney Islands, off the north of Scotland.

We were coming from North Africa and had to face the harsh climate of Orkney.

"The impact cannot be described."

My contingent, made up of 530 men, was allocated to camp 34 on the island of Burray.

The other contingent of 500 men was allocated on the island of Lamb Holm.

"The British commandant of our camp was Major Yates."

The internal commandant was Marshal Bertone, who immediately had to organize the working squads as well as the camp staff.

I was lucky to be amongst the group of 15 men (along with chefs, two orderly room men, a nurse, a barber and a cobbler) who, once free from their specific tasks, had to look after the good running of the camp, keeping it clean and buying the food.

Apart from that, I was in a well-organised “band” that put on stage shows to lift our comrades’ moods amid the hard working conditions.

My friend Primiano Malavolti was part of the company despite walking with a limp.

I will say it again; I was lucky. The work others were assigned to do was exhausting and dangerous, besides being uncomfortable because of the weather.

Filling a bolster with rock in North Burray. The wire netting lines the skip and is laced together over the rock to form a closed bag which is tipped into the waters from the overhead cableway.
Courtesy of Orkney Library & Archive
We found out that the purpose of this work was to close off the accesses to Scapa Flow after a German U-boat in 1939, thanks to the tide, had been able break through the former defences, torpedoing and sinking the ship Royal Oak and causing 830 [835] deaths amongst the sailors.

Mr Churchill, who at the time was First Lord of Admiralty, ordered that the four sea straits between the five islands be closed off.

"We realised that these were works of war-like nature, so we appealed to the Geneva Convention and declared a strike, refusing to go to work."

Unfortunately, we were punished for this and were fed only bread and water. A normal meal would come only every four days.

The guards would often burst into our huts at night, forcing us to get up and go out so they could carry out inspections inside.

This would often happen several times during the same night.

After about 20 days of this atmosphere, an International Red Cross Committee arrived at the camp to communicate to us that the works at the barriers were not of war-like nature.

They were part of the plan to build causeways to facilitate the transportation of goods and people across the smaller islands to the capital, Kirkwall.

Not all of us believed what we were told but, despite that, we all decided that we’d better resume our work.

After this turbulent episode, our relationship with the British command and their men improved and became less strict.

A few of my comrades fell psychologically ill, some were homesick, and others fell sick because of the hard working conditions or because of the weather.

In order not to fall victim of depression myself (I considered myself lucky already for not being sent to work at the barriers), I made sure I kept myself busy as much as I could.

Along with working on the maintenance of the camp, I organized shows and played the drum in the band. Some instruments were donated to us by locals, others were provided by Major Yates, who was happy that the troubles at the works were over.

I tried to engage the spare time I had by learning English. I started by myself with a modest book I found at the camp outlet, The English Language in Three Months.

Once finished, I realised I hadn’t learnt much.

I had the idea to ask the military chaplain of the camp, Don Luigi Borsarelli, who was available, to give lessons to illiterate soldiers. Not only did he agree to help me but he also lent me £10 to purchase a grammar book, a dictionary, etc.

He had me sign a receipt with the commitment to give him the borrowed money back once we returned to Italy.

When I got back to Italy, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the loan had been a present from the very beginning.

"With the time passing, life at the camp got organised in a way that made our forced stay less tough."

We used to be paid with symbolic currency, spendable only in our outlet where necessary goods were sold: pens, pencils, paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap bars, razor blades, candies, etc.

No alcoholic drinks.

There were also table tennis, playing cards, draughts and a radio where we could listen to music and to war bulletins in English.

Moreover, our skilled craftsmen built a billiard table with concrete. The cloth for the top was made with blankets, which had been made smooth by rubbing them with razor blades. The pins were brilliantly made with toothbrush handles. The balls were made of concrete.

We could only play with the balls because we didn’t have the cues. We tried with broomsticks but stopped after few attempts.

During an inspection Major Yates was fascinated by our craftsmen’s skills. After a few days he donated real balls and a pair of cues.

A concrete billiards table made by WWII POWs from Italy in Scotland's Orkney Islands.
Courtesy of Orkney Library & Archive

"The hard work at the barriers proceeded well."

Our men got qualified and many obtained positions of responsibility as drivers and crane operators. One of them became assistant to a civilian who was responsible for the electric power station that supplied energy to the four cableways and the two camps.

Despite the harsh weather, the works went on.

The 5 and 10 ton concrete blocks were built and stocked up waiting to be used. The superintendents to the construction company were happy with the works and the Commandant of the camp didn’t have any further problems.

