Unknown British soldier's body found on Monte Spaduro

Discussion in 'Italy' started by vitellino, Jun 4, 2015.

  1. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    I was in Orvieto CWGC Cemetery on 3 Oct 16 and tipped my hat to the LIR chaps.
    Back at Cassino 23-27 Nov 16 with an Engr Regt.


    bexley84 likes this.
  2. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Frank - the grave markers at Orvieto for 43 men serving with the London Irish Rifles, Inniskillings and Irish Fusiliers certainly reflect the bitter fighting in the San Fatucchio/Pucciarelli areas during June 1944..

    For October 1944, and no doubt you have them, the personal narratives of John Horsfall, Colin Gunner, Pat Scott and Desmond Fay (as well as Richard Doherty's Irish Brigade history) bear vivid testimony to the travails of that period when the 78th Division were attached to 5th Army north of Castel del Rio.

    best wishes
  3. Athos56

    Athos56 New Member

    Hello to everyone. I 'm Athos from Bologna. I have news about the Monte Spaduro soldier.
    Few days ago I visited the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Bologna and noticed an excavation as if someone wanted to add a tomb. I phoned to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in Rome and Mrs Claudia Scimonelli, CWGC coordinator, confirmed me that it' s planning the burial of the British soldier found near Monte Spaduro in Bologna. A special ceremony will be hold in March 2017 and the day will be released on February.


    Wobbler, Drew5233, vitellino and 4 others like this.
  4. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Hello Athos,

    Thank you very much indeed for this information.

    I knew when the burial was to be but didn't know where. Unfortunately we don't yet know whether or not it has been possible to identify him.


    Drew5233 likes this.
  5. Neilh1549

    Neilh1549 New Member

    Hi, Ernest Winder was my Grandmother's Brother... I am going to Rome next week, on the 3rd of Jan and will be going to Monte Cassino to take a photo of his name on the War graves monument.. Sadly my Grandma is no longer with us. But I would like to give a sample of my DNA to see if it is him. All my Grandma knew was he was lost in Bologna...
    Wobbler likes this.
  6. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Dear Neith1549,

    Please send me a private message and I will give you the contact details at the Ministry of Defence. I was told less than a month ago that the DNA testing is going ahead. In the meantime I will inform my contact there that you have been in touch with me.

    I have visited the place where the soldier was found with the person who found him.

    Kind regards,

    Neilh1549 likes this.
  7. Neilh1549

    Neilh1549 New Member

    Thanks for your response. Not sure how to send a private message?
  8. Charley Fortnum

    Charley Fortnum Dreaming of Red Eagles

    Click on the name of the user you wish to send a message to: this is found beneath their photograph or the blank grey logo that holds the place for one. Doing this will bring up a mini-screen from which you can choose 'Start a Conversation'. This in turn takes you to a screen very much like the one in which you post regular contributions to threads except for the fact that instead of 'Post Reply' you click 'Start a conversation' once you've finished composing your message.
    Neilh1549 likes this.
  9. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    best wishes for your journey to Italy...the Cassino CWGC Cemetery is in a quite remarkably evocative setting. P1030927 - Copy (2) - Copy.JPG

    Faugh a Ballagh!
    Neilh1549 likes this.
  10. Neilh1549

    Neilh1549 New Member

    Thank you
  11. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Well, everybody, the hunt for the identity of the soldier is still going on. DNA tests ruled out Fus. Winder and Fus. Muldoon, and age ruled out some other possibilities from the three Irish battalions.

    The three missing men from the Lancashire Fusiliers (3/4 February 1945) are now being investigated.

    I have recently read that the desertion rate from the battalions holding Spaduro in the terrible winter conditions of '44-45 was high, averaging out at 15 per month. Perhaps 'our man' was a deserter. The only weapon he had was a hand grenade, though he was in possession of a rifle-cleaning kit.

    Were these deserters listed by their battalions? If so, who held (holds) this information now? And where did the deserters end up? Did they hand themselves over to the Germans?


    Tricky Dicky likes this.
  12. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Sorry to hear.

    As you say, the desertion rate was very high at that time amongst the units, both in 8th Army and XIII Corps (then still with 5th Army), during the winter months of 1944/45 - for example, according to Doherty ('Victory in Italy' ), during Nov/Dec 1944, "1200 men were reported Absent Without Official Leave in each of the two months"....in another study Blaxland refers to the highest level of men in detention at any one time being 5,150. It seems that 78th Div was particularly afflicted.

