P.O.W.Camp 146 Mortara Pavia 3100

Discussion in 'Prisoners of War' started by Glynda Morrison, Oct 15, 2023.

  1. My father Jeffery Vernon Wood Rank Signaller - Service No. 4117 South African Army was P.O.W. taken at Tobruk, P.O.W. in above named camp. Escaped to Switzerland, (which I have details of ) Who do I contact with a view to visiting Camp 146 .
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  2. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Glynda,

    First of all, welcome. You've come to the right place as I probably know more about PG 146 than anyone else other than my friend Prof.Giuseppe Zucca whose book I have translated.

    PG 146 consisted of subcamps - the main camp at Mortara only served as a collection centre, after which the men were sent out to work detachments on farms. So the first thing to find out is which detatchment he was based in. His Escape Report should tell you, unless he only wrote 146, which some of the men did.

    In the same group of escapers as your father, all of whom reached Switzerland on the 28 January or the day after, were four men from detachment 146/1 at Castello d'Agogna. If your father was in this work detachment you are in luck, because that's where Prof. Zucca lives. There's nothing to be seen of the work detachment itself, but at least you would know something about where it was. I was there last January.

    With your father's group where was another South African escaper named Robert Stevenson-
    Brown who had been in work detachment 146/25 at Sant'Angelo Lomellina.

    Below I have posted the 'formulari' (plural) of each of the above four, that of Stevenson-Brown and that of your father too. A 'formulario' (singular) was a chit they were issued with and had to return to the guide who had taken them to the border. In all of these cases,and your father's, the guide had been provided through the association run by Giuseppe Baccagaluppi. You can read about Bacciagaluppi on my website https://escapetoswitzerland.webador.com
    28 01 44 k.h.sanders e.h.sanders.JPG 28 01 44 rothman  selwyn-smith.JPG 28 01 44 stevenson-brown  wood.JPG

    If I find any other South African who was in this group I will edit the post.


    Vitellino (Janet Kinrade Dethick)

    Edited to say that another South African - 251987 Private Loftus Gerard ROTHMAN, South African Corps of Signals - was also in PG 146/1 Castello d'Agogna and he too crossed over on 28 January 1944 but was with another group. I don't have a copy of his formulario, which was numbered A 509.
    (All the formulari are held in the Istituto Nazionale Ferruccio Parri (ex-Insmil) Fondo Bacciagaluppi, b4 fasc.20, Milan.)
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2023
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  3. Hello Vitellino,
    I am so very grateful for the information you have so kindly given me on my father. I knew two of the men named on the "chits" with my father. Ken and Eustace (aka Tots)Sanders who were from the same village as my father. I am still in touch with Carol Sanders (Tots' daughter) Unfortunately I do not have my fathers Escape Report and wondered if there was any way of obtaining this. Pease could you give me the title of Prof. Giuseppe Zucca's book that you have translated. With regards to the attached note, I remember my father telling me they were rowed across Lake Maggiore and by this note, landed in Brissago. This note was written by a schoolmaster who took them in for a while. The note was sent to my father's parents in Amatikulu in Zululand. Thereafter went to a camp in Dicken in St. Gallen 11th February 1944 and on to Adelboden 5th April.I am not sure whether this account of the escape is correct. If you could add to their escape route I would be most grateful.
    Many thanks again,

    Attached Files:

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  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Glynda,

    Thank you for posting the note and envelope.

    I sugggest you ask Lee Richards ( PsyWar.Org ) of arcre.com to obtain a copy of your father's report. You will need register first of all. The details you need to give him are:

    Signaller Jeffrey Vernon Wood 4117
    South African Signals
    Escape Reports Switzerland WO 208/4276
    Date 1943-4

    The report should give details of his escape route.
    The reports for the two Sanders can be ordered directly online from The National Archives but the names beginning with last letters of the alphabet (from Wi to Z) - your father's for example - have not yet been extracted at item level and you need the help of a researcher.
    The codes for the Sanders are:

    Eustace: WO 208/4268/101
    Kenneth: WO 208/4268/105

    The book I translated is entitled Prisoners of War in the Lomellina and is the story of three South Africans from PG 146/3 Ferrera Erbognone who were helped by Prof. Zucca's mother. It gives a lot of detail about the camp in general. You can obtain a copy from Lulu.com.

    Let us all know how you get on,

    Vitellino (Janet)
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  5. Cpl Hadaway

    Cpl Hadaway Active Member

    A very long shot, but there's at least one South African POW on this photograph of a group of PG 146 POWs. Web site caption says they were escapers, but it's also possible the photo was taken during their time at one of the work farm detachments prior to their escape to Switzerland:

    Pte Evan Darlington & Fellow POW Escapers

    See also this page for an image of a July 1943 card sent from PG 146 from Pte Evan Darlington, 4470373, 16 DLI.

    PG 146 Italian POW Card 1943

    And this image of hus Swiss Internment camp address:

    Pte E Darlington Swiss Internment Camp Address
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  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thank you. I have already seen the card. Prof. Zucca put it in his book, and correctly suggests that Pte Darlington was being held in PG 146/27 at Cava Manara, borne out by his escape report, WO 208/4247/22, which also shows that he was registered as having arrived in Switzerland on 15 October 1943.