Life in the camp became, let’s say, easier, except for the few episodes that normally happen when a lot of people are forced to live together and not everybody is able to tolerate each other.

"The news on the radio bulletins was worrying."

We were being defeated on all fronts. Some of us would reply that it was just the English propaganda.

Nevertheless, in May 1943 the radio announced that the Italian-German forces in North Africa had capitulated. Then the allied invasion of Sicily in July.

That was not English propaganda at all!

We received shocking news on the 25th July 1943. After 21 years of holding power in Italy, Mussolini had received a vote of no confidence from the Great Fascist Counsel and the King had taken charge of our Army.

The news left us astonished and soon after we began to fear that in Italy a civil war might soon spread out.

There were some Black Shirts amongst us who were convinced it was high treason, therefore they stupidly started talking about taking revenge once back in Italy.

After work, we used to be stuck next to the radio trying to understand what the English war bulletin said.

It was the beginning of 1944 and we heard the words Sangro River, Garigliano, Gustav Line, Monte Cassino.

Terrible moments. We were all worried about our loved ones.

I personally got a big shock when I heard the news of the invasion of Anzio. The area of Littoria had become a front line.

What was happening to my family? I would almost feel guilty because, unlike them, I was safe.

One day in April 1944 we got the order to gather in the canteen. Major Yates announced that the Badoglio Government along with the British Government had decided to make us an offer.

We couldn’t be repatriated because the German troops were still occupying our land. Whilst waiting to be repatriated, we were free to form an “Italian Labour Battalion” with the following rules.

We would wear a uniform identical to the ones worn by the English soldiers, without the much-hated red patches, featuring the Italian flag and the word “Italy” written on the shoulders.

We would no longer be escorted by armed guards on our way to work. Instead we would be under one of our non-commissioned officer’s responsibility.

We would be paid with normal currency, spendable even outside the camp.

We had free time from 18:00 to 21:00. Sunday we had the whole day off.

There were also some restrictions. We couldn’t go further than 5 miles away from the camp; we couldn’t use public transport, go to pubs and have relationships with women.

Whoever decided not to accept these conditions would continue to be considered a POW with the same treatment as before and be transferred to another camp.

"We were given two hours to decide."

I had no hesitation in accepting the new offer because we had always worked and this way we could continue to work, but with better treatment.

It is painful to remember that some of the friends we had lived in harmony with for years decided to leave.

Instead of saying goodbye to us in a fraternal way, they shouted from the truck, “Traitors! Jersey-sellers!"

Some of us shouted back, “Dirty fascists!”

What a shame. It was such a painful episode.

"Many things improved because of this new situation."

We organised football matches against teams of English soldiers, and track and field competitions.

I came first in high jump.

"I would like to tell of an episode worth being recalled."

It isn’t about me. It involves instead my friend Primiano Malavolti, the one I shared the bunk bed with and with whom I had created a duo to perform comedy jokes every Saturday night.

Primiano was part of the camp staff, too, and therefore exempted from the works because of a serious injury to his right leg. He had been walking on a knotty stick for the past two years. He was very popular. The English guards called him “Shipwreck.”

When we had the athletic day, we were all surprised to see “Shipwreck” entering the field to compete against the others. He excelled in several disciplines. At the end of each competition, his name was always among those called on stage to receive the prize. He even won the cup as best athlete in the field.

At the end of each competition, Major Yates had to shake Malavolti’s hand.

When we came back to our hut, an English sergeant walked in and shouted, “Shipwreck to the commandant! Come on!”

Primiano reluctantly got up and sighed. “Bloody hell, I knew it!”

He followed the sergeant and came back after about 30 minutes. We were all keen to know what happened.

He told us that he had entered the Major’s office and greeted him. The Major, without saying a word, had given him a card. He showed it to me, asking what it meant.

On the card there was only one word: “QUARRY.”

I translated it for him.

“Dear Primiano, you are screwed. Tomorrow morning you’ll have to get up at 6 and go to work at the quarry.”

He even had the courage to get angry because he thought it was not fair!

Some of our friends told him that if he had been in a concentration camp, the word on the card would have been “OVEN.”

"Thanks to the free time, we could get in contact with the locals."

We became friends with them and I met the Wylie family.

They invited me over for a cup of tea one day. We talked at length and when I left they reiterated the invitation: “Come again! Come again!”

I didn’t take advantage of that further invitation as I was quite shy, but one evening I bumped into Mr Wylie, who had come all the way to outside the camp gate.

He told me off. “What’s wrong with you? Why did you not pay a visit to us? Have you been ill?”