    I'm not sure who would have compiled a definitive listing of names - no doubt, if they existed, these were in closely held battalion/brigade/divisional files - I've only seen oblique references to desertions in the standard battalion/brigade war diaries I've looked at.

    I would strongly doubt that very many (if any) would have deserted to the Germans at this stage - and I presume that the vast majority of AWOL members had absented them well before they reached the front line!!

    No real hard facts here, I'm afraid.

    By the way, was the soldier actually re-buried in the spring ?

  13. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    The answer is that I don't know, whether he was buried or not, Richard. My CWGC contact in Rome, Claudia Scimonelli, has now been promoted and I haven't got round to contacting her successor - I've been waiting for some more news r.e. the investigations from the MOD.
  14. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I have been in contact with CWGC who tell me that the soldier has not yet been buried.

  15. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron


    Have followed this thread with interest and note that your current research has not been successful.

    The post caught my eye as my father’s regiment, 56 Recce, were also at Monte Spaduro. You say the body was found ‘just ahead’ of Pt 416 (wM028248) where the 1 RIF were on 19 October 44. Just a couple of days later, on 25 October, 56 Recce relieved 2 LIRs in the area of Pt 401 and established their RHQ at wM027248. These two map references are close and, taking into account, the errors in estimating map references, and approximation of the ‘Translator’ itself, may well be the same position.

    56 Recce were relieved by 1 RIFs on 31 October and returned to the area on 12 December, however the regiment stayed in and round the area for some months. Within the war diaries, elsewhere on this site, is an Intelligence Section map showing operations in December.


    It would seem that operations continued in the area for many months over the 44/45 winter, on 13 February 45 two 56 Recce troopers went missing following a grenade battle in the Spaduro House area wM029262, believed POW. 56 Recce left the area on 15 February. [Note: there is no suggestion that one of these is the casualty in question. On 27 Feb 45 they were listed as ‘Missing believed POW’ and on 6 June 45 as ‘Previously reported missing believed POW now reported not missing’.]

    As already stated, there were numerous units in and through the area, all three of the 78th Division brigades operated in the area, as did their divisional troops and engineers.

    Yours is an admirable task and I think that the scope of casualties is potentially extremely wide, but, what may assist you are the 56 Recce diaries which give many detailed reports of the actions there, importantly the appendices contain copies of divisional and brigade operational orders, which help to identify the units.

    Should you wish to refer to the documents then RecceMitch has them in his albums and I have included links here:

    56 Recce Oct 44
    56 Recce Nov 44
    56 Recce Dec 44
    56 Recce Jan 45
    56 Recce Feb 45

    Will continue following with interest.
  16. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thank you very much for all this information. I will read the war diaries with interest.

    The starting point for trying to find who this soldier is was the CWGC's list of missing men as shown on the Cassino Memorial. Firstly October '44 was looked at but now the whole of the winter up to the end of February '45 is up for consideration. Missing Men files for the three Irish Regiments have been consulted and also for 2 Lancashire Fusiliers, which is where we are at the moment.

    I have to add that in May of last year I visited the place where he was found with the man who found him and now have the co-ordinates of the exact spot, taken with the finder's mobile phone. These details are now with the MOD. who are sure that we will find out who he is in the end.

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  17. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    2662482 Gdsm. REGINALD HORACE FOOTE 2 Coldstream Guards

    I am still trying to find out the identity of the soldier found on Monte Spaduro, Italy, in 2015, and on checking the names on the Cassino Memorial I came across the above guardsman. I believe that the battalion was operating to the east of 78 Division on 22 January 1945, when he was recorded as missing believed killed.

    Does anyone have the War Diary for that month? If so, would you please have a look to see what was the battalion was doing on that date and where? A map reference will be fine.

    Thanks in anticipation,

  18. Owen

    Owen -- --- -.. MOD

  19. Tullybrone

    Tullybrone Senior Member


    I don’t know the local geography so don’t know if the following locations are near Monte Spaduro but Michael Howard’s Regimental History puts 2nd CG doing spells on Monte Verro and at Acqua Salata during January 1945 and suffering, and inflicting, casualties during ambush contacts with German forces.

    Steve Y
    vitellino likes this.
  20. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    Thank Steve, you've just confirmed what I thought. Monte Acqua Salata and Monte Verro lie to the east of Spaduro.

    map battlefield spaduro.jpg

    I might now try the Facebook link, Owen, though I'm not a member,


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