    The photo is very interesting indeed. It shows a summer scene and I doubt very much that it was in the Italian hills. Escapers 'in the Italian hills', who got across the Alps in October 1943 like Pte Darlington, didn't hang around in the sunshine, lightly clad and smiling, having their photographs taken! They were too busy looking over their shoulders to see it they were being followed by the Nazi-fascists or had been betrayed. I think it dates from July/August 1943 before the armistice, and the girl would have been living on one of the farms on which they were employed.

    In the Cava Manara area of the Lomellina, near to the river Po, there were huge fields of tall forage, and the harvesters moved from farm to farm during the haymaking season. It seems highly probable to me that the prisoners were used for this work.

    However, if they were all escapers rather than prisoners it could have been taken in the summer of 1944 in Switzerland. This possibility could be supported by the fact that there appear to be no South African escapers to Switzerland from work detachment Cava Manara (Source WO 208/ 4238-4275) unless there was someone with a surname in the Wi-Z series which has not yet been registered at item level (see above) and I have not been able to consult. (I am in the process of listing all the escapers to Switzerland from PG 146 and will be publishing the list shortly).

    Last edited: Oct 29, 2023
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  7. Cpl Hadaway

    Cpl Hadaway Active Member

    Regarding Evan Darlington, he died a long while ago, and the story about him working in the hills after his escape seems to have been a bit garbled in the telling of the stories that came down via his nephew, Roy Mills, who let me copy the original of the card and photos many years ago. On reflection, as you say, the photo must have been taken on the farm work detachment. Roy was certain, however, that his uncle told him that at least one of the men featured on the photograph was South African.....
  8. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    He could have been. If the photo was taken in the fields near Cava Manara, he would therefore either have stayed in hiding somewhere until the arrival of the Allies in April 1945 or he would have been recaptured and sent to Germany, Austria or another German-held territory. Unfortunately there is no official list of prisoners for PG 146.
  9. Hello Vitellino (Janet)
    Thank you for the information with regards to my fathers Escape Report. I am waiting for a reply from the National Archives but in the meantime I have followed your advice and have received the Report for Eustace Hulme Sanders, which his daughter Carol is most grateful for. As my father was with "Tots" and his brother Ken for the duration of the war and their memorable escape I feel blessed to have all this information. We will be eternally grateful for the partisans in Italy for the wonderful work and their bravery in assisting our men. My father always said they were all so very kind to them. This has been quite an emotional journey, if only my father had agreed to record some of his experiences. Thank you again.
    Glynda Morrison
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  10. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member


    The escapers were helped by the Resistance movement, of which the partisans were only a small part. I expect that your father and his companions referred to the partisans when they actually meant the Resistance. The guides who took them up to the frontier were paid for the risks they were taking by Bacciagaluppi (see below) , which is why the escapers had to hand in the slips they had compiled before crossing. In the early days cross-border smugglers took the men across.

    The partisans were armed guerillas who, in the north west of Italy, were active in the foothills of the Alps and in the hills of Piemont. They weren'ìt particularly interested in the prisoners of war - they had another agenda.

    It was the members of the Resistance movement who helped your father and the others to get away from the Lomellina area, reach Milan or Lake Maggiore, and get into Switzerland. The movement was made up of ordinary people carrying on their everyday work - teachers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, priests, bar and cafè owners, bakers, motor vehicle repair shops - all of whom worked tirelessly and clandestinely to help the escapers. They organised fake identity cards, bought train tickets, travelled the countryside on bikes establishing meeting points, fixed up safe houses... Some paid with their lives. They were for the most part organised by Giuseppe Bacciagaluppi in Lombardy and Fulvio Borghetti in Piedmont. They have my everlasting admiration.

    I cannot say the same about the partisans, but that is a result of a personal experience that I don't intend to go into here. The escapers who joined their bands for a while had plenty to say about them, not all of which was complimentary. The escape reports of those men who joined these bands for year or a year and a half and then crossed over into liberated France contain a wealth of information. I realise I must get around to collecting all this material together as it would be quite an eye-opener for so many people.

  11. Vitellino (Janet)

    Thank you for correcting me on the partisan/Resistance movements. I am sure he did mention Resistance but he only spoke about his experiences in short bursts that I not knowingly knew the vast difference in the movements. .Thank you for enlightening me and as you rightly say we are full of admiration of these wonderful folk.
    Many thanks
  12. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member


    I have been living in Italy for over thirty years. There's not a lot I don't know about the Resistance movement and the partisans.

  13. Hi Janet,
    I have just ordered two copies of your book and will be giving one to Carol (Sanders) . Should my husband and I do the journey to Mortara are their any of Prof. Guiseppe Zucca's or Guisepe Baccagaluppi family in the area we could perhaps meet up with? I feel so very grateful and humbled by these people.
  14. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member


    I am sure that Prof. Zucca and his wife Sylvia would be only too delighted to meet you, health permitting. He has had a few health problems recently. I will keep you informed.

    He has recently written another book about the people in the Lomellina who helped the prisoners and there are some details about Castello d'Agogna in it. I will translate them and send them on sometime soon, as they will interest 'Tot's' daughter.

    Bacciagaluppi's wife was English, her name was Audrey Partidge Smith. She owned a property on Lake Maggiore between Laveno and Luino. I have not heard of any family.
  15. Janet,
    Thank you so much .

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