I replied that I didn’t want to be intrusive. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Don’t be silly! Come on!”

His wife Ina welcomed me in a warm way and we all had a lovely dinner together.

I was so touched by their openness because we had been considered with mistrust and hatred for so many years. The way they treated me made me regain confidence in human nature.

"The evening before we left Orkney (April 1945) I went to say goodbye to my friends."

I left them the £3 that I hadn’t spent to purchase the books.

They promised to send the money to my Italian address. And they did it. We kept on corresponding for several years.

When I came back to Orkney for the first time in 1992 I went to look for them but I was told that unfortunately they were both dead.

The reason I left that small amount of money with them was because of the past experiences I had.

Every time we were transferred from one camp to another (Egypt, South Africa and Great Britain), we used to be thoroughly inspected, mainly to prevent us from carrying knives or other weapons.

"Unfortunately not all the soldiers behaved correctly when inspecting us."

Some of them took advantage of our precarious situation to take our money, our watches, our wedding rings and even our wallets, which often contained the pictures of our beloveds.

I don’t hold resentment to anybody. We were at war and we were their enemy in their eyes.

"Good people and bad people can be found in every country."

Speaking of that, I had the chance to read a book written by an English soldier who was captured by the Italian troops and interned in a prison camp in Italy.

I don’t remember his name but I remember the title of the book: And the Sun Stood Still.

I could have written that book by changing only the dates and the places; we both had the same good and bad experiences.

All British officials in charge of the camps where I’ve been, like Colonel Buckland or Major Yates, have always acted in a human and tolerant way.

"I was unlucky to meet one official who was in charge of a transit camp."

When we arrived, it was raining. We were ordered to remain in silence in the ground whilst waiting for the commandant, who made us wait for a long period.

When he finally arrived, holding his stick under his arm, he stepped onto a wooden stage and welcomed us with the following words:

“I hate you! On my office door there is a board with the instructions to follow during your stay here. Read them and follow them scrupulously. Those who won’t do as ordered will be in trouble. That’s all!”

We didn’t have billets - only straw beds on the floor and three blankets that, according to the rules on the board, had to be perfectly folded and aligned.

During the day we were forced to hang around in the grounds because it was forbidden to enter the dormitory. It made no difference if it rained or not.

Luckily that was only a transit camp and after few days we left it, along with its “arrogant and heroic” commandant.

I wonder…maybe he was brother to that Italian official we met on the ship?

I was transferred along with a few friends to a camp near the town of Heywood, under the control of RAF (Royal Air Force). We were sent to work in an important establishment called 35 Maintenance Unit.

I must say that my life as a prisoner changed a lot here, because the men forced to work were only about 100, all younger than us and captured in Sicily. They wouldn’t speak English because they hadn’t studied it, nor had they had 5 years experience of imprisonment like we had.

"Something happened one day as I asked for a medical check up."

Along with other comrades, I was sent to an English military doctor. Whilst he was checking me out, he was struck by my command of the English and immediately got hold of the phone and called my camp.

“How come you have a soldier who speaks perfect English and you always send over men who are not even able to explain what they have? Do something!”

The official interpreter of the camp was a civilian, but from that day on I got exempted from work to be assigned to this new task.

"Unfortunately, I was involved in a seriously unpleasant episode again."

As I said, the camp was not as crowded as the previous ones. It was located in the outskirts of Heywood, whose inhabitants would treat us in a civilised way.

We were not monitored by armed guards as before, but were managed by our non-commissioned officers. The commandant was a senior Italian marshal.

Considering the past experiences, including living inside overcrowded camps in Egypt, South Africa and Orkney under the constant surveillance of armed guards, this was for us a godsend.

The only problem that afflicted everybody was the insufficient and poor quality of the food.

Our comrades kept on telling us that it was no use to complain because the marshal would have answered, “This is what the English government passes.”

As I had been exempted from work to escort patients to their medical checks, I could spend the whole day in the camp, so I had the opportunity to see certain abnormalities that I hadn’t noticed before.

Our non-commissioned officials would have their meals inside a hut, which was separated from ours. During the imprisonment, that “caste” would benefit from the canteen with two waiters.

There was a squad of three carpenters who worked in a hut that had been turned into a lab and ... they would make furniture there ?!

Basically I found that the civilian who worked as an interpreter, leagued with our superiors, would deal with the selling; therefore he would turn a blind eye to the personnel management issues.

I would like to stress the fact that the British commandant was outside our camp, far away from us. Because the RAF camp was so vast, he would trust our superiors (although it is difficult for me to call them that) to manage us.

One morning the military doctor, whom I had formed a sort of friendship with, told me that he couldn’t explain why there were so many check up requests.

I replied that it was the British government’s fault, as they didn’t feed us enough.

He replied, surprised, “What did you say? You get the same rations that our men have!”

I briefly told him what I had noticed and I suggested he make an inspection of our canteen and our kitchen during mealtimes, without failing to inspect the “private restaurant” and “the carpenters lab.”

Two days later, the doctor came in with the commandant and two other officials.

Followed by our marshal, they came into our canteen, walked through the kitchen and then went to the hut where our non-commissioned officers had their canteen.

It became like a spaghetti-western scene. We saw tables, chairs, plates and other crockery being thrown out the hut followed by shouts in English.

Once the English officers left, some men attacked our officials and there were punches and kicks.

The officers eventually managed to call the English commandant on the phone and he immediately sent a troop of armed guards to stop the riot.

The official in charge wanted to know the reason for the riot and obviously he asked the civilian, as official interpreter of the camp.

At this point everybody pushed me forward. “You speak, otherwise that guy will tell him only what suits himself!”

I had to report about what had happened regarding the poor quality of our food, the canteen for our non-commissioned officers, the furniture being built in secret then sold and ultimately the official interpreter who had allowed all that to happen.

The interpreter came to me in rage. “You are a liar!”

I replied, “You and your dishonest NCO’s have organised at our expense a damned gang of thieves!”

In order to avoid further chaos, the camp remained under the surveillance of armed guards for two days.

The third day, a couple of jeeps came to pick up the six non-commissioned officers and transfer them elsewhere.

Things got back to normal, our meals improved and we all resumed our respective work waiting to be repatriated.

"In Heywood there was a Roman Catholic Church."

We started frequenting it and made new friends.

I met Ernest Goldsmith and we became friends. He introduced me to one of his friends who had just been discharged from military service.

His name was Ernest Porter. He had basically been my direct enemy because he had been among the troops of the eighth army that defeated us in Bardia on the 2nd January 1941.

Whilst I got captured and sent to Egypt, he kept on fighting until the landing at Anzio and Rome’s liberation.

We became friends, he introduced me to his family, his wife Betty and three daughters: Betty, Helen and Margaret.

"Finally we received the order for our much-awaited repatriation in mid April 1946."

We said our farewells to our friends in Heywood. We embarked at Glasgow docks and arrived at Naples Harbour.

We were transferred to barracks in Rome, and then finally headed to Latina by train. (The town had changed its name in the meantime.)

"I’m going to recount another worthwhile episode."

I got on the first bus heading for Sabaudia. During the journey the ticket inspector wanted me to get off the bus, as I didn’t have a ticket.

I tried in vain to explain that I didn’t have any money on me, as I was going back home after being at war and in prison for the past six years.

He insisted that I was just finding an excuse, but he had to give up when the other passengers threatened to throw him out of the window. He finished the conversation by saying: “… well, it’s ok for this time.”

What an idiot! Did he maybe think that I was a veteran by profession??

The bus took a long route through Pontinia and dropped me off at the cross Migliara 48 because the Rio Martino bridge had been mined and blown up by the Germans in retreat.

"I walked home."

We hugged and cried with joy, after six years and three months of forced and dangerous absence.

The news about my arrival filled the house with relatives and friends who came in to celebrate my repatriation.

After few days of rest, I started looking for a job.

I wrote to my English and Scottish friends to communicate my return home and my new address. I received the £3 that I had left to the Wylies. Our correspondence lasted for several years.

In 1951, Ernest Goldsmith came to my wedding with my beloved Amalia. During the ceremony he played the organ. My friend, singer Antonio Raponi, sang the Ave Maria.

Twenty years later, Ernest Porter retired and came to have a holiday in Rimini with his wife, Betty. Amalia and I went to see them.

Our meeting was so full of emotion, seeing each other after so many years ….

Amalia and I agreed on inviting them to come to Latina and be our guests whenever they decided to have their vacations in Italy.

They accepted, so for years they were our guests along with their daughters, their sons in law and their grandchildren. So were we at their place with our family.

Italian prisoners of war return to Orkney as friends.
Courtesy of Gareth Wardell
Considering the horrors of war, causing deaths and hatred in any population, my ex enemy and I pondered over a glass of wine many times:

“To think…I could have killed you!”

My two friends and their wives are now dead, but I’m still in touch with their descendants.


I forgot to mention the construction of the Italian Chapel, still existent and used for worship on the island of Lamb Holm (Camp 60), built and painted by my dear friend Domenico Chiocchetti, an artist from Moena.


this is the Italian chapel from the camp on Orkney

From the Irish Times
(with a bit more of an agenda)

The untold story of Britain’s POW camps
Immigration is a huge issue in Britain but during WWII almost half a million enemy POWs became part of local communities
Fri, Jul 28, 2017, 11:10

Talk of immigration, and immigrants, is never far from the news in post-Brexit Britain. But two generations ago, at the height of the second World War, immigration – from enemy territories, to boot – was both incredibly common and barely remarked upon.

Between 1939 and 1945, Britain was home to more than 400,000 prisoners of war from Italy, the Ukraine and Germany. They were housed in hundreds of camps around the country, with five sites in Northern Ireland.

Prisoners wore old uniforms with black patches sewn on the legs and backs – allegedly, morbidly, to be used as targets should a prisoner try to flee. In many camps, ardently pro-fascist captives were required to wear black armbands denoting their propensity to continue to “fight the war” from behind enemy lines.

Far from increasing hostility towards the Axis nations, this “foreign invasion” had the effect of enhancing mutual understanding and bringing out the best of the British
In practice, escape attempts were relatively uncommon. But in March 1945, in a plan that bears remarkable similarity to the Great Escape, a group of 56 Germans did abscond from a camp in south Wales. Sophie Jackson’s record of the time, Churchill’s Unexpected Guests, tells how the escapees had stockpiled food and provisions and built a 20-yard long tunnel whose entrance was hidden in an accommodation hut. There’s no evidence that anyone “borrowed” a motorbike, Steve McQueen style, but they certainly eluded police cordons and stole cars and bicycles to get as far away as they could. All were eventually recaptured.

For the most part, however, the prisoners were content with their version of British life, turning their camps into temporary homes, and sometimes building chapels and other memorials to life in their homelands. One group of Italians built a monument to Marconi which remained in situ until the early 1980s. The Geneva Convention ensured that POWs in all countries were treated fairly, receiving the same rations as ground troops, and there was a definite sense that German POWs should be looked after so that the German authorities had no reason to mistreat British prisoners in camps on German soil.

In order to impede any potential escapes, POWs were paid not in British currency but with “camp money”, paper and plastic facsimiles which they earned for undertaking camp labour. However, somewhat inevitably, a thriving alternate industry sprang up. Willi Bungart is a German POW who was captured aged 17 and spent four years in a number of British POW camps. He recalls making toys one Christmas to sell to British families, who they met whilst at work or by attending work. Church, which the POWs were allowed to attend alongside the English congregation, was particularly lucrative for such swaps.

Bungart’s memories of his time as a POW are largely positive; he was young and healthy, made friends and was treated well. His daughter, Sabine, writes that, she “got the impression that it was all a great adventure”. No need, then, for it to become a great escape.

POWs who were considered to be “benign” were given the opportunity to earn “proper” money by working outside the camps. They were paid a fair wage for this work and many took the opportunity to save for a future outside the camps. The prisoners worked alongside locals and “lumberjills” – members of the Women’s Timber Corps – bringing in the harvest and helping with the timber management: “None of us liked the sugar-beet harvest,” remembers Gloucestershire man Humphrey Phelps in his book on wartime life, “but the Italians talked and laughed as they worked and occasionally burst into song.”

Even local men and women whose loved ones were away fighting in the war and who were initially mistrustful of the “enemy” in their midst often found that this antipathy wore off once they’d spent some time working alongside POWs. It wasn’t uncommon for friendships to be struck up and for POWs to be invited into civilians’ homes for Christmas lunch. In Scotland, one farmer requested that the Italian POWs working on his farm be given permission to live in one of his outbuildings rather than have to make the long trek back to camp at antisocial hours.

In the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, Italian POWs became a part of the community. The prisoners formed a football team which played in a local league, and were given the use of a local team’s ground for their matches rather than requiring they be played on their scrubbier parade grounds. The locals attending these matches were taken aback by the Italians’ habit of piping music across the pitch through a Tannoy. Many Italians forged lifelong bonds and for decades afterwards would visit local families whose generosity they remembered with fondness. Some even settled in Britain permanently.

Far from increasing hostility towards the Axis nations, this “foreign invasion” had the effect of enhancing mutual understanding and bringing out the best of the British. As Humphrey Phelps says, “Technically (the incomers) were enemies, but really they were our friends.” A sentiment that, in current times, we could all do well to hold dear.
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